Marginal Revolution University Announces First Course

Tyler Cowen is a professor at George Mason University and is a noted economist and author and an editor of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution. Today comes word that Cowen and his colleague Alex Tabarrok are launching a new free online higher education platform called Marginal Revolution University, with the first economics course scheduled to start on October 1.

We think education should be better, cheaper, and easier to access,” said Cowen. “So we decided to take matters into our own hands and create a new online education platform toward those ends. We have decided to do more to communicate our personal vision of economics to you and to the broader world.”

Cowen laid out the basics of the new platform in a concise blog post. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The product is free and we offer more material in less time.
  • Most of our videos are short, so you can view and listen between tasks, rather than needing to schedule time for them. The average video is five minutes, twenty-eight seconds long. When needed, more videos are used to explain complex topics.
  • We have plans to subtitle the videos in major languages.  Our reach will be global, and in doing so we are building upon the global emphasis of our home institution, George Mason University.
  • It is low bandwidth and mobile-friendly.  No ads.
  • No talking heads and no long, boring lectures. We have tried to reconceptualize every aspect of the educational experience to be friendly to the online world.

Stanford’s Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller also thought that education should be “better, cheaper, and easier to access” before they launched their higher ed platform Coursera. Sebastian Thrun—also from Stanford—had a similar conviction before going forward with Udacity. We’ve got paragons of higher learning moving beyond the brick and mortar to provide the masses with free educational options. We’ll see if Cowen and Tabarrok can make a similar impact.

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