The Internet has been transforming any industry that is information based. While industries have fought against it, the transformation is still happening. While higher education has been amazingly resilient to change over the last 100 years, I don’t believe it can resist this.
I saw this last week on Hack Education. (great site btw)
California Governor Jerry Brown, San Jose State University President Mo Qayoumi, and Udacity co-founder and CEO Sebastian Thrun held a press conference this morning to announce a pilot program that marks a first for the state: San Jose State will award college credits for special versions of select Udacity classes.
The economics of college have been relying on large and steady tuition increases for decades now. Even so, tuition can’t keep rising this quickly forever. It looks like it may have reached a limit of sorts as some colleges have announces tuition freezes this year. If the business model of a college doesn’t work anymore, you have to change it. You either start trimming overhead (facilities and admin), you start trimming staff (faculty and classes), or you greatly expand your customer base. The only way to do the last one is online.
Mark my words, here’s how this is going to go down.
- Now that public universities are awarding credits for MOOCs, (and therefore oursourcing teaching) more and more schools will do the same thing.
- They can go from a 200 person English Comp 101 class to a online version shared with lots of other schools. This online class can be taught by a renown professor thus giving more stature to the school (which previously offered the class with a Adjunct).
- The administration will then use this as leverage to renegotiate their relationship (to their advantage) with the tenured faculty.
- It will become very common for on campus students to take a lot of their classes online in just a few years. Could we be heading for a future where students live on a campus, go to parties, have advisors, use the library, etc… but never go to a physical class?
In the end we will have a life long learning system but the process will involve pain as the current system is dismantled and disaggregated.