Time zones away from the quads of Cambridge, Mass., and Palo Alto, Calif., there’s a curious educational evolution happening.
Though the modern massive open online course movement (MOOCs) originated in North America, two-thirds of their users live abroad–in places like Rwanda, China, and Brazil.
Foreign users are adapting the courses produced at Harvard, MIT, and Stanford to fit their local communities and cultures. And in the process, they’re creating an entirely new education model. Instead of toiling at MOOCs alone with the dim light of a laptop, communities around the world are combining screen time with face time. In these small-group, informal, blended-learning environments, students work with the support of peers and mentors and compete online on a level playing field with the new elite of the world. “It gave me a taste of what is first world education,” said Alejandra B., a 21-year-old studying business at a Catholic university in La Paz, Bolivia, and a MOOC participant in such a setting, told me.