Online Learning and Higher Ed

Clayton Christensen's views on this topic were on display yesterday in the video of the week. For a different take on this topic, read AJ Jacobs' tale of a semester of online learning in todays' NY Times.

I laid out my thoughts on this topic a few months ago. There is no question that putting all of these lectures and knowledge online is going to change things. But I am also a big fan of what happens when a teacher and a small group of students get together in a classroom and real personal interaction happens.

When I wanted to understand how blogging tools were going to change things, I took up blogging. Last week I watched a University President talk about the Coursera class he is teaching and how he got his top faculty to do the same. That's the right idea.

It's hard to predict how impactful this stuff will be on higher ed, and we do know that real in person interaction is a huge part the learning equation. But these new tools will bring important changes. So if you are in the higher education business, you had better be getting your hands dirty with this stuff. The only way to really learn something is to do it yourself.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave W Baldwin

    Thumbs up! We definately need a lot of help pulling the rope.

  2. kidmercury

    google hangout is the ultimate learning tool. go google+!forums that rank well in google are my favorite learning tool. i.e. stackoverflowthe full awesomeness of online learning will be when these institutions facilitate the job/work placement process, and that becomes the key to their profit model. then the emerging value chain will be complete and the disruption be clear.

    1. William Mougayar

      You mean if they rank well in search results?

      1. kidmercury

        yes. lots of times i run into coding issues (because i suck at it) and so i enter my issue into google….stackoverflow comes up, and usually gives me the right answer. it’s more like i’m using google as a way to search stackoverflow, because even when stack doesn’t rank first, i’ll still click on it. so long as it’s on the first page (which it almost always is) i can quickly find what i’m looking for. i love this style of learning, i think it is very friendly to those who are hacker-oriented and like to learn by doing and self-educate.

  3. William Mougayar

    It’s good to see universities extend their reach beyond their physical boundaries, but I think there’s more upcoming disruption out there in online learning that will come from bloggers & real-time experts.In my opinion, the future of online education has to be:1. Open – anyone can learn2. Virtual – delivered anywhere3. Realtime – no lag between experience & learning4. Peer-augmented – learn from each other in addition to from experts5. Experts, not teachers – the experts are the practitioners who share their knowledge 6. Bite-sized, not firehosed – learning is on-going & we want to drink it all the timeI’d like to see more of the above.

    1. pointsnfigures

      there are many subjects that need a continuous deep dive. Especially when you are first learning them. Statistics, corporate finance and topics like that. World history and softer subjects don’t need the intensive route.

      1. William Mougayar

        I think my points may apply more for continuous learning vs. first time learning, but you can learn almost anything online these days if you put yourself to it.What has changed is the “feedback loop of reality” happens faster because you get the practioners experience almost at the same time as the course itself, like in case studies. Any learning that is not directly applied for something is wasted.

        1. LE

          “I think my points may apply more for continuous learning vs. first time learning”Not your point but, and I don’t have numbers to back this up, but my strong feeling is that the overwhelming number of people in this country have no interest at all in continuous learning.Then there is another group of people who enjoy learning for the sake of curiosity or for some other tangible reason – that is because it will allow them to do something, get better at something, earn a living etc.But I don’t consider people who must keep learning (such as Doctors or Lawyers) (unless of course they really like what they do enough to spend their free time on it) to be part of the “legit” continuous learning group. Physicians have to take CME’s but from my personal experience with several of them (and the way that entire system is setup) they typical choose what they will learn by the venue at which it is held. Not by the subject matter, curiosity or importance to what they are doing.Edit: Sorry for the disjointed nature of the above.Once again, disqus comment box is messed up. Please fix. This is really aggravating.

          1. William Mougayar

            I’m not sure about the statistics either re: continuous vs. degree/formal education. In some new emerging fields and for professionals who depend on it, I would assume that continuous is the only way.This reminds me of Mark Twain’s famous quote:โ€œI have never let my schooling interfere with my education.โ€

          2. LE

            “for professionals who depend on it”Wanted to add that for the professionals that I know at least, it is totally left up to them what they should learn in continuous learning. Which doesn’t make much sense to me.

