As connection speeds increase and the ubiquity of the Web pervades, free education has never been so accessible. An Internet connection gives lifelong learners the tools to become autodidacts, eschewing exorbitant tuition and joining the ranks of other self-taught great thinkers in history such as Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Paul Allen and Ernest Hemingway.

We can be learning all the time now, whenever we want, and wherever we want. And because of that, we’re seeing explosive growth in online education. We’ve featured several companies and organizations in the past year that are disrupting the online education space including Open Yale, Open Culture, Khan Academy, Academic Earth, P2PU, Skillshare, Scitable and Skype in the Classroom. Now that we’ve reached the end of 2011, it’s time to look back at our previous posts and remind ourselves how far we’ve come and catch up on all that’s happened.

Insider

How the Internet is Revolutionizing Education

This was our seminal piece on online education, which includes interviews with UC Berkeley professors and CEOs and Founders of today’s most disruptive education startups. It’s clear that the world is moving faster than it ever has before. As we learn more about ourselves and more about the world around us through massive amounts of data collection and data transfer at ever increasing speeds, surely the foundations of learning must change too. After all, our current education system is broken, from the bottom up. If we’re going to continue to evolve as a species and as a culture, we’re long overdue for an education revolution. Read the full story here. laptopperu 520x245 In 2011: How the Internet Revolutionized Education

Stay in or drop out? The entrepreneur’s education fiasco

There’s a lot of debate right now about whether or not paying for a degree is worth it, a particular problem facing entrepreneurs. The average public university (in the US) is going to set you back nearly $80,000 for a 4-year program. Going to private school? Up that cost to in excess of $150,000 depending on the school of choice. Oh sure, you might have a piece of paper that says you have a Bachelor of Science or Art degree but what you actually have is something that has become so ubiquitous that it’s really not worth much more than the lint inside your own navel. Read the full story here

How Technology Has Changed Education

The education of a nation’s youth to a full height of academic rigor and standing is a complex process that nearly always spans more than a decade, requires tens of thousands of dollars, dozens of teachers, and of course, technology. Not always the most recent technology, mind you, but even the oldest Pentium One computer was once new. Read the full story here

Skillshare lets you learn anything from anyone

Screen shot 2011 12 23 at 11.48.11 AM In 2011: How the Internet Revolutionized EducationSkillshare is a New York based community marketplace that enables users to learn anything from anyone. It aims to democratize learning by tapping into existing communities and networks. Contrary to the common notion that learning has to occur inside a classroom, Skillshare believes otherwise, appropriately quoting Einstein: “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” This year Skillshare helped raise over $20,000 for Raise Cache and unveiled a new online experienceRead the full story here

In NYC, Coursehorse is changing the way you search for classes

CourseHorse, a New York City startup, provides a simple, innovative way to search for classes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Search can be filtered by price and schedule, so you can find a morning meditation class before your 9am sales pitch. To date, 150 schools have posted over 4,000 classes on the site. Read the full story here

gold rushes0 300x280 In 2011: How the Internet Revolutionized EducationEducation is the next startup Gold Rush, Silicon Valley will be at its heart

There was a time when prospectors from around the world converged on San Francisco with picks and shovels to extract gold from the rolling hills. Today, a similar migration is taking place, though the tools have changed slightly, as servers have taken the place of shovels and a sharp resume will get you deeper into data than blasting caps through solid rock. Education startups will be the new gold rush, and Silicon Valley is sure to be at its heart. Read the full story here.

Could Udemy give a Stanford level of education to anyone with a laptop and wifi connection?

Bill Gates recently said: ‘In 5 years the best education will come from the web’. And if Gates is right then Udemy could be the Stanford of online education institutions. If fact, Udemy could be better than Stanford because instead of being for an elite few that can afford it, Udemy could provide anyone with a laptop and internet connection with a Stanford level of education. Read the full story here.

Hacking education: Is Intel’s Classmate PC program the first step?

Over the past few weeks, my kids and I have been using a convertible laptop/slate, powered by Intel, called a Classmate PC. I did a quick overview of it when it first landed in my house, and I’ve been putting it through its paces ever since, treating it like a kid in a classroom might. Yesterday, I had a chance to talk with Jeff Galinovosky, Regional Manager for Intel and what he had to say about the changing face of ed. tech. was quite interesting. Read the full story here.

