In a recent TED Talk, I learned about Coursera – an amazing startup that takes the open courseware model to unheard-of new levels. Whereas OCW allows people all over the world to pursue self-directed study of practically any imaginable topic, Coursera brings structure and interaction into the mix. Students follow the same schedule and have the same deadlines as their tuition-paying counterparts, and an elaborate forum system allows nearly real-time Q&A/discussion opportunities.
I’ve found that every fall I get a little more nostalgic for college, so that probably has a lot to do with why I’m so excited about this project. But the heart behind it – evidenced by co-founder Daphne Koller’s talk below, is simply incredible. The buy-in simply after this talk (filmed in June 2012) speaks for itself – there were 43 courses from four institutions available at that time, and now (September 2012) there are 123 courses available from 19 universities around the world. All of them free.
One of my upcoming three courses is A History of the World Since 1300, taught by Prof. Jeremy Adelman at Princeton University. Over the weekend we got our first e-mail from Prof. Adelman (the course actually starts next week), and at the time of his writing there were 70,000 students signed up. Seventy thousand. And I’m sure that’s higher now. It’s more than a global village; we’re basically a global small- to medium-sized city, all united toward this common goal of learning about world history. It’s an incredible platform, and definitely worth taking a look. The TED Talk is below, and you can find Coursera at this site.