The beginning of the end cont…

Last week I wrote about the beginning of end for schools with the creation and launch of the University of the People that will accept its first class later this year. A University degree for free…or for very little money comparatively. Using free content on the web and a notion that learners can teach each other the university could be the beginning of the end. Maybe not this university, but this is a concept that I think we’ll see others try and build upon. It’s the idea that is interesting to me and that gets me thinking that the end is just a bit closer. I feel the momentum of change coming. With the recent news of India trying to create a $10 laptop that would bring the Internet to a whole new group of people. Again…..it’s the idea that this could even happen. Even if they make a laptop for $50 what have they done? Who have they given access to? And what will be created in its wake? And then there is the cell phone: Ten years ago, there was a mobile phone subscription for 5 percent of the planet. Today there are 3.95 billion mobile phone subscriptions (lets call it an even 4 billion, we’ll be at 4 billion in January). Even at 3.95 billion today, that means there is a mobile phone subscription for 59% of the population on the planet. You might want to read that stat again. Almost 60% of the worlds population has a cell phone. I wonder what percentage of the world has access to paper and pencil? That would be an interesting comparison. Worried yet? Me neither…just because you have the tools, it doesn’t mean you know how to learn with them. Good thing we dodged that bullet and bought ourselves some time! Oh…and then there is this story from David Warlick: One of the best stories I heard was told by a school librarian, Kathy Gallagher.  Her daughter is a senior in high school and is currently shopping for colleges.  Kathy said that all of the schools her daughter is considering have their own Facebook groups — except for one, a fairly small liberal arts school.  …So her daughter set up the the group for the school.  She said, “In just a couple of days, the group grew to over 300.” This was very impressive — to all of...

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The beginning of the end?

I’ve had this e-mail sitting in my box for a couple of weeks now. I had a look at this when I first got it but took some time today to really look at the University of the People. All I can keep thinking is: Is this the beginning of the end? A university uses the power of the social web for true learning experiences and then gives you credit for learning from and with others. Shai Reshef from Israel is behind the project and in a New York Times interview he lays out what he hopes will be the future of learning. “The open-source courseware is there, from universities that have put their courses online, available to the public, free,” Mr. Reshef said. “We know that online peer-to-peer teaching works. Putting it all together, we can make a free university for students all over the world, anyone who speaks English and has an Internet connection.” It’s one heck of an idea and much like the idea of creating a $100 laptop pushed computer companies to think differently and create Netbooks, I wonder if this University model will have an impact on education. It might not be this university or this time….but it’s the idea that we can do something different, that there might be a better way to learn, to teach, that leads to new findings. The XO Laptop has done well for itself, but if you look at the momentum it started, the conversations it started and where computers are today at $400 and lower it was the idea that made computers cheaper for everyone. Keep your eye on this one and we’ll see where it...

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