Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sustainable online education

Anant Agarwal, the president of EdX, MIT and Harvard’s massive open online course (MOOC)provider thinks the future of education doesn’t need have to maximize revenue:
“It’s not at all clear to me that there’s a business here that will produce hundreds of millions of dollars ... but I can see enough -- as a MOOC provider -- for us that we can sustain ourselves,” Agarwal said. “Our ambitions are modest in terms of revenue, and that’s adequate.”
With something so basic, so closely resembling a public good, as education, it seems to me that there will be no shortage of philanthropists and others willing to subsidize schools of various kinds. We’re already seeing news outlets going this way (Pierre Omidyar, Jeff Bezos). The arts have long relied on patrons, benevolent backers who sponsor something out of passion rather than profit.  Seems to me that education could go the same way.