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Shared knowledge is the future

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Shared knowledge is the future

Shared, open knowledge is increasingly being made available worldwide through e-learning. This is something that could make a great impact on the accessibility of tertiary education in South Africa if implemented by our schools and universities. The increased use of techniques like “lecture capture” and the possibility of degrees that don’t require students to attend a single class have the potential to make tertiary education available to more people than ever before.


“Lecture capture” simply means capturing video footage of live lectures and broadcasting them free over the internet. Anybody can attend these lectures virtually over the internet via a number of universities’ websites. Harvard University was one of the pioneers of this type of free access to world class learning and has been offering free broadcasts of lectures for five years which, in the online world, is a very long time.


Harvard is now one of the “edX” universities, which include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley. EdX, a non-profit enterprise founded by MIT and Harvard, offers a number of free online courses to students across the globe. At the same time, it uses its online platform to research how people learn and how technology is transforming – and can transform – campuses around the world. All you need to take an edX course is a computer and an internet connection. MIT’s first edX course, Circuits and Electronics, had an enrolment of over 150,000 people from 160 countries.


Students who complete this course and others like it receive “certificates of mastery” but don’t qualify for full degrees or diplomas. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get a full degree online. The American University of Wisconsin now offers a recognised degree that doesn’t require any class time unless practical components must be completed for the degree to be awarded. The University of Wisconsin is the first university to organise “massive open online classes”, or MOOCs, into a bachelor’s degree.


Introducing initiatives like this into the South African learning landscape could open up higher learning to a far wider audience. Open knowledge is the space to watch in the digital realm right now.

Last modified on Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:26
Kirsty Chadwick

As an experienced educator, public speaker and leader, Kirsty Chadwick has spent almost two decades involved in the field of education. Founder of The Training Room Online, which designs and develops innovative tailor-made e-learning material for the corporate, industrial and private sectors, Kirsty has trained, developed and inspired people across three continents.


Kirsty is a leader in the field of education. She has coached, mentored, trained and led teams of educators, as well as spoken internationally on the subject of incorporating technology into training in both the corporate world and in industry. Kirsty’s experience in the corporate environment gives her unique insight into the challenges of training within a business context, as well as an understanding of the vital role of employee development within commerce.


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