College Is Dead. Long Live College!
On Sept. 17, the Pakistani government shut down access to YouTube. The purported reason was to block the anti-Muslim film trailer that was inciting protests around the world. One little-noticed consequence of this decision was that 215 people in Pakistan suddenly lost their seats in a massive, open online physics course. The free college-level class, created by a Silicon Valley start-up called Udacity, included hundreds of short YouTube videos embedded on its website. Some 23,000 students worldwide had enrolled, including Khadijah Niazi, a pigtailed 11-year-old in Lahore. She was on question six of the final exam when she encountered a curt message saying “this site is unavailable.” (GOOGLE+ HANGOUT: Can Online Mega Courses Change Education?) Niazi was devastated. In every country, education changes so slowly that it can be hard to detect progress. None of these students had met one another in person. High-End Learning on the Cheap The hype about online learning is older than Niazi.