Great story out of Israel this morning about an entrepreneur starting up an online university. Nothing new about a university going online – most tertiary education institutions have some sort of online presence, but this is the first one to offer a tuition-free service.Shai Reshef says his university is aimed at poorer people who can’t afford to go to university, or live in isolated areas, or just don’t have the resources to get a better education. In an interview with AP, Reshef says he is taking social networking to the next level by applying the same principles – people getting together over common ground – and then adding an educational dimension to it. This idea struck me a good one, because it shows how technology, and the Internet, can spread its wings and offer tangible educational solutions for people who are disadvantaged. My only concern about this kind of exercise is how recognised the degree will be once it is finished. Reshef has the business registered in California, US and is seeking accreditation in that country. He already has 150 students signed up, and is initially offering undergrad courses in computer science and business administration. One of the biggest problems in the third world is that lack of education leads to ignorance, and the social problems associated with it, so if the Internet can provide a cost-effective means of educating people, then I’m all for it.
Will it succeed? Who knows, I certainly hope so. This kind of entrepreneurship should be encouraged, and if Reshef’s online institution doesn’t meet the standards of the Californian education system, then I sure hope they try and steer him in the right direction.