          3. William Mougayar

            It’s interesting that the continuing education market is huge, i.e. Nightingale-Conant where you can find a course for anything. Even some universities have Continuing Ed departments.

          4. Vasudev Ram

            You beat me to it ๐Ÿ™‚ I was going to quote that it reply to JLM’s above statement:>There is a huge difference between attaining a degree and getting an education.

          5. ShanaC

            They’ve been pushing through some changes.Why do you feel that people in this country have no desire to keep learning?

      2. ShanaC

        Maybe to the history – i keep reminding people that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.

    2. andyidsinga

      especially like #s 5 and 6

      1. William Mougayar

        Yup. AVC is an example, and so many other blogs.

    3. ShanaC

      How does 3 work – unless you mean not rote – but certain things can only be taught in person (eg: cooking)

  4. pointsnfigures

    I agree, you almost need to experience it before you can figure it out. I got into social media when my then 12 year old posted a profile on MySpace as a swimsuit model/Stanford student. We know that’s not reality! (kidding).This sort of thing is extremely intriguing, especially the part where the students interact. The author fo the article already gives that interaction B level grades.Combine this, how you think the future might unfold, and the fact they uncovered a University of Wisconsin slush fund in the neighborhood of $450M dollars. The governor there is outraged and froze tuition which has gone up 42% in ten years.Education has to be innovated. The problem is the immovable force of teacher’s unions combined with government bureaucracy. It will take time but the innovators will win.

    1. William Mougayar

      Well put. Too much management overhead, old habits, strict processes, etc. All this is counter to innovation & disruption.Do we have to wait 15 years for the gatekeepers to retire?

      1. pointsnfigures

        No, because there are always new gate keepers coming up with economic incentives in place to keep things the way they are. Entrepreneurs need to blow it up-knowing there is demand for their product on the other side.One fascinating thing I read a while ago was that everyone tries to innovate education around the bottom. The poor, the people that are less “intelligent”. Instead, they should be innovating around the rich because they can pay for it. They value it more highly.As the innovation builds mass around the top of the market, it can start to segment down to the middle and lower classes to build massive volume and create change.Something to think about when you plan a go to market strategy around education.

  5. Dave W Baldwin

    Off subject, just thinking on the run regarding the issues of what took place this past week via digital and social graph.You may want to do a video that is a round table discussion, let’s use Twitter, that speaks of evolving the posting of pics, video and link related to a disaster. Maybe the introduction of hashtags, say something like “CanAnyoneVerifyThis”, that could be shortened to CAVerT. Something along that line that marks a tweet as something found, but not known for 100% fact.I think the culture needs to evolve in order to help protect younger kids who do not deserve to have their life wrecked.

  6. JamesHRH

    I totally agree that Higher Ed needs to get its hands dirty with these ideas and tools.I am a lot more sceptical about the death of Higher Ed.Getting a degree from (insert “brand name Higher Ed institution or Higher Ed institution with a strong rep in the degree you have been granted” here) says things about you that are not technically oriented: commitment, execution, desire, etc.Credibility matters as much as capability, when hiring.The issue in Higher Ed has to do with the customers – they all want to get horseshit 4years degrees in ridiculous majors (I have personally witnessed someone with a degree in Personal Communications – basically public speaking – from USC, who could not speak in public).That’s $150,000 down the drain for the Pac 10 version of Toastmasters.

    1. pointsnfigures

      It’s $62.5 per year to go there now. 150K just buys you organic lunch at the cafe

  7. awaldstein

    Getting down and dirty is the only way to go.Marketing and distribution as an example in today’s world strategically is tied to the hip with the details of execution.Old school pundits are honestly not that useful. Those with chops and blisters on their fingers tied to scars of success are the ones I listen to, and what I aspire to be for my clients.You can’t talk marketing unless you can show that you’ve done it. Yesterday actually.

  8. Kathy

    I just finished an online Master’s program. While I did miss the personal interaction – I did gain a lot of discipline and computer skills that I didn’t have before. The flexibility was amazing and allowed me to travel, work part time and still have time to enjoy my family.

