The Internet and many modern technologies changed the way we look at education. Although we are still tied town to the centuries-old traditional teaching methods, new learning opportunities are starting to popup for us. I would like to start a series of posts about Online Education.
Probably one on the most popular such endeavour is the Coursera project. Coursera brought together big universities like Stanford or Princeton in order to provide Open Courseware. What this means, is that materials like presentations (sometimes accompanied by videos), homework projects and assessments are free and open to be accessed by people who aren’t enrolled officially at the universities at those courses. MIT was already doing this through its MIT OCW, but Coursera moved one step further.
Coursera focuses on the power of the community, in the form of a world-wide classroom. The courses provided are synchronized with actual classes at the universities. This means that the online class lasts as long as the onsite class. The courses and assessments a published the same time as the ones in the universities. And to make things as close as the real thing as possible, forums are available to that students can discuss among each other and with their teachers.
Some courses provide certifications of graduation for the students, some do not. But everyone can take the course just for the fun of learning new things no matter where they are in the world. Want to take a Compilers course from Stanford? You can. Want to take ca World History class from Princeton? You can. Even if you live in Europe, Africa or on a remote island (as long as you have an internet connection).
Today, more than a hundred courses from more than 30 universities are available with more than 2 million students already participating.