It doesn’t cost a fortune either. In fact, it’s often free. The world’s best colleges and universities (along with organizations like The World Bank, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and National Geographic) are offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) as well as interactive online classes. The offerings are available to anyone with Internet access anywhere in the world.
As The Economist tells it, rising costs, changing labour markets, and disruptive technology are conspiring to overthrow higher education as we know it, and the revolution could send colleges and universities down a path previously taken by print newspapers. The success of online education is uncertain. It’s held back, in part, by lack of a formal system of accreditation, although some universities have begun to accept MOOC credits toward their degrees.
“Traditional universities have a few trump cards. As well as teaching, examining, and certification, college education creates social capital. Students learn how to debate, present themselves, make contacts… The answer may be to combine the two… Students could spend an introductory year learning via a MOOC, followed by two years attending university and a final year starting part-time work while finishing their studies online. This sort of blended learning might prove more attractive than a four-year online degree.”
Needless to say, the revolution in education could have significant implications for parents and students who are contemplating the costs of higher education as well as workers who need to develop new skills to find places in the labour force.