Reinventing the university for emerging economies


Posted by Rohan Samarajiva on January 11, 2012  /  0 Comments

If telephony was supplied as it was in the bad old government-monopoly days, we wouldn’t have the current levels of access. It is because the service was reinvented that things changed. In the same way it is necessary to reinvent the university. The writer thinks mobile phones, especially smartphones will have something to contribute to the solution.

From South Asia through much of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, it’d be impossible to build schools or train teachers fast enough to keep up with the “youth bulge” that has given humanity more than a billion teenagers either to nurture or tame — the difference depending largely on access to education beyond elementary grades.

But in these same places, explosive expansion in mobile phone subscriptions and fast-dropping costs for smart phones provide the architecture for a partial end run around such bottlenecks. That’s why the decision by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to open more courses to online users is probably just a taste of what’s to come. [Stanford University has had remarkable outcomes, as well.].

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