Internet Makes The World Smarter

If there was ever an “industry” that was struggling to adopt and keep up with very significant change its education. From kindergarten to high school to college, technology-powered innovation is tempting institutions to change and adopt.

Coursera will add fuel to the fire.

Coursera’s vision:

“We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.”

Coursera offers more than 300 collegiate level courses in a huge variety of topics: biology and life sciences, computer science, economics, education, humanities, mathematics, medicine, music, statistics and more. Best of all tuition is free. More than 3.1 million people are currently enrolled.

Why do I like Coursera? When I finished my business degree I spent two years working in Europe. While there I was able to work on my French language skills. Upon my return to the U.S., I attempted to take additional French classes at a local university. But it was incredibly difficult and impractical to enroll due to poor adult education, silly rules about not being allowed to take undergrad classes while not pursuing a degree, impractical class times, byzantine application processes and high costs. Coursera would have been the perfect solution.

The beauty of the Internet is its ability to educate and foster communication. As network quality and speed have increased, and the tools to build application infrastructure like Coursera have exploded, society’s ability to continually and cost effectively educate the masses completely changes – a big deal indeed.

Final point, as I’ve noted in previous posts, think about the value chain of education delivery. More opportunity is transferred to those who know how “all things Internet” work (networks, servers, software build and design, etc.). Over time I’d offer that this will pressure traditional brick and mortar colleges. Keep your tech skills sharp!

I welcome your comments.

Mike Brannan