Classroom Technology

Distance Learning Gets $100 Million Pledge

By Julie Blair — March 22, 2000 2 min read

A Washington-area billionaire who made his fortune in technology has pledged $100 million to start up an online university that he says will provide students worldwide with an “Ivy League education"—free of charge.

Michael J. Saylor, the president, chief executive officer, and chairman of MicroStrategy Inc. in Tysons Corner, Va., announced the donation at the Greater Washington Business Philanthropy Summit last week, but provided few details of the project.

The 35-year-old entrepreneur, whose company sells e-commerce software, told The Washington Post that he envisions hiring top-notch professors and asking them to videotape their lectures in a studio built somewhere in the Washington region. The tapes would be projected over the Internet to students around the world.

Courses would also make use of multimedia resources. For example, a class on the Vietnam War may show both front-line skirmishes and film of policymakers discussing the reasoning behind the escalation of the war, according to an article in the Post that reported Mr. Saylor’s plan.

“Done right, this will impact the lives of millions of people forever,” Mr. Saylor told the newspaper. “Done wrong, it’s just noise in a can.”

He added that such an endeavor could become “a cyber Library of Congress.”

The philanthropist earned his two bachelor’s degrees in traditional classrooms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a company spokesman said. One degree is in aeronautics and astronautics; the other is in humanities and engineering.

Mr. Saylor aims to bridge what is called the “digital divide,” separating those who have ready access to technology from those who do not.

His project may or may not accomplish that goal, according to Gary A. Berg, an expert on educational technology and distance learning at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

Students “are still going to need access to computers” to participate, Mr. Berg noted in an interview. “That’s still going to be an issue.”

If the project is realized, a free online university may shake up the distance-learning field, Mr. Berg added. Many colleges and universities currently provide distance-learning courses as both a complement to traditional classes and a moneymaker, he said.

Providing the services at no charge could compel administrators in higher education to shift their methods of building revenue, Mr. Berg suggested, and force institutions to offer free distance education.

“Universities will lose control of knowledge, as they should,” Mr. Saylor told the Post. “We all share the right to our leaders and geniuses.” He said college administrators “will bow to the inevitable. It will happen without them; it would happen without me. It’s too good an idea.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 22, 2000 edition of Education Week as Distance Learning Gets $100 Million Pledge

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Like Police Officers, Educators Have Been Caught on Camera Behaving Badly
Several recent incidents show how students and parents can use their cellphones to capture abusive or racist behavior by some educators.
9 min read
cellphone video 1242161726 02
Petro Bevz/iStock/Getty
Classroom Technology School District Leaders Are Still Worried About Home Internet Access for Students
Schools have scaled-up their efforts to help more kids get online, according to a new survey, but concerns remain about tech equity.
2 min read
Veronica Esquivel, 10, finishes her homework after her virtual school hours while her brother Isias Esquivel sits in front of the computer, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, at their residence in Chicago's predominantly Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood.
Veronica Esquivel, 10, finishes her homework in her Chicago home after a day of virtual school in February.
Shafkat Anowar/AP
Classroom Technology Teachers: Here Are Tips for Using Your New 'Geeky' Skills to Improve Classroom Management
How educators can use the lessons of the pandemic to reshape classroom management for next school year and beyond.
6 min read
A group of people manage a complicated problem
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
Classroom Technology Lessons Learned From Teachers About How to Develop New Technology Skills
Two teachers who learned new technology skills during the pandemic share how they think schools should rethink professional development.
6 min read
A self-learning teacher looks beyond their computer screen
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus