Felix Salmon posted a followup that I just noticed. Felix closes with this:
(…) What Khan and Thrun and others are creating is a new educational paradigm, which promises not only much greater scalability than anything we’ve had until now, but also higher-quality education. That’s the real lesson of Thrun’s Stanford students taking his class online: it means that the online model really can have its cake (reach millions of people) while eating it too (be better for students than the courses offered at elite institutions).
The trick is intimacy, in a way which takes full advantage of the lean-forward nature of computer screens. I’m in England right now, where the Open University has been around for over 40 years. The OU has historically reached students through the lean-back mediums of TV and radio, which in turn encouraged its lecturers to behave as though they were trying to reach a large audience. When you see Salman Khan or Sebastian Thrun drawing pictures on the computer screen in front of you, while listening to them talk to you through headphones you’re wearing, the experience is very different — it’s a much more immersive and intimate experience. Blow that YouTube video up to full screen, and jump down the rabbit hole. You might just learn something.