  9. JLM

    .What an interesting topic as always.I believe that there is way more progress out there than is currently appreciated. This is the future of education. No doubt about it.Case in point — look at UNC’s Flagler Business School MBA program. They have a completely online program to attain an MBA.First, this is a pretty damn good and respectable business school. A state school and the pride of its state in a state which has a very broad offering of undergraduate and graduate schools. It is an education factory exporting more education than it needs for its own citizens.The program is delivered by the same faculty as the resident school.They use Adobe Connect to deliver the instruction which is extremely broad in its application with live lectures, real time Q & A, video connection, rich use of other medium (video, slides, audio, conferencing), scheduled office hours with the professors and the ability to curate everything.This is an $80K program which has to be providing enormous margins to the University of North Carolina given its ability to leverage existing faculty, to re-use enormous amounts of content (the curriculum is well developed), to dramatically reduce its investment in physical plant and to cast a net over an enormous national and international student body.This program is only a year or so old and already it is an established and robust offering. Product-market fit indeed.This has every indication of being a very profitable business while shaking to the core almost every preconceived notion as to how education should be packaged, sold and delivered.There is a reason why this is happening in a BUSINESS school.JLM.

  10. JLM

    .There is a huge difference between attaining a degree and getting an education.Today one can obtain podcasts of courses from the finest universities in the US and learn subjects that would be very difficult to learn or master without such organization.Some years ago I realized I knew absolutely nothing about the Federal Reserve. Absolutely. Nothing.I tapped into podcasts of courses from MIT and Standford and learned what I could. The most important thing I learned was the bibliographies that were associated with these courses.I called the Professor at MIT and asked him which were the best three books of the 50 book bibliography that was associated with his course — he told me.I read them.I can now bore the crap out of anyone who will listen for at least an hour — even if you’re are drinking heavily which is advisable frankly — on the Federal Reserve.We can all educate ourselves remotely if we will just exercise a bit of initiative.I put AVC in that same vein in many ways. I have learned great things here and I thank each and every one of ya’ll, my teachers.BTW, today is San Jacinto Day here in Texas. The day Texas won its independence from Mexico at — wait for it — the Battle of San Jacinto.On Earth as it is in Texas!JLM.

    1. Dave DeStefano

      What are the three books?

      1. pointsnfigures

        you ought to read a Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman

    2. Tom Labus

      What was so amazing about the eventual Federal Reserve Act of 1913 is that it grew out of the late 19th century Agrarian Movement.When the economy swung in those days you got really crushed and farmers wanted some buffer from that pounding.US Financial History is a real untapped area.

    3. kidmercury

      do you mind sharing which books were recommended? was one of them creature from jekyll island? was there any mention of that book (good or bad)?if i were to design a curriculum in kookology, a course on the federal reserve would be a core requirement.

      1. LE

        “kookology”I love the way you’ve begun to soften that concept with a low calories innocuous fun sounding name. [1]”” is taken but “” is free.[1] Sounds almost like a toy or a new type of candy harmless and not radical at all.

        1. kidmercury

          i started it as a joke, and because i believe when someone engages in name-calling an effective form of defense is to aggressively embrace the insult and change its meaning in doing so. but now i think there is a genuine usefulness to the term, because the only term right now is “conspiracy theory” which is not easily modified into a verb or anything else. kook is a very malleable term and thus useful in communication. fun and useful! ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. LE

            Lesson learned is that when dealing with a concept regardless of how it is viewed (in other words positive or negative) you always need to invent the term before the media or third parties come up with one on their own.People in the domain business have been long suffering with “cybersquatter” as have “hackers” and the connotation as generally negative meaning with those words.I remember when I was in elementary school being surprised to find out that there was more than one meaning to the word “principal”.

      2. JLM

        .I am not in my library just now but will get the list when I get home.JLM.

      3. JLM

        .Yes, see list above.JLM.

    4. ShanaC

      What was the most interesting thing you learned about the federal reserve?

    5. takingpitches

      I forage for syllabi. they can be hidden gems; they are truly wasted on us while in college.

