Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Academic Earth and The Obsolescence of Higher Education

Academic Earth is a Hulu-like site collecting academic lectures from some of the world's top universities.

MIT's OpenCourseWare project has been making it easy to gain high quality education for free, but a site that aggregates the best academic lectures from several universities demonstrates how we are making self-education ever more accessible through the staggering power of the Internet.

Economists claim that greater access to our best institutions will not render mediocre higher learning institutions obsolete. The economist sees higher education as not primarily about education, but primarily about "signaling." The idea is that going to a University isn't as much about gaining knowledge as it is a chance for the student to demonstrate to others that they are willing to sit still, work hard, and delay gratification.

But even if that were true, couldn't another organization spring up to certify the progress and diligence of students following a self-study regime? Why not simply have all our students study under the best professors from our most esteemed institutions?