Monday, June 04, 2012

Global online education is taking off

Education cost and consumer prices
As shown here, the cost of education (in the US) is rising faster than general inflation. At the same time, voters are cutting spending on public education. As a result, online schools are springing up all over. There are many variations on the theme, and it will be fascinating to see which models survive. Here are some examples:
  • Calstate online: Charge tuition and grant degrees. Self-sustaining, non-profit.
  • edX: Free for now, but will they one day offer certificates for a fee? Large cash endowment, but what happens when that runs out?
  • The Khan Academy: Free forever? Contract with school districts? Foundation support.
  • Udacity and Coursera: Venture backed university spin offs are free for now, but investors will want income in the future.
  • NPTEL, the National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning: Produced by the Indian Institutes of Technology. Government funded and free.
  • Open University: Grants degrees and charges tuition (discount for UK students).
  • Open University Learning Space: Free online courses from 1-20 hours long from the Open University and the BBC.
Venture capital comes to education
There are also students with different goals:
  • Young people seeking a degree or certification at the beginning of their careers
  • Working people seeking a degree or certificate in order to improve their positions
  • Working people seeking training in a specific job skill
  • Curious people who want to learn about a subject as an end in itself
  • Curious people who want to acquire a skill as an end in itself
To make matters even more interesting, while US entries in the online education have been getting a lot of attention, this is a global phenomenon. We see offerings from the US, UK, India, Namibia and many other nations. Needless to say, there are also online students in every nation.

Update 4/10/2013

UK Universities Minister David Willetts urged university leaders to invest in the "historic opportunity" presented by global online education.  The BBC article covering his talk also summarizes current online education efforts in the UK and places them in a global context.

Update 4/25/2013

Coursera has launched its first international course, Science, Technology, and Society in China I: Basic Concepts, from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, 17,000 students registered for the three-week course -- around 60 percent of them from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and other rich nations, with the rest from countries like Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and middle-income countries in Asia.  The article continues with an interesting discussion of the opportunity and barriers presented by the Chinese market for online education.  Will it be open or dominated by Chinese companies and universities?  Will Chinese universities and faculty be allowed to use Coursera and other platforms or will China erect a "walled campus?"  This course is in English -- will Coursera offer classes in Mandarin?

Other posts on MOOC globalization.

Update 7/8/2013

The Chronicle of Higher Education profiles five international MOOC providers:

Update 10/3/2013

Futurelearn, a coalition of universities in the United Kingdom, announced their first round of courses recently and now Udacity, with support from Google, has announced an effort to translate their existing courses. You can see an example here, with closed captions available in a variety of languages. Will English with sub-titles be sufficient or will students prefer native language presentation?

Update 10/12/1013

list of MOOC providers They say it is up to date as of September 27 th.

Update 10/16/2013

Two European MOOC providers, iversity and Futurelearn, are launching this month. The first course offered by Futurelearn, a coalition of UK universities, starts October 21. It is an ecology course called "Fairness and nature: When worlds collide" and it will only last two weeks. I will enroll to get a look at the Futurelearn delivery platform.
Iversity began with a scholarship from the German Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and is now venture funded. They will be offering MOOCs by university professors from around the world and are launching with six courses this month. Their course promotion videos are innovative, for example, combining video and graphics and using 3D video, as shown below. I want to keep an eye on their platform as well.

Update 11/4/2013

Global competition is heating up. Coursera is establishing "learning hubs" around the world and has found a Chinese parnter, NetEase.

Coursera learning hubs

Update 1/17/2014

Two thirds of all MOOC users live abroad in countries like Rwanda, Kenya, China, and Brazil according to this post by David Blake.

His post includes links to these MOOC providers:

ALISON (Ireland), Ewant (China), FutureLearn (United Kingdom), iVersity (Germany), Open2Study (Australia), Rwaq (Saudi Arabia), Schoo (Japan), UniMOOC (Spain), Veduca (Brazil), and XuetangX (China).

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