Friday, May 17, 2013

Huge disruption in higher education

There are seismic shifts happening in higher education. One of the big changes is the move to online education. Several universities have started offering online courses. Georgia Tech is now offering a full online degree, for a sixth the cost.

Georgia Tech Takes MOOCs to the Next Level opens with:

Georgia Tech announced yesterday that it is teaming up with Udacity, one of the leading providers of massively open online education, to offer a full graduate program in computer science. For a mere $7,000 dollars—or 1/6 the cost of the equivalent program offered on campus—students who meet the prerequisites can fulfill the requirements of a master’s degree entirely through open courseware.

This is a big deal. As the Washington Post notes, even MOOC-friendly colleges like Stanford, Harvard, and San Jose State have been reluctant to actually grant credentials for their online courses, preferring to use them as a teaching aids rather than as the foundation of a program. There have been the usual concerns about quality control, as well as worries that an all-MOOC degree could dilute the value of Georgia Tech’s traditional degrees, but Georgia Tech claims it has taken these concerns into account:

There is a huge demand for cheaper degrees.  There is no fundamental reason why the cost have higher education has to grow two and three times as fast as inflation, as it has over the last several decades.  So as a few universities start granting degrees for online education many will take advantage of the cheaper product.  Because online education scales so easily, many students will switch to universities like Georgia Tech.  This will be a great benefit for the students as they will be able to graduate without a suffocating debt.  And more students will be able to get an education with a cheaper price.  It does mean that some of the unviersities existing today will go the way of factories who depended on water wheels.

Hat tip: Instapundit

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