Education, Meet the 21st Century

Image of historical university libraryLast Wednesday, Harvard and MIT announced their partnership in a venture called edX, an organization they have established to offer free open-source technology based distance learning courses. This is a real step forward for open- source education because it provides access to high-level academics to those who may not be best served by the traditional higher education system. It also represents a paradigm shift in the way institutions service the need for education. Higher education has gone too long without disruption. While many of these schools are using technology in the classroom, these technologies have just become part of the existing system. In other words, implementing technology in classrooms has, to date, only replaced the slide rule with the laptop. EdX represents an entirely new way of implementing technology that actually addresses a social need: open access to high quality education. This couldn’t have come at a better time. As more and more individuals are realizing their potentials through their entrepreneurial spirit, the role of the outdated higher education system becomes les sensible. What we need, and what edX is delivering, is the opportunity for those who are self-motivated to gain the information and skills they require. There was a time when graduating from a top university meant everything, but going to college is cost prohibitive and creates a system where education becomes a luxury. Open-source, free courses democratize education and free up information. As more institutions start moving down this path, we will see a new generation of self-starters who, instead of wasting their money and energies chasing a piece of paper, are equipped with the knowledge and the financial capacity to achieve their goals. As we begin to realize this new paradigm it can finally be said that higher education has begun to enter the 21st century.

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