But I thought it was worth noting for a couple of reasons. First, because I'm seeing more and more stories like this in the mainstream press - not in the technology section of the particular publication, but in the general news session (this particular article was filed under "World News"). That seems to indicate a more general acceptance of this as appealing to a wide audience - it's newsworthy for everyone, not just for tech folks.
Second, there were a few quotes that I wanted to pull out. Emphasis in each quote added by me:
I think we may have passed the tipping point where folks no longer find this unusual, but instead assume that it's just part of the landscape of higher education. And I, of course, would argue that it's part of the landscape of K-12 (or at least should be). Everything I chose to emphasize in italics above echoes what we've been talking about these last few years - now we need to figure out how to do it really, really well.
"It's almost as good as being there," said Whelan, the Massachusetts retiree, of the MIT classes he has sampled. "The only thing that's lacking is the pressure." He says he usually doesn't do the homework assignments, but adds: "Now that I'm not in school, I don't have to do that anymore."
. . . Figures from the Sloan Consortium, an online learning group, report about 3.5 million students are signed up for at least one online course—or about 20 percent of all students at degree-granting institutions.
. . . But MIT's 2001 debut of OpenCourseWare epitomized a key insight: Elite universities can separate their credential from their teaching—and give at least parts of their teaching away as a public service. They aren't diminishing their reputations at all. In fact, they are expanding their reach and reputation.
. . . "If you're going to work as a public health professional, you need the certification," Carson says. "If you're working in a community"—say, in Africa—"you don't need the certification. You just need access to the information."
. . . Fears that technology would hurt class attendance have proved unfounded, at least at MIT, where 96 percent of instructors reported no decline.
. . . "My life is in teaching," [Strang] says. "To have a chance do that with a world audience is just wonderful."