One way to gauge the success of a business is to note how well it fulfills its mission statement. In the case of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) -- whose ambitious mission "is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" -- this is no small feat.

I was reminded of the company's lofty purpose last week when the Mountain View-based giant announced that it was partnering with the University of California at Berkeley to make more than 100 introductory-level lectures available through Google Video.

Curious, I visited the website and selected the first session of the "Physics for Future Presidents" course. I clicked on the first video, titled "Atoms and Heat."

Now, I admit that I am a little more inclined than the average Joe to get excited about physics, but I was hooked from the professor's opening remarks when he used a Toyota (NYSE:TM) commercial to explain the concept of energy. (The advertisement shows a Toyota pickup surviving a meteor strike.)

Although few will spend much time watching the hundreds of hours of free instruction UC Berkeley is offering via Google, the move suggests that Google is committed to fulfilling its mission to make the world's knowledge accessible and useful.

Moreover, because the company has been able to monetize much of the information that is disseminated on the Internet, I am confident that it can do the same with this feature. For instance, Google could make some good money by providing targeted advertising to viewers interested in particular courses on art, science, politics, or finance.

As Google expands this service to new universities and other educational outlets, it may soon pose a real threat to such institutions as Apollo Group's (NASDAQ:APOL) University of Phoenix and Capella University.

As it stands right now, viewers can't earn credit for watching these courses; and, as such, they cannot receive any accreditation for the knowledge they acquire. However, as the world continues to "flatten," I question just how valuable diplomas will be in the future -- especially when people are judged more on what they know and less on where or how they acquired that knowledge.

At a minimum, this latest development suggests that online universities such as CorinthianCollege (NASDAQ:COCO) must now join the growing legions of companies who have begun considering how Google will affect their business models. Google is making good on its mission statement, and that's great news for its investors.

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Fool contributor Jack Uldrichnever took a course before 8 a.m. in college, but -- to his own amazement -- he is now watching "Physics for Future Presidents" at 6 a.m.. He also owns stock in Google. The Fool has a strict disclosure policy.