    6. Teren Botham

      Would you mind sharing the book names or the title of the podcast ? It would help take my ignorance out of my fed reserve topicThanks Sir

      1. JLM

        .Suggested reading:The Creature From Jekyll Island, GriffinSecrets of the Federal Reserve, MullinsSecrets of the Temple, GreiderA Monetary History of the US, FriedmanA History of the Fed Reserve, 1913-51, MeltzerMoney: Whence It Came From, Where It Went, GalbraithAlso, use “Questia” for the development of custom bibliographies and research. This is a heavy duty website for research.JLM.

        1. kidmercury

          this is a great list of books. creature from jekyll island, secrets of the federal reserve, and secrets of the temple are straight up kook books. jekyll island is one of my all-time favorite books, i can’t recommend it enough. especially for folks interested in real understanding of the current economic crisis.

        2. Teren Botham

          Thank you, Sir.

    7. Techman

      I’m interested in learning a bit more about the Federal Reserve, no joke.

  11. Shaun Dakin

    I’m currently taking the Gamification class at Wharton with Kevin Werbach and have been impressed. I am, however, paying for a certificate (assuming I pass) that I can use to “humblebrag” to my friends.I did try a class at the MIT media lab and dropped out in about three weeks.The main difference is that the Wharton class is immediately applicable to my work as a consultant while the MIT class was a “nice to have” class that did not have immediate application.Link here

    1. Guest

      Shaun, if you haven’t already pick up a copy of Ralph Koster’s book Theory Of Fun. Great way to get into the mindset. I see you can Kindle it now, even easier.

  12. Richard

    You just dropped a 150K on a fucking education that you could have gotten for 1.50 in library late fees. Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting

    1. LE

      About as true as this video (2″30 seconds in)…(Fucking Matt Damon..)

      1. pointsnfigures

        He is making a really cool new movie. Monuments Men. It was a great book by Robert Edsel.

    2. awaldstein

      Just rewatched that the other night.

      1. LE

        One of the good things about getting older that I’ve found is that it’s groundhog day when it comes to watching movies (you forget enough that it’s enjoyable to watch it again..)

        1. LaVonne Reimer

          So true and germane to the main topic it’s joy for a lifelong learner. Even if nothing new is offered it will seem that new!!

        2. awaldstein

          Nicely said….but honestly I’m Rain Man when it comes to movies. Remember every scene and line from many.Ex film major back when people came to the coffee house and we projected Seventh Seal and Sometimes a Great Notion on the wall and talked Bergman and Kierkegaard and Kesey.

          1. LE

            That’s actually interesting to me.The fact that you were a film major means that you are able to put things into categories and chunks more easily than someone like me.In other words the same way you don’t have to put any effort into remembering area code 212 or a particular neighborhood in NYC that you know about. Or how most people can remember “7400” easier than “4687” in a phone number.I’ starting to be able to do some nice things when watching movies with patterns as well as figuring things out but can only really remember certain remarkable scenes.

    3. Rohan

      Said the man who spent 4 years at Harvard in real life. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Richard

        That said, it is the worst way to waste your money, except all the others.

        1. Rohan

          You mean spending money on an education is the worst way to spend your money?If that’s what your saying, I couldn’t disagree with you more. (Before going on a rant, I’d like to make sure that’s what you mean and why you feel that way)

          1. Richard

            No, I’m in your camp, having a handfull of academic degrees. You missed the peseudo double negative. As in churchill’s infamous quote “democracy is the worst form of gov….. “.

          2. Rohan

            I did. Haha. Have a good week..Best wishes,Rohan— <http:“”/> – *Never failure, only learning and never older, only better..*

    4. fredwilson

      Sadly that is only true for self directed learners like the character he played

      1. ShanaC

        How do we teach self-direction young

  13. Tom Labus

    I think it helps to have someone around who can tell you that you’ve gone down the wrong road or have completely misunderstood some basic concepts.Great teachers/mentors can speed your education and offer direction too.