An educator’s thoughts on using iOS 5 features in an iPad classroom

A recent post, entitled “Thoughts from the Classroom on WWDC” details how Fraser Speirs, the Head of IT at Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, Scotland, thinks that some of the new features of iOS and Lion will fit in in the classroom. We thought that many of them were fantastic and worth mentioning again here to help get the word out about how cool teaching with iPads can be. Read the full story here.

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60% of students say they wouldn’t attend a school without free WiFi

A recent study by Online Colleges finds that more US college students prefer a hybrid of online/offline education than a pure experience in either direction. This may be a surprise for those that rave about the pros or perils of online classes, but a hybrid learning environment really helps capture the benefits of each. It’s important to bring technology into the classroom and experiment with new forms of education, because old methods may start to fail on new generations! Read the full story here

How to use Twitter in the classroom

The advantage to using a tool like Twitter for education is that it’s instant and it’s to the point. There have been countless articles about whether or not social media makes us lazy, or whether it affects our attention spans. If that really is the case, why not use that to our advantage? Read the full story here.

The future of education lies in technology

Last night, I attended a gathering of some of the smartest technology minds focusing on Education for grades K-12. I didn’t know what to expect, other than Newark Mayor Cory Booker and LinkedIn‘s Founder and Chairman Reid Hoffman being there to listen to seven companies from the ImagineK12 startup incubator in Palo Alto. In a small office within the Palo Alto aol building, teams with big hearts (and sometimes very nervously) discussed their views on the future of Education for children all over the world. Read the full story here

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Clayton Christensen: Why online education is ready for disruption, now.

At The Future of State Universities conference last month, which was sponsored by Academic Partnerships, Dr. Clayton Christensen spoke in front of 250 of the nation’s state university deans, provosts, presidents and faculty about the challenges universities face scaling their education models and how online education can serve students potentially better than brick and mortar classrooms. Christensen is well-known for his academic work on disruptive innovations. And recently, he’s become a key figure in the online learning community with his new book: Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns that he co-authored with Michael Horn. Read the full story here.

News

The Open University is number one on iTunes U, surpasses 40m downloads

iTunes U is Apple’s iTunes Store for education, distributing information such as audio and video from lectures to learners around the world, meaning that universities and colleges have a single home for all its digital content. The Open University in the UK is leading the university pack, notching over 40m downloads. Read the full story here.

Screen shot 2011 12 23 at 4.57.31 PM 300x282 In 2011: How the Internet Revolutionized EducationiTunes U secures 600m downloads…300m in the last year alone

iTunes U has secured more than 600m downloads since it launched in 2007. That’s impressive enough in itself, but more than half that figure has happened in the past year, and with more than 1,000 universities currently with active accounts, things could get even bigger for it. So who are the biggest downloaders? Read the full story here.

The Next Education: A $49, web-based textbook is coming

We might be one step closer to a fully digital classroom if California State Universityand The Nature Publishing Group have their way about things. The two have paired up to bring us a step closer to the reality by agreeing to a three-year partnership in support of a Principles of Biology textbook. Read the full story here.

Oja.la hopes to bring online learning to Latin American aspiring entrepreneurs

Although Oja.la doesn’t use the word “crowdsourcing,” that’s exactly what it does. This new IT learning platform in Spanish makes sure enough people are interested in an online class before organizing it. “Ojalá” is a Spanish word that could translate to “let’s hope that”; what many ignore is that it actually derivates from the Arabic expression law sha’Allah, “if God wished it.” Beyond etymology, hope is a central component in Oja.la’s identity – as students will place hopes in the platform. In many places across Latin America, it is difficult if not impossible to find good offline classes about new technologies, especially from experienced speakers. Read the full story here.

Wikipedia co-founder launches Reading Bear, an online phonics tutorial for kids

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, who left the crowdsourced encyclopedia project shortly after it was launched, announced a neat new online tool called Reading Bear, which is a “systematic phonics tutorial.” Reading Bear is a project from WatchKnowLearn, a non-profit, K-12 (ages 4-7) repository of educational videos created by Sanger and Tom Pittman, and it’s supported by an anonymous benefactor who has “a long-standing goal to use technology to better the education of poor children.” Read the full story here.

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Apple’s plan to get its products in schools? Educate the educators.

