If you’re looking for the Amazon of online higher ed, forget about Coursera—it’s iTunes U.
Excellent article on the state of the art of on line ceducation--assessing the benefits and challenges of on line education. Wiener sorts through the history, the hype, what's happening now and what the future of online learning may hold.--Lou
Excerpt: "....There’s nothing new about free college lectures online; thousands of courses have been available for a while now at iTunes U and on YouTube. If you’re looking for the Amazon of online higher education, forget about Coursera; it’s iTunes U, which reported in February that downloads of its courses had topped 1 billion. iTunes U has 1,200 college and university partners compared with Coursera’s eighty-five, including such schools as Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford and the University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley alone offers eighty-six courses on iTunes U, including Thomas Laqueur’s famous lectures on European history from the Renaissance to 1989. Yale offers sixty-eight at iTunes U through its “Open Yale” program, including David Blight on the Civil War and Reconstruction. Harvard offers some of its most famous professors at iTunes U as well, including Michael Sandel’s lectures on justice. Another popular course, on general chemistry offered by Ohio State professor Matthew Stoltzfus, had an enrollment of more than 100,000 the first year it was offered. The most popular courses on iTunes U enroll as many as 500,000 students.
The iTunes U courses are downloaded; YouTube offers thousands on streaming video. Neither offers anything like the Coursera system, in which a particular course starts on a specific date, with video lectures uploaded every week (although the iTunes U iPad app offers some "in-session" classes with a specific start date). Nor do they offer Coursera’s forums, where students are invited to pose questions and provide answers, or Coursera’s paper assignments and grades—but the value of those is questionable (see my experience, below).
People have been trying to make money with online courses for years. Those familiar full-page magazine ads for “The Great Courses” offer online videos, but for a hefty price: Gary Gallagher’s University of Virginia course on the Civil War, for example, costs $440 for forty-eight lectures. But that approach has never attracted big-time venture capital. And lots of colleges have extensive online course offerings for which they charge tuition. Oregon State, for example, offers 900 courses online for credit. But these are not MOOCs, because they are not massive or open. You register with the school, pay tuition, work with faculty in their courses and earn credit toward a degree...."