Coursera, edX, and MOOCs Are Changing the Online Education Business
If you were asked to name the most important innovation in transportation over the last 200 years, you might say the combustion engine, air travel, Henry Ford’s Model-T production line, or even the bicycle. The list goes on. Now answer this one: what’s been the single biggest innovation in education? Don’t worry if you come up blank. You’re supposed to. Agarwal believes that education is about to change dramatically. Online education isn’t new—in the United States more than 700,000 students now study in full-time “distance learning” programs. These ideas affect markets so large that their value is difficult to quantify. Because education is economically important yet appears inefficient and static with respect to technology, it’s often cited (along with health care) as the next industry ripe for a major “disruption.” In Christensen’s view, disruptive technologies find success initially in markets “where the alternative is nothing.” Digital instruction faces limits.
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