Digital Schooling

07/27/2010 05:03 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In this day and age, it is incomprehensible that millions of people around the world do not have access to post-secondary education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, the percentage of university-aged young people enrolled in post-secondary education doesn't even reach double figures - a blatant sign of a failed education system in desperate need of reform.

The tools to do this are accessible to all of us. It's simply a matter of bringing them together.

I founded University of the People (UoPeople) because I have seen firsthand the incredible impact technology has on education, especially in developing nations. Grounded in the belief that education is a key ingredient in the promotion of world peace, UoPeople is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing universal access to quality, online post-secondary education to qualified students.

Harnessing multiple pedagogical models, UoPeople changes the way in which education can be accessed. We utilize open source technology and open educational resources to provide access to educational material from some of the most prominent institutions. Distance learning allows those in all corners of the world to access information. And peer learning leverages the knowledge of the University's own students and applies it to a model with which they are already comfortable: social networking.

Technology also makes it possible for students in different time zones with varying schedules and access to the Internet to be part of the same class. Students may study at anytime and anyplace that suits their personal circumstances, and all materials are in online text format. Likewise, we offer programs that are uniquely global in demand--Business Administration and Computer Science.

We've seen the success of connecting as a global community, thanks to the Internet.
Now, in just over a year we have made our own global community, by enrolling over 500 students from almost 100 countries--a testament to the need of an institution like UoPeople. The numbers continue to grow and so must our investment in accessible and affordable quality higher education. The status quo is no longer acceptable. Not being able to attend university because of financial or geographic constraints should be passé. Especially when access to information and knowledge is just a mouse click away.

We still have a long road ahead, but our call for the democratization of higher education has been met with nothing less than sheer enthusiasm, dedication and support. And we have technology to thank.

Shai Reshef is the Founder & President of University of the People, the world's first tuition-free online university.