  14. carlo


  15. LE

    I found this statement significant:”MOOCs are creating a breed of A-list celebrity professors who have lopsided sway over the landscape of ideas. I pity the offline teachers. I fear one of the casualties of these online courses might be the biodiversity of the academic ecosystem.” (my emphasis).People, and the media, just love to lionize.So since we have already lionized politicians, musicians, actors, sporting events, major universities, business people, billionaires, coaches, the Super Bowl, The World Series, Academy Awards, Emmys, Manhattan and other expensive cities real estate [1] we now are lionizing professors who previously had only celebrity on the local stage..[1] What am I leaving out?

    1. ChuckEats

      agreed this is a very real concern but i think scale is the bigger (no pun intended) problem – if scale (think goog, amzn, apple-like) allows a very few group of teachers/companies to control the curriculum, there won’t be a necessary diversity of ideas to further education.

      1. LE

        To that point there is also no system defacto or dejure of checks and balances.For example a food critic can say a restaurant is 5 star but not only are there other people saying things and providing balance there is also the customer who ultimately will decide if they have a good experience or not and patronize and like of course the product (food). (Ditto for movie, auto, music and wine critics.)In academia there is a detachment (in many cases) between what is taught and whether it is correct or helpful. And that is either impossible to determine or would take a long time to prove out. You can’t really easily measure it in many cases.The other thing is just remembering back from when I was in college the most liked professors (enjoyable to listen to) didn’t necessarily have the best information or credentials. As an example an actor playing a professor can do a great job communicating and be very engaging but as the saying goes “nice house nobody home”.

  16. LE

    Regardless of the convenience, you still have to carve out time for the lectures. Which is one reason the dropout rate for MOOCs is notoriously high: Courseraโ€™s bioelectricity course, taught by a Duke professor, saw an astounding 97 percent of students fail to finish. My dropout rate was lower, but only a bit. I signed up for 11 courses, and finished 2Makes sense of course. One of the things about the “old” way is that the effort involved in getting admitted was a barrier to the triflers as well as a bit of a chain to make it harder for you to leave on a whim.Anyone care to guess the amount of people, with initial good intentions, who register domain names and never do anything at all with them but still pay for them yearly (and aren’t speculating or initially wanting to sell the domain)?

  17. Michael Yoon

    When interacting over electronic media,1. Conversations are recorded and thus accessible by many over time, as compared to spontaneous conversations in a lounge, cafeteria, or apartment that many will miss and certainly cannot be attended simultaneously.2. Conversations are ranked by relevance such that no question is unanswered, but the most interesting rises to the top, allowing for concentration of minds, including professors and TA guidance (efficient allocation of resources)3. Concise expression of idea is important, which can force articulation, but perhaps hinder stream of consciousness dialogue.The tool fits a “large classroom” model; the assembly line of education versus the 1-1 apprenticeship or custom shop model. A teacher and a small group of students might be nice, but I wonder what percentage of undergraduates have that experience…

  18. LE

    Consider my history study group, which met at a Brooklyn diner. Well, โ€œmetโ€ might be a generous verb. I showed up, but no one else did. A few days later, my Twitter study-buddy also blew me off.While a total YMMV this doesn’t surprise me.People talk a good game more often than they play one.Imagine that. Nobody showed up for the study group. While the “study budy” anecdote is only n=1 it doesn’t surprise me either for some reason. Not that it would matter if he did show up I will say in honesty but it’s goes along with the POV of the author.This is really similar to parents and children interaction. Parents have an entire set of “easy” things they can do to feel as if they are “good” parents. They always go for the low hanging fruit in this doing the typical and obvious things that society encourages them to do “show up at your kids games” “meet with your kids teachers”.People are like this as well with other people. They show up for “shivas” and go to funerals. They come and visit you at the hospital. But if you call them and ask them to call a friend of yours because you need the contact or favor they are way less likely to do that.

    1. JLM

      .You want some attendance and interaction, join a Civil War Roundtable in the South particularly if they have a bunch of retired Army officers and professors.I though I knew something about the War of Northern Aggression having been schooled at VMI in Stonewall Jackson’s classroom, but no, I did not know enough to make the coffee — chicory, mind you.JLM.

  19. Jayadev Gopalakrishn

    I believe online learning will be co-opted with a retail-based offline play (around neighbourhoods) with a revenue model around it so that it does not remain purely voluntary, but a core part of the ‘complete’ learning experience.I would expect Coursera Centres in the near future.

