Reducing the Cost of Higher Education
In a past post about a new educational model Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It seems that more and more well know universities are offering MOOCs. Allowing anyone to have access to some of the best professors in their fields for free.
This movement has started to cause people to examine the question of what should the cost of higher education really be? The question is being raised often enough that a post on the HBR blog has started to address it.
The biggest challenge is getting employers to understand the value of the MOOCs. They still don’t know what to think about them.
According to a recent Financial Times article, many employers are unsure of what to make of MOOC education — unsurprising, since many new technologies and business models go through multiple evolutions. The good news, according to the article, is that 80% of respondents surveyed would accept MOOC-like education for their internal employee development. We can extrapolate from this survey that the employer demand for online education exists — and, moreover, that it is only a matter of time until universities and well-funded venture capitalists will respond to this white space in the market very soon.
Employers find it great for already hired and in the workforce people but what about using the system to get a college degree? Would it be totally free?
Georgia Tech, in fact, has already responded; in January, it will begin offering a master’s degree in computer science, delivered through MOOCs, for $6,600. The courses that lead to the degree are available for free to anyone through Udacity, but students admitted to the degree program (and paying the fee) would receive extra services like tutoring and office hours, as well as proctored exams.
In the near future, higher education will cost nothing and will be available to anyone in the world. Degrees may not be free, but the cost of getting some core education will be. All a student needs is a computing device and internet access. Official credentialing from an on-ground university may cost more; in early 2012, MIT’s MOOC, MITx, started to offer online courses with credentials, for “a small fee” available for successful students — and we’re eager to see how Georgia Tech’s MOOC degree will transform the education model.
This seems reasonable to me. You can take the courses for free, but to get the degree or access to office hours, tutoring and other services you pay a fee.
So now the student has the power to decide whether they pay for the learning or not. The next step is to make a database that shows the student took the class and completed it. Nothing more. Then a person could list it on their resume and employers have a way to validate the person actually did it. Maybe universities can change to have access to the database?
I find the MOOC system very intriguing. As someone who has two elementary school aged kids, I am very interested in how the educational system will start to transform over the next decade and how employers will except the changes.