The format of a central location that teaches and awards qualifications has changed little since. But the arrival of the internet - and in particular mass market broadband access - is about to change all that.
As usual, it's the Americans who are leading the way in this regard. World class institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now making their lecture and course notes available free online (thanks to the tip on this from UCD's Geary Institute, by the way).
Of course, distance learning has been with us for some time. Of more interest is how some universities are now seeking to engage more directly as educators with their wider community. Take, for example, UC Berkeley's fascinating initiative with its Greater Good Magazine. Here's their 'mission statement':
Greater Good highlights ground breaking scientific research into the roots of compassion and altruism. It fuses this science with inspiring stories of compassion in action, providing a bridge between social scientists and parents, educators, community leaders, and policy makers.Check out the latest issue on The 21st Century Family for some great examples of applied social science.
Of course, it isn't just the third level institutions themselves that are driving educational innovation. My favourite is Apple's iTunes U - listen to the best lectures from the best universities around the world, for free.
From Morocco to MP3 files in just over 1,000 years - and the next 10 years will likely see even greater innovation.