Brave new school

For an insightful look at the subject of online learning, read Thomas L. Friedman's “Revolution Hits the Universities” in The New York Times at

We were skeptical at first when we heard of Gov. Jerry Brown’s push for increased online higher education at the University of California and the California State University systems. Could a digital professor coming at you over the Internet at home really substitute for a live and in-person instructor lecturing from inside a standard college classroom?

The answer turns out to be yes.

In fact, it’s become clear that a revolution is underway in this realm—one that could actually transform how future generations learn and become fit for employment and primed for innovation. In a recent New York Times article, Thomas L. Friedman (author of Hot, Flat, and Crowded) wrote on the topic with unrestrained enthusiasm:

“Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty—by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have,” he effused. “Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems.”

Instead of thinking of higher education as connected solely to a brick-and-mortar experience, proponents of online classes argue that advances in communication technology will allow students by the millions the opportunity to take high-quality classes from the best professors and to interact with them as well as students from around the world, all at reduced costs.

Gov. Brown is keen on all this potential learning. And now, we are, too. Also encouraging has been the unexpectedly positive responses he has received so far on the subject from leaders at the CSU and UC systems. Thank you, governor, for disregarding the first-wave of skepticism, for remaining a leader capable of seeing what’s up the road and around the corner.