    1. kidmercury

      yes. i think there will be multiple models that can peacefully co-exist, but what you are saying here i totally believe is a huge opportunity.

    2. fredwilson

      That will have to happen for their model to monetize. The online stuff will be free. They need a premium offer.

  20. andyidsinga

    I’ve heard Tom and Ray say “reality often astonishes theory”. tinkering (including interacting with humans) and reading (including online learning) – two required sides of the learning coin, mix them in any order :)[ edit: nice mixed metaphore – maybe two required ingredients to the learning drink? ]

  21. LaVonne Reimer

    I’ve written elsewhere about my experience with various modes of online learning in higher ed (company was Cenquest with its run between 1998 and 2004). Most or our programs were accredited and included both independent online experiences and collaboration online both real-time and not. We also offered non-accredited versions of each of the courses. Big difference in retention is the credential. Without that a student has to be a highly motivated learner or required to complete the course, e.g., CLE credits. I’m currently following Mozilla Foundation’s open badge initiative.…In my day job, tinkering with other kinds of practical credentials like a business founder or owner completes modules on financial management to get better terms on loans or even to better qualify in the first place. Still really rough but all of this flows from my first more formal encounter with online learning and credentials.

  22. LE

    What an irony.Not two day after my comment about the value of breaking news:…I get a txt from my wife that there is a hostage situation going on in the development which we live in and the entrances are sealed off.Update: Turns out it was the 29 year old son who had a restraining order against him from returning home. Parents called the police and they rolled out the full battle tank (really like the ones in Boston) as well as a swat team and a full police presence from the surrounding township. He ended up surrendering and being taken into custody. At one point on twitter someone said it was a murder suicide (no such thing). The 6:00 news ran a few minutes showing the armored vehicle. In any case it was a big distraction and entertainment.Things like this used to be handled by sending a patrol car to the house (or two). “One adam twelve, see the man”. Now everything is going to go this way so the police can play with their new toys (which is fine by me I like the toys and I’m less than seriously considering donating a drone to the PD).

    1. fredwilson


      1. LE

        Refresh I’ve updated this comment a minute ago.

  23. mikenolan99

    I teach at our State University – mostly in the MBA, but this year I’m teaching a 100 Level Intro to Business and a 300 level Finance course.And, because I serve the Strategic Partnership Division, we spend a lot of time discussing the future of Education.I agree with the post and the comments.. and at the same time there is an element that we have not addressed.Universities provide a valuable social and educational experience. I interact with hundreds of students that start out as wide eyed, undeclared party animals. Over the years many turn into thoughtful, intelligent, focused people.While I’m sure some could have made the journey by spending a few dollars at the library, many would not.

    1. Cam MacRae

      Too much is made of the credential. My undergraduate career began and ended in the common room.To address Fred’s post: To realise the opportunity in for credit MOOC someone needs first to realise the opportunity in machine grading — it takes me 12 minutes on average to grade an assignment. That is merely inconvenient for a class of 50, but for 5000 it’s impossible. The existing solutions such as multiple choice or peer grading don’t stack up.

  24. LaMarEstaba

    I read the Jacobs piece. I feel that a really valuable tool for one-to-many communication in a MOOC would be Twitcam. I know that professors have limited time and it would be impossible for a professor to talk to thousands of students from all over the world. However, virtual office hours using a webcam and Twitter would be great because:1) Twitcam is free and all you need is a webcam and an Internet connection.2) A virtually unlimited number of people can watch.3) The broadcast is saved afterward at the same link address, so students can use it for reference.4) Students could interact via Twitter and the professor could answer the questions. as they came up. Tweets become part of the discussion on the Twitcam page.5) The initial broadcast would be in real time but (see 3) the students could also watch it later if the virtual office hours were at an inconvenient time.I’ve seen Twitcam used for an author who was releasing a new book and I like it a lot. And unlike office hours at a physical university that nobody goes to, I’m sure that professors would meet a lot of students during their clearly defined virtual office hour times.

