Facebook was born to capture the social or off hours parts of school. Blogs are increasingly becoming a platform that functions as a springboard for product launches, paid membership communities and a tour on the speaking circuit -- preferably with one's own flavor of a program.
How much critical thinking is being developed racing to the popularity charts?
Learning is one of the ways in which the Internet is allowing more people to participate in the global economy, in addition to the conversation. And it's giving creators and teachers the ability to build a platform to share what they know and attract students. A much improved -- and needed -- proposition.
Who says you have to give up being social to learn online? Why should you be able to learn only by paying top dollars?
You're already familiar with TED. They make the talks people pay top dollar to attend available online for free -- through a sponsorship model. There are more free resources out there for those who wish to learn and teach. Here are 3.
Learn Java Script from Harvard professors. Want an introduction to Dante? Listen to Giuseppe Mazzotta from Yale. I don't know about you, I always wanted to learn the geometry of linear equations at MIT. You get the idea. Academic Earth provides these video lectures for free.
You can search by subject matter, university, or instructors. The site's editors have even collected a series of playlists for you. Courses are offered under a Creative Commons license through open course programs at the universities. Associated materials include lecture transcripts, handouts, reading assignments, tests and problem sets; some classes are also available as podcasts.
The organization's mission statement says: Academic Earth is an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education. More about the organization and community here.
Or you could start a Supercool School. Another San Francisco company that allows you to build a learning and teaching platform for free. And you can charge for classes/programs.
Supercool founder Steli Efti told the New York Times that he’s trying to create is the Ning of Education, allowing anyone to build their own educational site. His business model is to take a 20 percent cut of online course sales, as well as selling subscriptions for premium features. He estimates the opportunity at $400 per month per school.
They have an interesting and eclectic advisory board. If you watch the demo, you will see that the platform allows for interactions and community building, just like Ning.
Want to learn from your peers? Take (un)classes - peer to peer learning. From the site:
Ever wish you had the choice to get up off the couch and spend the afternoon learning to rock climb, cook, or maybe juggle? Well, we have and that's why we came up with (un)classes. (un)classes are premised on the belief that everyone has *something* to teach and learning doesn't always have to be a formal experience requiring big up-front commitments.
Follow the founding team on Twitter. Jonathan Strauss describes what the idea is all about at his blog. I particularly like the fact that he digs the Black Swan and talks about the weaponization of hobbies. Wasn't blogging a hobby for many of you before it became a business?
What can you give back to the community?
[hat tip to Springwise for these ideas]