Thomas Friedman wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times about a new online education company called Coursera, which will be offering online courses from a wide variety of Universities across the country. This is an important new trend in education and hopefully one that will help to equalize education opportunity in this country.
I wrote a blog piece earlier this year about the free MIT and Harvard online courses being offered through MITx. For the most part, the MITx courses will not offer a degree or certificate upon completion. The Coursera program appears to offer a little more, including certificates of completion and the option of linking students to potential job openings.
While I see a lot of potential in this new model, a brilliant fellow blogger Hugh, who was a philosophy professor for decades, commented on my blog post. He noted that a large part of an education comes from the interaction between students and their professor, and between students.
Hugh has a great point. We discussed that perhaps a hybrid model could be created with a mix of online and in-person learning. When an online program is offering courses for less than $100 a course and many institutions are currently charging about $40,000 per year, what is the true value of that face time with a professor and classmates?
What do you think? Do you think that schools will be able to continue to charge the exorbitant rates that they are charging now when faced with this new type of competition? Do you think that this type of online learning will take off in the United States? Do you have other ideas to make access to high quality education more affordable?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.