Spreading Capitalism

Seattle — Udacity, a company offering free online courses and aiming to bring higher education to the world, will participate in a new global entrepreneurship training program beginning in November. The company will partner with Startup Weekend, TechStars, Startup America and startup guru, Steve Blank, and others to create Startup Weekend Next.

>Udacity Blends Online Course with Offline Education

The Utopian promise of the internet has always been a capitalist promise, a political project in which people could do well by doing the right thing. Poverty would be alleviated not by consciousness raising but by markets. Nothing epitomizes this spirit more than this new Udacity project, called “experiential entrepreneurship education” which combines an online class with a kind of intensive workshop.

I doubt this will jump-start the world economy but I bet it will launch more than a few businesses. This is one of those good ideas that if the Republican Party– supposedly the party of business–had any sense at all, would be one of the pillars of its economic and foreign policy. It might be a struggle to sell this to those middle aged angry white men, but it wouldn’t be impossible. It’d broaden the Republican party’s demographic base too.

This is also one of those projects that those of us interested in substantive change ought to consider carefully and perhaps emulate. If Steve Blank can use online education– or a hybrid education, more precisely– to spread capitalism, what can we use it for? How about an online course and workshop that teaches activism? Perhaps it would be called “Occupy 101.” Or a course in Democratic Socialism, or radical economics or …

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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