January 14th, 2013 post to gigaom by Ki Mae Heussner describes how the founders of The Minerva Project are raising capital to build-out a new model for higher education - one that provides the kind of educational excellence offered by an Ivy League University but at a fraction of the cost.
According to a May 7th, 2012 post to The Daily The Minerva Project's approach involves cherry-picking faculty and students who are willing to work in a new model: "The world’s top academics will be “borrowed” from universities around the world to create courses, and students will be assessed on every aspect of their participation in live online tutorials and study groups." While courses will be offered online, students will be "encouraged to live in “dorm clusters” around the world" so that the collaborative learning and social aspects of college life are not lost.
While other for-profit companies are offering online education (like Phoenix University), The Minerva Project is aiming higher. The Minerva Project founders hope to appeal to elite students - many from outside the US - who cannot afford a traditional Ivy League education or who were passed over at Harvard and Yale (the limited number of slots at Ivy League schools mean that thousands of qualified candidates are not admitted to Ivy League schools each year).
While many academics are eager to explore online education and are fascinated by the hybrid model that The Minerva Project intends to offer, many are still cautious: Ryan Kelsey, director of projects at the Columbia University's Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, thinks Minerva “could go either way.” “We have a lot to learn still about how to make an online education experience as compelling as what you can get in really great classrooms at some of the great universities,” Kelsey said. “Places like Columbia for example still have a long future as a face-to-face institution."
Thanks to educator and consultant Nick DeMartino for the link.