By Brian Johnsrud
Creeping up upon us is graduation time. Putting the books aside for robes and tassels, high school and college graduation can be some of the most defining moments in an individual's life time.
But, maybe we're a little too used to the normal cap and gown routine to notice some of the newest, even technological, advances to the ceremony, and even the process to getting there.
It's all heading towards the net. For the first time, a graduation that took place in the United Kingdom had graduates sitting at their homes in the U.S., Taiwan, Iceland, Finland, Switzerland, Greece, Hong Kong, and other countries, receiving their diplomas.
The first of its kind, this online college graduation ceremony consisted of students participating through computer cameras connected to the Internet. Vice-chancellor, Sir John Daniel, hosted the graduation in person. There was a home base for the ceremony in Milton Keynes, Buchinghamshire, where recorded voices gave their graduation speeches. Afterwards, the class was invited to an online chat about their college experience.
Most of the colleges that offer online courses give students access to learning in almost every area. Within the past year, as a matter of fact, the number of schools that offer this kind of education has more than doubled. But this can still be just as expensive as actually attending the class.
Recently, an American billionaire has placed a $100 million dollar down-payment on a project he is sponsoring to provide the world with the first free college. Anyone would be able to have access, as long as they have a computer and Internet access.
Michael Saylor, chief executive of MicroStrategy, has had this dream for quite a while, and now it may be coming true. "I fanatically believe the world could be better than it is and it makes me mad that it isn't, and in this particular case I would just like to see education free for everybody," said Saylor.
The courses would be similar to a class of any size, and a professor's lecture streaming in through a video connection for anyone to watch. The process of making this a reality is still in a bit of a slow spot. Without any current staff, specified curriculum, or project cost, the online college plans are being swarmed upon the critics. Many say it is simply a publicity stunt with no real goals in mind.
However, creating a no-profit college, Saylor comments, "If I wanted to do something with $100 million to feed my ego I could think of other things to buy with it."