by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 23rd 2007 10:15am
It started with universities giving away all their courseware online for free, but recently some universities have started posting videos of all lectures for free on YouTube as well. This has some folks wondering what that means about the value of a university education. Andy Kessler does a nice job breaking down the details of what he calls "YouTube U.", noting that it plays directly into the economics of free content. The content itself, once recorded, is the infinite good -- but the scarce good remains the actual diploma of having successfully made it through the courses and the tests to prove that you had an acceptable level of understanding. While he then jokingly (right, Andy?) suggests that a more conspiratorial answer is that it's a professor's way of being lazy and focusing on the parts of being a professor that bring in money (research, consulting) he may not be that far off. Professors will embrace such things because if they really are good professors it does help build their own brand, which can help them in many ways, from getting grant money to getting better grad student researchers to many other things. And the fact that it can do all that while also helping many people who aren't attending the school learn about whatever topic is being taught seems like a pretty good deal.
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