If You Can’t Beat’em, Join’em

I once visited New Haven and took the guided tour on Yale University campus. Our tour guide said that the roof tiles had been buried in sand prior to putting them up. Why? In order to get the harrypotteresque England of yore look.

Yale campus

Yale itself is one of the elite Ivy League universities. These days it doesn’t have to mimic anyone or anything. Well, not brick & mortar schools at least. MOOCs might be another story. Yale’s ex-president is joining Coursera, one of the leading MOOC providers.

Market leading MOOCs originate from top universities: Coursera and Udacity from Stanford, edX from MIT & Harvard. This is perfectly understandable. Best universities have been able to attract the best lecturers & professors. Now these same lecturers can spread the goodness beyond campus boundaries by virtue of online technologies.

This is what MOOCs are about, what explains their success (let’s not go to dropout rates and other challenges this time): world’s best lecturers give their talks over the web so that students living elsewhere don’t have to go and listen to talks about the same subjects at their local universities, given by worse lecturers.

In the future local universities are going to concentrate more on personalized teaching and coaching, and theory lectures are left to MOOCs and other online technologies. But how many successful MOOC platforms can we fit on this planet? There are eight Ivy League universities. Surely we don’t need that many MOOC providers, right?

Flickr image CC credits: Francisco Anzola


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