Independence Day and the Democratisation of Education

In the year 1776, on a warm but cloudy 4th of July, the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence after a long struggle with the Kingdom of Great Britain, the then-ruling colonial power. The Committee of Five, consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson among others, had spent weeks drafting the declaration before presenting it to Congress and produced one of the most important documents in modern times.

(Photo: Martin Burns)

The signing of the declaration meant a decisive step towards a free nation and is still widely celebrated as Independence Day. It is the most important national holidays in the United States and stands as an important symbol for a nation that holds liberty and democracy as the most important values of all.

But a democracy can’t be built overnight: it still took the young nation more than 10 years until the Federal Government was formed and George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States in 1789. Naturally, things happen a lot faster now in the internet age than during the time of the Founding Fathers.

Just like the United States began their journey towards freedom and liberty back then, it is now higher education that is becoming more democratic. Massive Open Online Courses offer education for everybody: accessible from every place in the world, with modern didactics that meet individual student’s needs and without high entry requirements that are unsurmountable for many. The internet makes all of this possible. Within 8 years, the number of internet users in the world rose from roughly 1 billion to 2.8 billion, more than one third of the world’s population. With so many people connected to the internet, it is time to bring education into the digital age as well – because we think that MOOCs will bring about an unprecedent transformation of higher education and will without doubt change many people’s lives for the better. We look forward to your thoughts on the democratisation of higher education!

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