The Next Evolution in Open CourseWare

By Deane Barker on March 21, 2012

The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak: The Internet is threatening to destroy higher education.

First you had Open CourseWare, which was great, but incomplete.  The problem is that there was no test for mastery.  You could say you took a course, but there was proof of this, nor was there anything that certified that you learned something, so it was really nothing more than a “hobby option.”

Now, however, more cracks are appearing in the form of certifications from online courses given by some of the top universities in the country.  How long before these begin to substitute for credit?

The news was that the Stanford professors were letting students in their global classroom sit for the midterm, at proctored sites around the world. Those who did well on the A.I. test and a later final exam got a letter saying so, signed by the professors, a pair of well-known roboticists from Silicon Valley.

A few days later, MIT made a major announcement: The world-famous research university would be creating a new non-profit organization called MITx. It, too, would be offering free online courses, designed from the ground up to serve tens or even hundreds of thousands of students worldwide. And it, too, would administer exams to students who, if they passed, would receive a certificate saying so from MITx.