Cloud University: Open Source Education

I've been spending lots of time surfing the web recently trying to learn new things and to apply that knowledge to the various projects I have going at any given time. Lately I've been spending quite a bit of time scanning through various Linux forums and at Instructables.com. I was thinking about how the Internet has changed into something really amazing. It has become a medium of great synergy, where people can work together to accomplish things much greater than they could alone, or even in organizations of various sizes that have existed throughout human history. I am truly impressed by the synergy that has developed on the web, and wanted to develop some way of directing those energies towards a positive end. I was trying to think of something useful when I realized I shouldn't be working alone to develop this, it should be brainstormed by the Internet community. I realized that it would be hard to agree upon a direction to take, since everyone has their own concepts of what issues are most pressing, and since there is such strong disagreement about what can be done to solve those problems. I thought there would need to be a lot of dialogue, a sharing of information, and much deliberation before a plan could be reached. Then I realized that that should be the plan: education. If people could come together at a website laid out similarly to a social networking site and share information the oblique benefits would be enormous. I realize there are already sites like this. Wikipedia is fantastic. But there is only so much knowledge you can gain from reading information on a page. I was thinking this online learning institution could use tools employed by higher education already. It could have rooms where people could meet and have live chats, video, and shared presentations. Instructors could develop class pages in a simple GUI layout similar to Myspace with course information, forums, and feedback. We could even have tiered learning where an instructor requires verification that a student has sufficent skill in prerequisite classes before moving on. This could be a place where experts in various fields could come together to discuss their fields and continue to progress as well as place where curious minds could find help. Students in traditional universities could use it as a study guide to help in their course work. Of course, this would require that people with knowledge in their field donate their energies, but I don't think this is asking too much. If many people just donate a little bit of time it would have a huge impact. By working together the cost for any one person would be small, while the benefit to every single person would be enormous. I intend to pursue this vision, but I cannot do it alone. The obvious first step will be to start developing a website with a forum. I'll start working on this. If anyone has any suggestions or wants to help, please let me know.

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Open Access education is really cool and major universities are getting on-board.
projects to look into:
MIT - http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm
Unversity of Michigan - https://open.umich.edu/
Brewster Kale is a big supporter of open resources:
http://www.archive.org/index.php

And what I really like about your idea is the place for people to talk & interact around the resources. I found out about this social networking site recently:
http://www.knetwit.com/

Awesome use of the Interwebs...kinda makes you want to call Instructables the DIY University?...
Sam the Wizer (author)  greenapplefancy8 years ago
I've checked out the sites you listed. It was hard for me to drag myself away from the MIT site, lots of good information there. Knetwit is an interesting idea. It looks like there a lot of sites that are dancing around this idea. Thanks again for the info.
Sam the Wizer (author)  greenapplefancy8 years ago
Thanks for the resources! Instructables was a big inspiration for me. I haven't had much time to work on this project due to my job. I'm getting a lot of positive feedback and have found a few more people willing to donate time, so hopefully this will take off soon.
NachoMahma8 years ago
. Sounds like an excellent idea to me. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that something at least vaguely similar to CloudU isn't already available. It looks like most of the parts are out there, I just haven't seen them put together. . For organizing/managing a volunteer/open-source team, I'd look at the Wikipedia, Linux, & al, models. Even on a small scale, CloudU will probably require a small army of ppl.
Sam the Wizer (author)  NachoMahma8 years ago
Thanks for you input. It would take a lot of people, but the success of Linux is a clear example that people are willing to put forth an effort towards a project where the benefit is shared. There are quite a few sites that have similar projects, but they all seem to just have information without interaction. Instead of trying to compete with sites like Wikipedia/versity I would want to encourage "CloudU" students to use those sources. Since the instructors would be volunteers they will act more as guides and will not require the authority of a professor (authority should be questioned anyway, right?). The format will likely be that of a social networking site, with course modules in which students can enroll and a "report card" where students can display the courses they've completed.