Japan’s Cyber University, the nation’s only university to offer all classes on the Internet, began offering a class today that is taught over mobile phones. Students will be able to learn about the mysteries of the pyramids while on the go. Cyber University, which opened in April with government approval to give bachelor’s degrees, has 1,850 students. Softbank owns 71 percent of the institute.
The lectures are shown as a streaming video on the handset, with text and images appearing on the screen. The professor’s voice can be heard in the background. In a demonstration Wednesday, an image on the pyramids popped up on the screen and changed to a text image as a voice played from the handset speakers. Ancient Egyptians would be mystified and willing to trade any pyramid for such wondrous technology.
For now, a course on pyramids will be the only one offered via cellphone. But unlike other classes offered by Cyber University, this class will be available to the public for free. If all goes well with the pyramid course, the university plans to add other cellphone offerings in the future.
I’m a bit leery about online credit from any university. There isn’t any real-time think on your feet exchange between students and professors. There are no set times where you have to be disciplined enough to show up at a certain place at a certain time. Instead, students can view lectures when it is at their leisure. Higher education should be about struggle and inconvenience. This weeds out the less dedicated and awards the rest with an achievement forged out of fire.