More on Word University and School

November 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

On October 20, I wrote a post on World University and School (WUaS). Afterwards, some of the questions I raised were addressed by Scott MacLeod, founder of WUaS.

I was particularly interested in basic questions of access.  Although I was excited by the possibility of providing free online college courses and degrees, a computer with internet connection can be a significant barrier of entry. Some individuals with the means to use the necessary equipment may not have the ability to compete assignments and attend class sessions. After all, WUaS is ultimately an institution that will offer programs for full-time students. This means that students will probably spend a lot of time online, and that can become a problem for anyone dependent upon internet cafes.

Given the concern with equipment, MacLeod offered the following information:

[Take a look at] World University & School’s Hardware Resources’ wiki, Subject page – http://worlduniversity.wikia.com/wiki/Hardware_Resource_Possibilities – for very cheap, or free, hardware. And WUaS has an explicit focus on One Laptop per Child countries ( http://worlduniversity.wikia.com/wiki/One_Laptop_per_Child_-_XO_Laptop_-_$100_Laptop_-_MIT ), as part of its mission.

WUaS is planning for mobile devices as well.

In addition to running degree programs, WUaS makes itself available as a public resource for other institutions.

World University and School also makes course content and programs available to universities, based on MIT OpenCourseWare, through a developing WUaS membership program. For example, WUaS is planning to provide 4 interactive, online programs – in Sustainable Agriculture, Engineering, a Law school and a Medical school – to Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, over the next decade, for which Chatham would charge tuition, while WUaS would offer free, parallel degrees.

WUaS is still in its nascent stages, but it appears that they are thinking about a number of methods to reach students. By creating partnerships with other degree-granting institutions, they are creating a niche for themselves within “traditional” American higher education. Their mission to provide access to low cost (free) education in virtual spaces appears to departure from the norm. Initially, it even sounds like a model that could worry colleges and universities that are increasing their fees too fast for American incomes to keep pace.  However, MacLeod explained that WUaS hopes to create new options with these existing schools.  The hope is to develop the educational landscape through collaboration rather than competition.

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