  25. Bruce Warila

    My wife homeschools our twin twelve-year old boys. It’s interesting to watch the boys consume a lesson, a lecture, or something educational on YouTube. My wife takes on the role of in-house expert, driving the dialog, asking the questions, etc. When she can’t answer a question about bridge building or DNA splicing, they go back to Internet for the answer. My point is: post-consumption dialog is essential to learning, but the process can be driven by almost anyone.

    1. fredwilson


  26. ShanaC

    I keep registering for Coursera courses and never finish them – The “needs to be scheduled in” thing isn’t doing it for me. I can see why one would have to for courses that require a lot of writing – but my statistics course at Udacity I don’t see the need for the scheduling and I love that I can pick up a month later and do three lessons when I have time.I think that disjointed area of learning is where we’ll see pickup.

  27. Stephen Alfris

    I recently did an udacity course to get an idea of what it was like.For me, it does not immediately seem that it will replace an education at an institution as it still lacks the geography factor (i.e. physically being around the buildings and other students)What I think it will change is 1. Access to courses for people who cannot otherwise get it (such as those in developing countries) and 2.Development of novel teaching techniques. The course I did on udacity was particularly interesting in terms of the way that it managed to interact with the students and provide an experiences that was not just a teacher talking to a camera (or lecture hall) but much more interactive and involving with the use of forums and clever presentation tools

  28. Alice

    Sounds great, online distance learning can be just as conversational and interactive, especially with all the tools there are available out there online such as skype and google chat.

  29. Peter Fleckenstein

    I find a sentence or phrase in every post here (As well as a majority of comments from the community) that jumps out at me. It creates multiple value streams for me. In this post:”The only way to really learn something is to do it yourself.” ~ Fred WilsonThis is true not just in online education but in every facet of one’s personal & professional life. No matter who they are or what they do.I recently was engaged to consult, design, develop, and execute the sales and marketing for a locksmith company that was focusing on the housing market. Particularly, in serving the foreclosure market for realtors and banks. (BTW: We’re not even out of the woods on the massive glut of foreclosures across the country. Not even close.)I suggested to the owner that I go out with him and/or one of his locksmiths and learn how to locksmith. “Pete, I just want you to drive revenue for my business. I know this is an untapped market here that could prove to be very lucrative and grow my business.”, he said.I responded, “How can I drive revenue and help you grow your business if I don’t know what you do? If I don’t know what your multiple customer bases need and/or want?” I saw the lightbulb pop up over his head and he agreed.I spent the next couple of weeks learning locksmithing. We discovered the need for additional services & products. We leveraged online services and tools to execute and deliver value in the real world. The company grew and doubled revenue. The owner learned how to execute sales and marketing. I learned valuable insights that I can apply personally and professionally in the future.We learned by doing.We’re at the very beginning of integrating the digital with the real. It’s not the ‘Singularity’ of Kurzweil. It’s human be-ings learning by doing that will drive innovation.Exciting times for all of us! Thanks again Fred for a great post.P.S. – I don’t have to worry about ever forgetting my keys or being locked out ever again, anywhere and neither do you if you’re with me. I can pick almost any lock. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  30. invisibleman29

    Having taken 15 coursera courses with 5 ‘certificates’ (just for motivation) I can say this – you learn a lot less from the teacher and a lot more from the community than traditional classes. In the 160K student machine learning class from Stanford, I had some amazingly strong mathematicians in the class from Russia/Estonia etc — who were far deeper and more diverse than my graduate school cohorts in the same space ( 2 decades ago) at a CS top 20 school.I happen to think that MOOC’s will not only disrupt universities (and drive some to bankruptcy) but disrupt tenure systems, because star teachers will become MOOC personalities.

  31. editing services

    Taking up some online learning’s would be a great advantage for us to learned different school subject’s in just an easiest way. This will surely help us to have a very fast and effective way of learning.

  32. awaldstein

    @wmoug:disqus I’m with Charlie on this one.Expertise is not overrated, it is just often, not enough.

  33. kidmercury

    siding with charlie in this beef. teaching is a real skill unto itself and expertise does not automatically translate into great teaching.

  34. William Mougayar

    When you read from experts that have practical experience and share their knowledge via blogs, isn’t that learning?