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Shai Reshef and University of The People… Another Player To Watch

By on September 7, 2011
Emerging, Ethics, International, Minorities, Required, Technology, Universities & Colleges


Here’s another installment from the series of stories Tamar Lewin wrote for The New York Times about online education. This one looks at The University of the People. 

Aug. 25 – Open Courses, Nearly Free. By Tamar lewin

After the earthquake in Haiti destroyed much of the country’s higher-education infrastructure, The University of the People decided to set up three computer centers there, inviting English-speaking students from nearby tent cities to come and work for four hours a day.

The Israeli entrepreneur behind the university, Shai Reshef, spent $1 million of his own money to create the university two years ago. The poor people who take classes in rural parts of the world often don’t have electricity or computers, he tells the Times.

Mr. Reshef sees his project as a way to use the Internet to bring higher education to poor students around the world. It uses free software and has enlisted hundreds of volunteer professors — more, he said, than he has been able to use — to teach 10-week online courses to 1,000 students from more than 100 countries. Starting this fall, students will have to pay $10 to $50 for admission.

In each class, 20 to 40 students are assigned weekly reading material and are required to post their responses and comment on others’ responses. The course materials are deliberately low-tech, with no audio or video, so that students can use them anywhere.

The university is not accredited, and it offers programs only in business administration and computer science. But in June, it got two votes of confidence: New York University announced a partnership under which unusually promising but needy University of the People students might be able to enroll at N.Y.U.’s Abu Dhabi campus and receive financial aid, and Hewlett-Packard announced an internship program, saying it believed strongly “in the work UoPeople is doing to democratize higher education.”

More from: http://www.ashoka.org/fellow/shai-reshef

For over 15 years, Shai has worked to break down the geographical and financial barriers to educational access. He believes that access to education and freedom of information are human rights and has unwavering faith in the natural willingness of people to help one another. Today, Shai is the founder and president of the University of the People, the worlds first tuition-free global online university specifically created to serve poor, remote, and disadvantaged populations. As a pioneer in the emerging field of free online education, Shai hopes to give people solutions to transform society by combining entrepreneurship, education, and political activism. UoPeople currently serves students from 49 countries. With operations currently housed in Tel Aviv, Shai envisions global offices in California, India and Africa.

More from Shai Reshef’s blog, here:

About Shai Reshef

Starting in 1989, Shai Reshef served as chairman of the Kidum Group, a test preparation company, which he sold in 2005 to Kaplan, one of the world’s largest education companies. While chairman of Kidum, he built an online university affiliated with the University of Liverpool, enrolling students from more than 100 countries; that business was sold to Laureate, another large for-profit education company, in 2004. A vessel for universal higher education, UoPeople has the enormous potential to function as a global stimulus package, reaching even the most remote and poorest places on earth. Our ultimate mission is to democratize higher education and, if the past two years are any indication, this is not merely a pipe dream.





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