Day 42 – Keeping Free Online Education Free

When I was growing up in the 60s, my primary source of all information trivial and important was the World Book Encyclopedia. It was probably the best investment my mother ever made. I spent hours upon hours thumbing through its many alphabetized volumes, first taking in pictures and accompanying captions, before diving into the articles of interest. Having missed much of any semblance of an elementary education, the World Book served to perk my interest in a wide variety of topics as well as imbue me with a sense of curiosity and wonder.

The importance of education cannot be over emphasized. Providing free and unlimited access to pertinent educational resources to any and all globally is one of the best methods of reducing poverty and inequality. The age and pre-eminence of brick and mortar bastions of knowledge is coming to an end. With the advent of many sophisticated, community-based online tools, the competitive advantage of spending $50,000 or more a year on a prestigious university is waning.

One positive outcome resulting from the Corona Virus plague has been the acceleration of the trend toward remote learning and remote working. There have definitely been some losses in the areas of communication and productivity, but accommodations are being made and tremendous progress is occurring in both sectors.

Thankfully, the global community has access to an abundance of information and knowledge provided at no cost. True, the availability of broadband internet and language are continuing obstacles, but they are succumbing as well.

Remember however, that “free” is never really free. It still costs money and time to produce and distribute free content, be it educational or artistic. Free education depends upon the vision, creativity, dedication and generosity of those that believe in it. Please consider giving to the organization of your choice. Forbes recently published a list of 7 of their low/no cost favorites.

  1. Khan Academy– founded by Google & the Gates Foundation
  2. edX– founded by Harvard & MIT
  3. Coursera – 2,700 courses, 250 specializations and four degrees
  4. Udemy – 30 million students, 100,000 courses in 50 languages
  5. TED-Ed – global network of more than 250,000 teachers
  6. Codeacademy – teaches programming in multiple languages
  7. Stanford Online – free online courses and professional certificates

Then there’s always Wikipedia, the greatly expanded online version of my quaint World Book.