"Bandwidth Divide" could prevent some people from learning online

March 6, 2013

As more US colleges rush to offer free online courses in the name of providing educational access to everyone, it's worth asking who might be left out for lack of high-speed Internet access to watch video lectures. Those running massive open online courses (MOOCs) see the widening "Bandwidth Divide" as an obstacle. "I agree this is an issue, a big issue," says Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun. Public libraries may become the de facto classrooms for MOOC students who lack Internet access at home. But many libraries offer an imperfect solution to access, with limited hours and long wait times for shared computers. The good news is that the number of people with Internet access is growing, and, as Thrun points out, Internet access is much cheaper than college tuition. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)