The explosion of online education and learning has really been interesting to watch the last few years. I remember in 2011 watching an awesome TED talk by Salman Khan about his experiences in starting Khan Academy and the power of using the Internet to deliver education to everyone (now I’m seeing him in commercials during NFL football games). In April 2013, an opinion contributor to the NY Times, AJ Jacobs, wrote a great piece of his semester on online learning. There is no doubt online education (or ‘Web U’ as AJ called it) is everywhere and growing fast.
As one of my goals for 2014, I wanted to have my own experience with online learning so I enrolled in a Coursera class. What’s extremely telling about my initial experience is that I actually enrolled in this course in May 2013 but became so busy with work that I couldn’t take the course live. But of course that’s no big deal at “Web U”. 7 months later the course was still online and available to take anytime. I’ve been watching lectures in between meetings, at 5am on the weekends, at night on weekdays, basically whenever I can fit it in.
The most important question is about the quality. From my experience the content, the professor, and the quality of the videos and course plan have been absolutely A+ worthy. As for convenience, well thats an A++. Even my father-in-law takes one course at a time on various subjects like Modern History, Physics, etc. He enjoys it just as much as I do and agrees that the professors and content are top notch.
“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 of 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.”
As a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, I have always felt the biggest value of that education was being on campus and bonding with classmates and professors. Now I believe that Web U needs/should be incorporated into that type of experience but even more fitting would be how Web U can contribute to “continuing education” for professionals in all industries.
If you enjoy learning and haven’t heard of Coursera, check out the website and the course list: https://www.coursera.org/. Most of the courses are free and easy to get started. I encourage you to try it out!