http://www.technologyreview.com/sites/default/files/images/next.step_.moocsx299.jpgBy Jessica Leber. Putting free U.S. college courses online is only the first step to filling higher education needs around the world. As online education platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity burst onto the scene over the past year, backers have talked up their potential to democratize higher education in the countries that have had the least access (see “The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years”). These ambitions are now moving closer to reality, as more people begin to experiment with their setup, although significant challenges remain.
Students in countries like India and Brazil have been signing up in droves for these massive open online courses, or MOOCs, offered for free from top-tier universities, such as Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. Yet in the world’s poorest regions, where even reliable high-speed Internet access capable of streaming course lecture videos is hard to come by, delivering a useful education to the masses is clearly not a straightforward operation, and experiments in doing so in an organized way are only just beginning (see “Online Courses Put Pressure on Universities in Poorer Nations”). Read more...