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Free Online Education is Now Illegal in Minnesota

October 19, 2012


Stand by for the revolution in education.. a conflict where some are for it.. and some are against it.  Free online education is illegal in Minnesota.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The teachers lobby in Minnesota felt threatened.  They woke up the state bureaucracy and had them give notice to Coursera, a startup that provides free online education.  Education is changing, and this revolution may not be televised, but it will be live streamed.

Education is not like medicine in that education isn’t something that someone does to you the way a doctor treats an infection.  You can not sit and learn, though some students sleep through class.  You are not injected with knowledge.  Learning is a change in you and what you know.  It is a change you institute in yourself by your own effort.  The extraordinary performance of home schooling shows that the skills to be a teacher are widespread.  Becoming a teacher does not require a four year degree.   Ideally, we learn how to learn and we never stop.  That paradigm threatens established teaching institutions and established unions.  That is why there was a political backlash against free online education in Minnesota.  This is more than a local issue.  Please recall that the Taliban deny education to women.

There are many online learning sites, Coursera, Udacity, Edx, Khan Academy, and TED for contemporary topics.

I’ve read that the future of bricks and mortar universities isn’t good.  It should look break given their skyrocketing tuition and the plummeting financial rewards for some college degrees.  Governor Rick Perry of Texas bucked this trend and asked his state board of education to come up with college degrees that cost $10,000 or less.  I’m sure this added to the concerns at the expensive institutions, and expensive public schools.

I like the trend, but it won’t end there with low cost degrees in conventional colleges.  I’m encouraged by a world where you learn what you want and never stop.  You might go see a teacher the way you go see a car mechanic, a golf pro or a financial adviser.  You seek professional help when you run into an unusual problem that you can’t work through on your own.  We have seen this age before in other fields.

Sheet music was uncommon before printing.  The usual way to learn a song was to join a choir and have the choirmaster teach you the song.  The invention of printed music meant you could learn songs on your own.  Now we have recorded music so you can hear the performance as well as see it.  Today we have online vocal instructors who teach students around the world from their basement.

University education will follow the same trend.  The trend will not stop with undergraduate and general education courses at the college level.  Many universities now offer graduate level courses in a remote learning format.  That will be the norm, not the exception by the year 2020.  How are you going to keep students locked in public school buildings when those same students have the world at their fingertips as they sit at their dining room table?  It won’t be long before we have home school college education.  Foreign students will no longer travel to the US and pay high out of state fees to attend US schools.  Muslim women could get an education almost anywhere, and Sharia law will have to outlaw the internet.

hotlink to TED talk


Take another step with me.  This expansion in education is not limited to elementary school reading, writing and arithmetic.  We’ve already seen it applied to voice and foreign languages.  Why not religion, arts and crafts?  Could you learn to be a great chef, sculptor or aircraft mechanic online?  If you have doubts about online education, try online learning right now.  Here is the founder of Coursera in a TED lecture about online education.

I predict that U. S. medical schools will be the last to adopt new methods of instruction.  Maybe I need a category for “Revolution”.


Rob the Inspired

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