Make Believe Captains Make Believe Voyages

Question One:  Can a make-believe captain, “voyaging” on make-believe sailing ships, accelerate the delivery of free universal education, worldwide?

Question Two: Is there any such thing as “free”?

Let’s start with Question Two. It’s easier.

Since there’s no such thing as a ‘free lunch”, how can Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Instagram all be “free”? Heck. Even the Olympics are “free” — on the telly; on the Web; the phone, your favorite tablet.

How is this possible?

It’s possible because the real world costs (and profits) are as cleverly hidden as the rabbit inside a magician’s sleeve. Hats off to the magicians who tied the novelty of radio to baseball and Budweiser.  After that, the world was “home free”.

Arguably, “free” is the world’s most powerful illusion.

Now, some very smart magicians are shaking up universities that date back to the 9th Century.  If Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and Yale aren’t safe from the magic of “free”, what is?

For many operating behind the curtain, this is no surprise.  Tickets to the ballparks of higher education are not just extraordinarily pricey; there’s also serious questions about their (real world) worth. Who needs to go to the game when you can have it interactively in high-definition right from your couch? Free.

For the magicians tapping the aspirations of millions of highly ambitious students, this could be worth billions. The consumer gets intellectual nutrients of lifetime value in exchange for stuff they buy with real money.

Now, let’s turn to Question One.

Since I’m the make-believe captain that annually led make-believe “Voyages of Discovery”  – I’m not sure I can give you an unbiased response.

What I do know is that lacing hard facts with a captivating fable makes for a good story. And if you are going to take down all those bricks and all that mortar, you better have a good story.

(More? Search Global Learn Day)

NOTE: The above was submitted by me to comply with Assignment One for a Coursera course entitled  Fantasy and Science Fiction


About oregonhibbs

I'm passionate about improving access to education, worldwide, sailing, Duck football (I live in the shadow of the University of Oregon in Eugene) and connecting with people with ideas and work that "can change the world". With this in mind, I am the "Skipper" for Global Learn Day, which you can find out more about at

Posted on July 28, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi John, I saw your post here… although I think this would fit way better as a discussion forum topic. The idea is that for this class we are reading these books that explore the worlds of fantasy and science fiction, starting with the folktales of the Brothers Grimm. Did you read any of their stories? I’m not quite sure what will happen, but my guess is that this essay will not get distributed to other students in the class to read, since you have shared your thoughts about education but nothing about the Brothers Grimm. You can definitely use the discussion board to talk about Coursera and the future of education; I’ve seen other folks talking about that topic and sharing ideas there.

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