In “Dancing with the Stars” I talked about what a classroom with 10,000 students might be like. The transformation of higher education has begun, and the pace of that change is accelerating.
Dick Lipton’s blog Godel’s Lost Letter has since attracted tens of thousands more. It is a virtual seminar that, for example, coordinated a global effort to referee an important paper in the theory of algorithms. At times, the number of viewers topped 100,000. Now Stanford’s Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun are offering an online course in artificial intelligence that will enroll 58,000 students.
On September 12, I will join with 60 or so colleagues to offer a MOOC for tens of thousands of students. Georgia Tech students will get credit, and others will get badges that could be convertible to credit if they ever enroll at Tech. Other institutions will announce their approaches to certifying achievement in the course. A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course, a style of college-level teaching that was pioneered by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. The first MOOC, offered in 2008 by George and Stephen was devoted to the subject of their research, a style of learning called connected connectivism. It attracted 10,000 students.
The 2011-12 MOOC is all about transforming university learning and the organizers hope it will attract a much wider global audience. They are calling it the Mother of all MOOCS.
The course will also be a C21U experiment on self-certification, a concept I discussed in my book. Where will this all lead? It’s far too soon to predict an outcome, but within the last year, the number of experiments in higher education has exploded. If you believe like me that innovative change is just what traditional colleges and universities need, that’s a good thing. The way to innovate is to try out lots of ideas.