ON THE RADIO: This week, San Francisco's local radio guru, Michael Krasny, hosted Sal Khan (you know), Sebastian Thrun (Udacity) and Anant Agarwal (MITx), with a cameo spot by Ben Nelson of the newly launched Minerva Project in a broad discussion about the role of online education. (Here's the archived hour-long chat and web comments.) Lots of questions raised about whether students lose out on the "community" aspect of online school. Thrun noted that online contributions by students can be enormously rich: he described how one "fairly mediocre" lecture he gave was turned into a "world-class piece of information" when students started posting details he had left out. "We have to rethinking what community means," he said.
Khan noted that online education doesn't mean we abandon physical universities. Spending $40K or more to go to a great university and debate school with other students over coffee is a "luxury," he said. Most people go to school to learn or to get a credential that lead to a job. His worry: "high-end" schools are using technology to "liberate" students from the "drumbeat of the curriculum." Less affluent schools--by and large--are not. "It's not a resource question but a mindset issue," Khan said.