Baumol’s law holds that certain sectors like education depend on intensive human labor that prevents innovation from substantially lowering costs. And education hasn’t changed much — it’s still one professor standing in front of a group of students. Coursera breaks with the old model, and I think it’s going to herald a revolution in teaching and learning.
After a number of false starts, it finally looks as if online education has real traction. Coursera recruited elite schools and top professors, offers a range of courses beyond computer science and built a platform with enough bandwidth to reach a global audience. Daphne and Andrew’s energy and devotion to try to educate the world is terrific.
After I taught my first class through Coursera, I got this beautiful postcard from Sri Lanka in the mail, thanking me. I just thought that was crazy and amazing. There’s no chance I would have reached that student just by what I was doing before.
Emanuel is a bioethicist and the author of Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family
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