18 June 2007

Internet and Higher Ed

Larry Sanger (the Wiki & Citizendium fella; see previous post) speculates about how the internet might change the dynamics of higher education:

Imagine that education were not delivered but organized and managed in a way that were fully digitized, decentralized, self-directed, asynchronous, and at-a-distance. It is not hard to imagine a digital, decentralized degree-granting institution that “lives” primarily on the Internet, and organizes teachers and students to meet face-to-face. Such an institution need not offer courses, pay teachers, or collect tuition from students at all, but could act merely as a middleman and record transactions.

eBay, Meetup, and Craigslist all show that Internet methods of real-world organization can be employed to create vast, complex systems of social organization that would otherwise be too expensive and difficult for humans to administer. With the Internet, such systems can be relatively simple to code and to use – and they can even be largely self-organizing. Indeed, many different ways to organize education via the Internet are possible. But for simplicity’s sake, let me describe just one – first from the student’s perspective, then from the teacher’s.


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