UofPeople challenges universities

Meet University of the People. They call  themselve’s the world’s first tuition-free online academic institution dedicated to the global advancement and democratization of higher education. I am not sure if they are the first, but there is certainly a lot to admire about them and their CEO, Shai Reshef.  For one, I admire is their focus on peer to peer learning as the vehicle for promoting learning.  Like most educators, I value p2p learning and so am glad to see a university built on this value.  Certainly, as I have been saying, p2p can address the issue of scaling help for e-learning.  To think of hiring tutors to help and engage the millions of self directed learners, in this country and globally, is unthinkable.  Moreoever, peer to peer tutoring helps both the learner and the peer tutor learn better.

Next, the timing of their classes must win them other admirers. Classes start at midnight!  That must seem like a relief for all the bleary eyed teenagers who come to life between 6 pm and 5 am.  Most of all, I admire this non-profit’s willingness to take on HE, Higher Education with a capital H and capital E, on their own turf, seeking accreditation to provide a low cost but high quality alternative to a college education.  I wish them well on this quest, though it appears to be a daunting one.

After all,we need new models of education and new ways of thinking that challenge the status quo. A model that broadens access and breaks down barriers of geography and cost seems to be a no brainer.  Right?


About Preetha Ram

I am an educator (Dean for PreHealth and Science Education at Emory), social entrepreneur (Cofounder of OpenStudy, a global study group to connect learners) and visionary (let's build a classroom for the world to study together). A chemist by training (Yale), I like to solve problems by building bridges at the edges and interstices of disciplinary boundaries.

Posted on May 10, 2011, in E-learning, open social learning. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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