Entering the Next Generation in Online Instruction

In the last few months we have seen the launch of edX, Coursera, and TED-Ed.  All three with the institutional backing to become major players in online education for the near future.  It’s an exciting time for anyone with a love of learning.

Education is evolving and classrooms are changing.  I believe we are heading into the next generation in online instruction, here are just a few of the signs.

Prestigious Universities Offering High Quality Web Optimized Courses for Free

The first generation of online courses mimicked the offline course experience.  Lectures were often the same length online as they were offline.   Assignments and tests also followed a similar structure as their offline equivalents.

In this next generation, lessons are broken down into smaller pieces with lectures, assignments, and assessments in a more web digestible format.  There is a general timeline but students are allowed to choose the best time to watch the lectures and complete the coursework.  Course discussions happen in an online community kind of way.

The Universities putting out these courses have been promising that they are on same level as their offline kin, just free and open to the world.   Makes you wonder how long it will be until you can string courses together to develop your own home school higher ed program.

Fresh Spectrum cartoon showing a man looking into a mirror and awarding himself a phD


EdX is a joint partnership between The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to offer online learning to millions of people around the world. EdX will offer Harvard and MIT classes online for free. Through this partnership, the institutions aim to extend their collective reach to build a global community of online learners and to improve education for everyone.


We offer high quality courses from the top universities, for free to everyone. We currently host courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania. We are changing the face of education globally, and we invite you to join us.

Content Structured to Allow Teachers and Students to Customize Learning Experiences

Since it’s online launch, TED has been a great source of material to pack into lessons, now they’re taking it to the next level.  TED-Ed offers the chance to mix any YouTube video with assessments and package it for your students.  It’s like Khan Academy but with many, many, more instructors.

Fresh Spectrum cartoon showing a teacher presenting a range of choices for each students daily education


This platform also allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED’s, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student.

Khan Academy

With over 3,200 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, we’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.

Platforms that Give Everyone the Chance to Teach Online

You don’t have to be a teacher or a programmer to teach a class on the web.  Tech that makes it so any expert can easily start their own course allows for the development of more specialized online educational content and adds a level of competition for the basics.

Fresh Spectrum cartoon showing a student talking to their professor saying how they started teaching courses online and now believe the professor's classes are overpriced


Udemy’s goal is to disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online.

Just as blogging democratized the publishing industry (enabling anyone to instantly become a journalist), Udemy seeks to dramatically change education by empowering millions of experts around the world to teach & share what they know.

Gamified Learning Platforms

Educational computer games have been around since the early days of the PC.  Gamified platforms are something different.  Instead of games setup to educate, gamified platforms are courses setup with game elements (scores, levels, leaderboards, etc.) designed to help students become engaged in the material and keep them moving forward.

Fresh Spectrum cartoon showing a small child telling her mother that with a little bit more XP her class will soon move to the next grade level


There isn’t a great Codecademy ‘About’ video on their site but I found this interview with the founders on Mashable.  They don’t start talking about Codecademy until the 2:30 mark.

Codecademy was created out of the frustrations Zach and Ryan felt with learning how to program. Tired with less effective text and video resources, Ryan and Zach teamed up to create Codecademy, a better, more interactive way to learn programming by actually coding. This is just the beginning. Join us as we make it easy for everyone to love and learn how to code.