The course that I currently teach at a local college is being set up as open source. It draws on material that is available through open sources, uses an open source textbook, and will be freely available as open source content ((not sure the details of when and where and how, but that is the plan)). Which got me thinking about the idea of open source education. On the one hand, I’m in favour of education being more available to more people – after all, many people are not able to afford ever increasing tuition fees ((or, unlike me, are not willing and able to take on crushing levels of student debt to pay for school)). But on the other hand, how would profs and textbook authors get paid if everything were open source?
Then today a friend of mine, who I’d recently been telling about my quest for funding to pursue an MBA, sent me this:
We’ve seen plenty of free, online education initiatives in recent years — University of the People is just one example — but it wasn’t until recently that we came across a degree program run entirely through Facebook. Yes, that’s right, the London School of Business and Finance now offers a free MBA program that’s conducted through a Facebook application.
Launched in late October, the LSBF Global MBA offers free access to lectures and panel discussion groups online through Facebook. Three studios in the LSBF’s London campus continuously record and constantly update study material for students to stay abreast of business events, while a team of advisors is available online. Students must still have a BSc/BA or five years of professional experience in order to earn an accredited LSBF Global MBA, and they must also pay if they want accreditation. Nevertheless, hundreds of hours of free study are available to all users, including 80 hours of high-definition video content. Developed by former Google employees, the LSBF Global MBA app delivers an MBA awarded by the University of Wales. “Historically there are real barriers for people to take the time to do an MBA,” explains LSBF founder Aaron Etingen. “Our new product uses the Facebook platform. We expect to get over 500,000 users in the first year, but that is a conservative estimate.”
If an MBA program can be delivered via a Facebook app, just think how many other educational offerings could be as well. One to be inspired by! (Related: Platform lets anyone create and monetize an online school — Free Ivy League courses for high schoolers.)
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I thought this was an interesting model. Access to the *information* is free, but if you want to actually get the credential – that “M.B.A.” behind your name, for example – you have to pay. It still has the problem that those who can’t afford the cost can’t get the credential – and I’m sure we all know how credentials can open doors, and lack of credentials (regardless of what you actually know) can shut those doors – but it’s an interesting starting point.
Anyway, I clearly need to think about this whole area more, but I just thought I’d put it out there to see what *your* thoughts are on open source education. Have at it in the comments section!