Dawn Of The Citizen Professor?

It should be no surprise that journalists are talking about citizen journalism, but what of the disintermediation of other industries?

Man-on-the-street Mark Georgiev told Marketplace:

I didn’t want a certificate, I didn’t want any kind of accreditation, I really just wanted the knowledge. And I also wanted to work at my own pace.

Georgiev, the story explains, has a masters from Yale but wanted to learn programming. That’s when he found Foundations of Software Engineering in MIT’s OpenCourseware.

Georgiev finished the course in a few months time. Now, he says, he can now write rudimentary programs. His only expense was buying books.

MIT isn’t alone, and at least one professor has started selling his lectures as podcasts (via), without support from the school.

Noting that students may want to use the audio recordings while cramming for tests, as an alternative to taking notes, or as an aid for non-native English speakers, NCSU’s Robert Schrag cited policy that “each professor owns the words that he or she speaks in the classroom and can do whatever they wish with them — put them in a textbook, on a CD, sell them as MP3s — whatever.”

NCSU didn’t quite see it the same way and asked Schrag to stop, but that doesn’t change the fact that the role of educational institutions — like the role of publishers — is changing.

How long before Schrag, or somebody with a similar spirit, tries again? Audio recordings and downloadable courseware may not replicate the classroom experience any more than online communities replicate physical communities, but who would claim education will be any less affected by technology than any other industry?