Monday, June 29, 2009

Federal Government to Develop Free Online Courses

hilarious alternate "creative commons&quo...Image by telethon via Flickr

An interesting bit of news: U.S. Push for Free Online Courses:

Community colleges and high schools would receive federal funds to create free, online courses in a program that is in the final stages of being drafted by the Obama administration.

Targeted at the community college system? Okay, I buy that. If your primary interest is in job skills for the largest number of people then this makes total sense. What doesn't make sense is the proposal's old economy emphasis on face-to-face learning to the tune of $18.5 billion while supporting online learning with a paltry $500 million ($50m a year x 10 years). The goal for this $50 million is to produce 20-25 "high quality" courses a year. Wow, $2 million per course? I wonder what little goodies are buried in this proposal that have little to do with learning?

Then there was this little gem about the Federal Government "owning" the courses:

The courses would be owned by the government and would be free for anyone to take.

That can't possibly be right? If it is, this would represent a major shift in policy. Things produced with the people's money go into the public domain. Period. That has been the law since forever. Surely the people behind this proposal are smart enough to know that? Any attempt to change the Federal Government's approach to intellectual property in such a draconian fashion must be resisted. I'd rather nothing be done than for it do be done so wrong.

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