Next month I am taking a Computer Science course at Stanford. The course is free and part of their free online offering for 2012. I’ve also just signed up for Code Academy’s CodeYear, which on my joining had over 188,000 students, including Mayor Bloomberg, on its roll call.
Since I joined 48 hours ago, it’s up to 220,000 students.
It’s interesting to see how other friends and colleagues taking these courses have reached out, offering to act as a support service to each other.
When you don’t have a university formally organising you into classrooms, how else do you get help with topics you don’t quite get first time round? Who can you bounce ideas off?
It is clear there is a need arising for universities and education providers to expand on the delivery of their online learning materials. Beyond a student like me sitting at home listening to brilliant minds deliver lectures via YouTube, offering interaction through community is the next logical step to allow me to play with information, and augment new learnings through discussion.
Some organisations are hearing the call for community around education. Later this year MIT will launch MITx, online courses with an an interactive element.
“Students using the program will be able to communicate with their peers through student-to-student discussions, allowing them an opportunity to ask questions or simply brainstorm with others, while also being able to access online laboratories and self-assessments. In the future, students and faculty will be able to control which classes will be available on the system based on their interests, creating a personalized education setting.” – See MIT’s full press release here.
Still, interactivity around online learning is just beginning.
In the meantime, grassroots learning models are emerging to plug that hole. We are taking collegiate-level classes together, online, through spaces like Open Course Ware and Academic Earth and then meeting, both in-person and over email to help each other out. I am really interested in where this patched-together, part self-organising/part formally-structured method of learning will go.
Could a new service emerge to pair local students for free in-person study sessions? Does that sound like the equivalent of the nerdiest book club, ever? Probably. But I’m cool with it 🙂
Coming from a communications background I’m pretty excited to learn what stands technically behind the business of the internet. I’m even more excited to experiment with a new way of learning.
Why don’t you join me?
I want to be able to take course material and pull it apart, discuss it, question it and test it – what better way to do it than with a collective?