I have worked for CAVA for eight years -- since my oldest son was nine months old. For several years I recommended CAVA to homeschooling friends and colleagues with young children. Then things began to change.
There's no reason for athletes or others with unpredictable schedules to feel as if completing a college degree is an unrealistic achievement. Online programs are a great fit for those of us who can't accommodate a traditional college environment.
From the vantage point of someone who never budged from my cautious optimism over what MOOCs might eventually become, I'd like to point out that even if massive open courses have not made free learning for all available yesterday, they have raised the bar in online education.
Learning is now like ordering food in a restaurant, one class at a time. By offering free online classes to anyone in the world, the virtual universities have managed to bring together the world-wide student community, under a single roof.
Where is the technology fix or app for skyrocketing textbooks? Where are the barbarians at the gate? Those Silicon Valley warriors that took down Motown, turned my neighborhood Borders into a laundromat, eliminated Kodak AND my camera?
How do you answer the questions of 34,000 students? Well you don't, but we've learned that the community that has formed around our MOOC creates a supportive and interactive learning experience for those students who want to raise their hand and get involved.
While apprenticeships are one alternative to traditional schooling, online courses are potentially transformative for the higher education industry. In fact, the arrival of free online courses has already forced universities to re-evaluate their own models.
These are exciting times for anyone in higher education. Many forms of online learning are leveraging digital technology into the core of the educational experience. They are fundamentally changing the laws of access, costs, and the student learning experience across the globe.
It is actually quite valuable to at least think about each course as a separate entity, rather than lump them (and every other massive online class) together under the label "MOOC," since (as the researchers themselves highlight), no two MOOCs are quite the same.
To survive in today's workplace, students need a unique skill set that oftentimes can't be acquired in a traditional, brick and mortar classroom. For many, online education is becoming the most affordable and convenient alternative.