You can borrow a book from a library, which is easy. It is free to borrow; all you need is a library card. When it comes to online resources that is when things can get a bit complicated.
Imagine as a university student you can access your entire course online, without ever having to step a foot inside a building or in front of a teacher? This type of free education is known as MOOCs (massive open online courses). The capability of these courses has allowed for those without access to educational facilities or the funds, to accumulate and develop skills they never thought possible.
A little bit about MOOCs.
Richard E. Miller, from Rutgers University in New Jersey makes a point that online, knowledge is shared infinitely (This is How we Dream, 2009). You access the information, you can borrow it, copy it, do whatever you want with it, but it will always still be there for others to access. Unlike a library book, which sits on a shelf, you borrow it, and while you have it, others cannot access it.
Seems a bit selfish, don’t you think?
These MOOCs make learning available for everyone, why should education be reserved for only those who can afford it, or physically attend institutional places of learning? I find it interesting that the majority of academics within one particular faculty at my place of learning, are hesitant if not reluctant to broadcast lectures online. I’ve asked ‘why?’
Why would you want to restrict the reach of your lecture to only that of the classroom?
The response that I was given was along the lines of; ‘less people will come to the lecture’. I continue to wonder why this is palmed off as a legitimate excuse, and if the capabilities of technology allow it, why wouldn’t it be used.
…higher education is struggling with the paradigm shift… (Miller 2010, p.147)
It is of my opinion that the walls that are built around classrooms and universities themselves can be broken down, but only if those within the walls allow it.
Miller, R (2010) ‘The Coming Apocalypse’, Pedagogy Winter 2010 10(1): 143-151
Miller, R 2009, This is How we Dream Part 1, online video, Jan 15, viewed April 17 2013, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PHvoBPjhsBA>