Both the Atlantic and NY Times ran stories this week focusing on Coursera, an initiative involving several high-profile universities that are putting a range of classes online for anyone who wants to take them. The initiative is part of trend in higher education to make learning available to anyone who has the personal or professional interest in taking a college or university class regardless of financial or geographical challenges.
While Coursera is getting a lot of media attention and is racking up hundreds of thousands of students around the globe, the idea of free college learning is hardly new. Apple introduced the concept of watching or listening to college lectures when it first rolled out iTunes U in 2007. More recently, Apple revamped iTunes U to offer a much more immersive experience that includes assigned readings, activities and projects, and even note-taking in addition to recorded lectures.