“Some real food for thought from this week’s View from the Desk of contributor. Having just completed a research article listing major trends in international higher education, she predicts a growth in online learning platforms, with what she refers to as an ‘economic tsunami’ that could put a stranglehold on student mobility. Study abroad has proved remarkably resilient to economic downturns, but the increased potential for online learning is an interesting development.
She singles out Salman Khan, the man behind the revolutionary Khan Academy, who had the foresight back in 2006 to grow online learning resources, making education accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. What started quite innocently as one man remotely tutoring his young cousin has turned into one of the most utilised resources on the World Wide Web. Comprising over 3,000 micro lectures via video tutorials, it boasts over 150 million total views on You Tube. I particularly like the introductory segment on the Khan Academy website that specifies by whom the academy can be accessed: student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology!
This isn’t the only online resource students can now use, she adds. Two other online business models have sprung up offering ‘free’ online courses to students but for how long, she’s not sure. The ‘free’ courses being offered by Coursera, the brainchild of two Stanford computer science professors, has incited debate at the university already (Stanford students can expect to pay upwards of US$40,000 in tuition). Distance learning has long provided a viable alternative to those not fortunate enough to travel abroad for the purpose of study, however, so it will be interesting to track how this method of delivery unfolds.
Our speaker also heralds Africa as a new international hotspot, both for inbound and outbound student business. It’s incredible to think that in the last decade six of the world's ten fastest-growing countries, economically, were African. In eight of the past ten years, Africa has grown faster than East Asia, including Japan, said a report by The Economist. Indeed, it seems this emergent continent could well follow in Asia’s footsteps. How will it fare on the international education stage?”