Online higher education 2.0 has arrived. It is open source, open enrollment and often provided by non-profit colleges. It has the potential to greatly expand access to higher education and to rapidly improve the knowledge base of global citizens. It is the antithesis of high-priced, online for-profit schools like University of Phoenix.

The momentum in online education is being captured by schools like University of California Berkeley, which recently joined Harvard and MIT in a not-for-profit online learning collaboration supported by edX, an open source technology platform.

Online collaborative platforms support massive open online courses (MOOC), which are often offered for free (or for small fees) and allow students from around the world to register for coursework from top tier schools. In a recent report, Moody’s described the potential for universities using MOOCs:

Massive Open Online Courses enable colleges to experiment and refine electronic delivery methods, evaluate scalability, identify best suited faculty, gauge the quality of student learning outcomes, and assess demand. MOOCs diverge from traditional online courses which sought to duplicate the classroom experience, including approximate class size. In addition, the availability of open platforms enables a university to post content without incurring the cost of developing and maintaining the platform.

Online learning technologies will play an increasing role in creating new efficiencies and lowering the cost per student. Successful adoption enables educators to expand and diversify their student bodies and increase faculty scheduling flexibility and productivity.