© eLearn magazine 2012

Kolowich, S. (2012) Massive courses, sans Stanford, Inside Higher Education, January 24

This is an excellent article about two of the Stanford professors, and another from the University of Virginia, who have created a start-up company with private investment to create MOOCs (massive open online courses). There will be no accreditation from a university, but the professors will issue their own certificates for successful completion. They are looking at a range of possible business models, including charging $1 an enrollment, or taking a commission for every graduate who gets a job placement through their organization – or payment by results.

This is a very American solution to open learning, combining open access with capitalism. It will be interesting to see if it works.

What this does remind me of is the very early days of medieval universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Bologna, where students paid their professors directly, and travelled around to find the best professors – and where professors travelled to where the work was. I actually lived in a house half way between Oxford and Cambridge in Stony Stratford, on a road where 800 years before the professors had walked between the two universities. Now we have distance education where no-one needs to walk. Ah, progress.


  1. Lalita Rajasingham writes:

    Thanks, Tony. The Stanford model, as you say reminds us of the Oxbridge Bologna etc model of 800 (plus) years ago. John Tiffin and I in our Global Virtual University drew attention to the model where good profs get rich because they are good teachers; the poor ones-no student will pay anything for just die away, in the Darwinian sense, where the survival of the fittest thrives. Gosh, we have come full circle, where nothing is really new. There is one major difference though in that education is now big business, corporatized and commercialised. The mendicant monks did it for the love of spreading learning and ‘corrupting youth’ a la Socrates! Regards, and keep your excellent work going. Lalita


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