I have blogged frequently on the workforce challenges facing the utility industry resulting from accelerating retirement among engineers and skilled workers and by the technology transformation associated with the smart grid. Community colleges in partnership with utiltiies have been the quickest to respond to this challenge. But universities, encouraged by program like the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus program, are responding as well, though they are also facing an aging workforce problem.
Now something has appeared on the horizon in education that may provide a way of ramping up more rapidly to the challenge of training the next generation of engineers and skilled workers.
From October 10th to December 18th 2011 Stanford offered a free, on-line course, "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence", open to anyone, that attracted 160'000 students. The term applied to this type of on-line education is massive open on-line courses (MOOCs).
In August 2012, the online education company Coursera began offering free college courses. Since Coursera launched, the company has registered a total of almost 2.8 million users, with approximately 1.45 million students enrolling in courses each month. Coursera also recently began offering students opportunities to receive credit and recognition for their work through organizations such as the American Council on Education (ACE).
Earlier this year Penn State joined Coursera, making it possible for the University to provide courses to hundreds of thousands more students than was previously possible. Penn State's initial MOOC offerings will focus on five courses including Maps and the Geospatial Revolution, taught by Dr. Anthony C. Robinson. Last year Glenn Letham interviewed Anthony Robinson about geospatial education at Penn State.