Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Online Learning - Coursera, Khan Academy, and Education Portal
Online learning has been around for almost as long as the internet. In fact, the earliest forms of electronic higher education were probably adaptations of the old correspondence course model used by universities to enable students to catch up on missed classes or get general requirements out of the way without interfering with regular school schedules. Working people could also acquire higher education credits and skilled labor credentials this way. We've certainly come a long way with the rise of online universities like Phoenix.
The latest developments come with the rise of online classes and tutoring designed to close education gaps and increase access to higher education. The rise of Sal Khan's Academy is one of the most prominent and exciting of these forums, and Khan Academy is one that has been written about extensively. I am incredibly impressed with what Sal Khan has been able to accomplish, and keeping with "a teacher's view" that whatever works is good practice, I am happy to see the Khan Academy grow and offer greater access to knowledge and education. A logical development of this, about which I've written before, is the offerings from Coursera, which is offering full curricula and certificate programs for online completion of bachelor degree programs at revered institutions such as University of Michigan, Columbia, and Stanford.
Another entrant into the world on free online classes is the Education Portal Academy - an online company about which I just learned. I don't have much experience or knowledge of their classes, but at first glance, EPA appears to offer free online tutorials in all sorts of subjects and skills - in much the same vein as Khan Academy. The difference appears to be that Education Portal is also operating as a bridge to college credits, and so there is a business motive that is not present in Khan, which is funded privately by groups such as the Gates Foundation. Regardless of the model, though, Education Portal seems to have some quality online resources available, and they may be poised to become a bigger player in online education.