Recorded lectures are a great starting point for online education

I finished listening to two series of lectures from Great Courses. This is the first time I’ve used their material. They have great stuff.

I’ve long thought that the concept of taking their recorded, college-level lectures and adding a reading list plus a test could produce a high-quality, college-level class. I’m more convinced now than before.

The courses were presented by subject experts. Even with my above average level of knowledge on these two topics, I learned a lot and was stretched intellectually.

The courses were Life and Writings of C.S. Lewis from Prof. Louis Markos, and History of Hitler’s Empire from Prof. Thomas Childers.

Lewis is one of my favorite authors.  History is my favorite leisure reading, although my interest in WWII takes backseat to the American Civil War.

Contrary to the negative reviews of the Childers course at their site, I found his course to be entertaining as well as informative.  

The good professor is knowledgeable and passionate about this topic. The details of how the Nazis gained power is frightening. The haphazard and opportunistic development of the ‘final solution’ is very scary.

Why do I comment on this?

We are seeing turmoil in higher education. Instead of looking only at the downside, I’m thinking of this as an open frontier.  There are amazing new opportunities to provide education at all levels.

If you were to add a reading list and test, you would have a history course as rigorous and challenging as anything I took at the undergraduate level.

In terms of length, each of these courses run approximately 6 hours, so in terms of traditional semester time-in-seat measurement, I suppose that would be about 0.5 semester hours. For such a course, add a short reading list plus a quiz and you could have ½ credit.  Put six of those courses together and you could have a full 3 credit undergrad course.

I’ve just started The American Civil War, by Prof. Gary Gallagher. I’m really looking forward to that.

There are obstacles to clear, such as dealing with the cheating issue, but there is tremendous opportunity for anyone who wants to develop an on-line college curriculum.

If you keep your eyes open, you can get the above courses for really, really low prices. Check them out.

The frontier in education is wide open.

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