Stanford was willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building a new physical campus in New York City — but it isn’t willing, it seems, to help Thrun build a free virtual campus which could reach the whole world. That’s a dereliction of its educational duty. But where Stanford has failed, surely some other elite university will step in. Thrun is taking a bold step here. Let’s hope he soon gets the support, if not of Stanford, then of some other college. Like Harvard, or Yale, or Oxford, or Cambridge. They’re exclusive places now. But they don’t have to be, in the future.
Read the whole thing. Pointer from Alex Tabarrok. Salmon is referring to Sebastian Thrun, who co-created the Stanford online artificial intelligence course.
My reaction to Thrun working independently is to celebrate rather than lament. Do I want the future of education to be tied to Stanford, Harvard, etc.? Absolutely not. I want to see educational disintermediation, in which students and teachers connect directly. With disintermediation, we will need new ways to identify quality teachers and successful students. Just as on the Internet search engines needed to figure out how to identify quality web sites and online market sites needed to figure out how to identify quality sellers. Let’s develop new reputation systems for new teaching methods, rather than try to bolt the old Ivy League brands on to educational innovation.