The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is set to become the first U.S. university to make all of its courses free on the Internet (in this case, around 1,800 courses). The head of online curriculum, Anne Margulies, says the following, “We started this project because MIT believes that one of the best ways to advance education around the world is through the Internet.”
Of course, self-educators using these online courses won’t have access to university faculty and won’t receive that coveted piece of paper at completion only available behind the paywall of tens of thousands of dollars. So what does this mean exactly?
My [purely speculative] theory is that this movement toward free education (other universities are following MIT’s lead) could easily instigate more start-ups. Now anyone can access top notch resources on Cognitive Robotics or Inventions and Patents.
But until companies recognize value in this type of self-education, traditional jobs will only go to those able to move through the formal process of education. Generally speaking, human resource departments across the world rely on the filter of formal education to find talent.
And can you blame them? As if finding talent wasn’t hard enough even with the current education filter. Take away that structure, and the applicant screening process gets at least 10x more complicated and/or expensive (even if potentially more accurate).
So while some of us can afford the luxury of a higher education as part of our integration into the job market, the rest of us now at least have some solid resources for developing those ideas in the back of our minds.
Here’s the link to MIT’s OpenCourseWare site. Along with learning more in your favorite area of study (Superconducting Magnets or whatever), I’d recommend checking out anything from the Sloan School of Management. Some of my personal favorites: How to Develop “Breakthrough” Products and Services, Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organization, and Entrepreneurial Finance.