Higher Ed revolution is well underway – Marginal Revolution University opens its electronic doors.

I’ve been wanting to start commenting on the big changes in on-line education. Wanted to introduce the ideas as a part of a big series of posts I have in mind, but change is running far faster than my limited time to write. So I’ll start commenting before having chance to introduce the overarching idea….

Two economists, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, have started an on-line college. Marginal Revolution University will offer their first class on Development Economics starting October 1st.

The professors are structuring their curriculum for the online environment from scratch. Videos will be recorded uniquely for the course and will be structured in short, five-minute blocks.

Here is a short description of the course:

The first course from Marginal Revolution University is Development Economics and it will be taught by Tyler Cowen and myself. Development Economics will cover the sources of economic growth including geography, education, finance, and institutions. We will cover theories like the Solow and O-ring models and we will cover the empirical data on development and trade, foreign aid, industrial policy, and corruption. Development Economics will include not just theory but a wealth of historical and factual information on specific countries and topics, everything from watermelon scale economies and the clove monopoly to water privatization in Buenos Aires and cholera in Haiti. A special section in this round will examine India. There are no prerequisites for this course but neither is it dumbed down. We think there will be material in Development Economics that will be of interest to high school students in the United States and Bangladesh and also to PhDs in economics, even to those who specialize in this field.

Development Economics covers all the major topics of a sit-down class but because we have built it to be on online course from the ground up–no videos of us talking to a classroom–it will take less than half of the time of a sit-down class, plus no need to search for parking!

Here are some ideas from the blog post announcing the program:

Here are a few of the principles behind MR University:

2. Most of our videos are short, so you can view and listen between tasks, rather than needing to schedule time for them. The average video is five minutes, twenty-eight seconds long. When needed, more videos are used to explain complex topics.

3. No talking heads and no long, boring lectures. We have tried to reconceptualize every aspect of the educational experience to be friendly to the on-line world.

5. We offer tests and quizzes.

Other conversations on MRU:

I don’t know where MRUniversity will go. Don’t know if it will thrive or flounder.  But I do know there are a lot of exciting changes underway.  This is a cool step forward.

Things are moving fast in education, energy, and space exploration. Sort of like the old west frontier being opened up again.

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