Apple products have penetrated multiple markets, shaking up the way people work, create, design and learn by using the company’s range of desktop computers, notebooks and handheld devices. The company’s CEO, Tim Cook, recently told media at its iPhone 4S launch event that the iPad was now being deployed or tested by 92 percent of the Fortune 500 within their enterprises, rising from 75 percent last quarter. Just under half of the Global 500 have adopted the tablet – using it in medical establishments, in construction and a whole range of different environments. Read the full story here

Thailand’s $130 million junior school tablet initiative set for trial

Thailand’s Ministry of Education is preparing the first pilot of its $130 million (400 billion baht) initiative to give primary school children in the country a tablet computer. The pilot is focused on analysing the educational benefit of the tablet devices for young students with 500 devices given to children in 5 selected junior schools across the capital Bangkok. Read the full story here

Apps

Play Ludwig teaches students physics in a brilliant, interactive game

Ludwig is an educational based game that teaches students physics. Ludwig’s story revolves around a lovable research robot of the same name who has crashed landed on Earth and needs materials to return to his home planet. “The whole game, the entire story is focused on energy. From the minute you start the game, it’s very clear to you what the game is all about, and what you need to do,” says conceptional design and production lead Jochen Kranzer, “it’s a problem based learning approach.” Read the full story here

MySchoolHelp focuses on social note taking for high school students

18-year-old Ben Lang’s latest project is MySchoolHelp, a site focused on helping high school students share notes to prepare for tests and quizzes. This is a type of entrepreneurial focus that excites me, because it’s a service that fits a very specific need. Technology is much-needed in Education, and Ben Lang is taking full advantage of the opportunity. Read the full story here.

leo ipad2 260x169 In 2011: How the Internet Revolutionized EducationInteractive music lessons for children on the iPad and iPhone

Kiboomu is a Montreal-based startup that is bringing children interactive musical experiences through the use of iPad and iPhone applications. The educational apps aimed at preschoolers, teaches children how to make music while introducing them to new instruments and music notes. And from what Kiboomu tells us, the demand for these types of apps has been overwhelming. Read the full story here.

Stickery is reinventing mobile gaming and education for kids

Stickery, a company that is building a mobile learning platform focused on games for kids, generates progress reports for teachers and parents, using curriculums that are approved by educators. The company has announced its seed funding led by Google Ventures and 500 Startups, so it’s clear that education is ripe for innovation, and these two titans believe in Stickery’s vision. Read the full story here.

Coding

Trouble learning Ruby? Bloc teaches you how to code

Screen shot 2011 12 23 at 11.37.23 AM In 2011: How the Internet Revolutionized EducationBloc, a new educational startup, makes it easy for you to start writing in Ruby. It allows anyone to build and deploy web applications in their browser with zero setup, showing results instantly. This is great for many reasons, but speaking from personal experience, getting started with Ruby can be an absolute, jaw-dropping nightmare for beginners. Bloc’s goal, to reduce worldwide unemployment through large-scale education, is becoming more feasible as they continue to grow. The company has already seen 7,000 lessons completed in two weeks, with 3,000 applications deployed to the web. Many new courses should be arriving soon, as well. Read the full story here.

Codecademy: Learning to code just became fun, easy and slightly addictive

Codecademy bills itself as “the easiest way to learn how to code”. The Y-Combinator bred, New York City based company teaches people to code through free interactive instruction. Founders Zachary Sims and Ryan Bubinski started in Y-Combinator with a business idea that matched programmers with jobs based on tests and basic programming challenges. Over the course of the program, the idea for Code Academy evolved. Why not teach people to code first and help them with the job prospects after? Read the full story here.

Squad: a collaborative code editor that can be used in the classroom

SquadLogo 300x149 In 2011: How the Internet Revolutionized EducationSquad is a real-time, web-based collaborative code editor built by the folks at Code Together, which is based out of SproutBox, a startup incubator located in Bloomington, Indiana. Squad is built on the idea that working together produces better code and better products. Have you ever collaborated on a Google Document? It’s a similar concept. Squad’s tools are for both experts and those learning to code that supports more than 15 common programming languages including HTML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript, XML, Python, Lua, C, C++. Read the full story here.

CodeNow to train the youth of America to be the world’s next Mark Zuckerberg

One non-profit called CodeNow has decided to take on bridging the gap between technology and underrepresented youth.CodeNow was featured on the White House blog, with Director of the Office of Public Engagement Jon Carson saying he was immediately impressed with the organization and was thinking about ways that to engage non-profits around the country to act similarly. Read the full story here.

“Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” -Albert Einstein

Are you disrupting online education? Did we miss your news? Let us know so we can keep up with you in 2012!