With the proliferation of websites (Udacity, Coursera, iTunesU) offering full online higher education courses to the public for free, largely comprised of instructional video, many people are asking how these Technological changes will actually impact Higher Education. The form itself is not a very novel one; it is a recorded lecture, a visual version of the stale, one-way “teaching” that happens at many Universities, without the benefits of Office Hours or comments on papers and problem sets. It does not take advantage of the unique capabilities that new media has to offer us. There are some educational tech startups that are trying to change this under-utilization, the simplest model is one that has been used since educational software was big in the 90’s–interactive, live-updated quizzes. Khan Academy, while it is not aimed directly towards Higher Education since the Mathematics that it covers in its exercises is typically taught in K-12, is taking this one step further by making sure that quizzes are customized and the website tracks students’ individual paths and struggles.
Note: Here’s a very nice Boston-centric guide to free and cheap online classes from BostInno; most can be taken elsewhere but some are brick-and-mortar enterprises that hold online as well as in-person classes.