Education for all

The online education site Coursera continues growing with amazing vigor, having recently added 90 new classes from 29 newly-joined universities. There are now courses in Spanish, French, Italian, and Chinese. All the courses are free.

The list of 62 universities giving courses is impressive: Rutgers, Rice, Vanderbilt, Penn State – and international: Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The range of courses has expanded to include arts, history, medicine, literature, law, and the humanities, as well as an many in mathematics, science, and engineering. History of Rock, or songwriting perhaps? Latin American culture? Or perhaps just learn how things work?

Coursera calls itself “social entrepreneurship,” though the more common term used today is MOOC (massively open online course). Tens of thousands of students take a course together, ask questions, collaborate on work, and receive certificates of completion. And some of the classes have been approved for college credit by ACE, a significant step forward. (This does require taking a monitored exam, through ProctorU, which costs $10-15 per hour for the exam).

Education is undergoing a seismic shift; the tectonic plates that we thought eternally stable (card catalogs, the four-year university education) are moving under our very feet. If you enjoy learning, this is the golden age of opportunity.


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