Well... I have talked about this before and it probably boils down to a degree and someone to marry, but that is not what I want to talk about now...
What I am interested in is how this changes the way people learn. If you are interested in learning anything, you can. But I also think there is an opportunity here. If you are a teacher or someone who has a particular interest in a particular field, how much is your feedback worth?
What if there was a social media network where you could join to get feedback from tutors?You could send them essays or you could have video conferences? Would it be possible for academics to freelance and provide their own qualifications. Seth Godin is running an alternative MBA. I am pretty sure that will carry some weight. What is stopping someone from starting up their own online university?
Obviously, the more renowned you are the more scope you would have to do this. But if you did a better job at lecturing than the walking brains on academicearth.org, and people started watching your videos, and reading your work... why not?
Maybe I am giving to much value to the idea that there are people who may want to learn for learning's sake... but by the same token, if your work supplements a person at a brick and mortar university, why can't someone sitting in South Africa tutor someone at university at Princeton. That ivy leaguers pocket money would convert into a tidy sum of rands.
I am also interested in how this is going to affect schools. Where teachers no longer tell students stuff that they can't bring up in a computer in seconds. Teachers end up guiding students in their own endeavours. You don't need standards and classes. Each child can go at their own pace and follow their interests.
Schools can be there to teach social interaction, sport, dance, drama, art and emotional maturity... but only guide students in the more traditional academic learnings.