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How much of Higher Education is Content? April 20, 2012

Posted by federalist in Education.

Because if there’s one thing the information age has taught us it’s that content wants to be free.

Lectures look to me as much like content as movies and music. Five years ago I wondered why we weren’t simply recording and distributing the best lectures by the best lecturers, instead of charging students to attend small performances of lower quality in person.

Since then we have seen an explosion in “open-source” courses offered by universities. The Khan Academy led a proliferation of excellent, free, online teaching for K-12 students, and is no longer alone.

Now here comes Silicon Valley with the for-profit tech ventures that aim to provide free online education and, somehow, make money on the side. Since what they’re doing is providing content presumably the initial business strategies will mimic all other profitable content providers: upselling and advertising.

And eventually they should find a way to undermine the old-fashioned higher-education cartel. I’m kind of surprised it has taken so long.



1. Deborah Weir - July 23, 2012

I agree. However, personal contact in the classroom is also important. The NY Institute of Finance hires practitioners to teach real content in bricks-and-mortar classrooms. Also online…

2. federalist - June 26, 2013

Kelly and Hess advocate technological reforms based on the following principles:

  1. Focus on outcomes rather than the manner of delivery
  2. Be open to new providers
  3. Unbundle educational services
  4. Increase portability

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