Sunday, December 23, 2012

Free Courses And The Future of Higher Ed

FLG's best guess at the moment is that education is going to break down rather biomodally.  There will be online universities that will offer decent and affordable education geared toward studying the "scientific, commercial, and industrial rather than literary," to borrow Tocqueville's phrase.  While there might be a large number of these online schools, but FLG reckons, just from the economies of scale, that it will settle out to a small number enrolling the majority of students.  Some might be private, some public. 

On the other hand, FLG believes there will always be a market for an exclusive residential college experience; however, he's not sure how much of a market there will be.  The Ivies, Stanford, MIT, and Cal Tech will survive to provide this.  If FLG had to guess, there'll be enough people willing to pay for that experience to keep the somewhere in the top 50, maybe top 100 schools in the residential college business.  

FLG is interested in how the public schools will play out.  Good flagship state universities, like Michigan, Virgina, Berkeley, ULCA, Texas, and Wisconsin are well-placed to be dominant in the large, online university marketplace.  However, FLG sees a lot of the students who attend non-flagship universities being consolidated into either a state or regional online university.   The first to switch over will be the commuter students, but eventually most students will probably attend online.  To take FLG's current state, Virgina, as an example, UVA and William & Mary will probably be able to remain residential.  FLG doubts that George Mason, James Madison, and even Virginia Tech will be offering a residential college experience two decades from now.

But who knows?  The future of higher ed is probably about as up in the air at this point as anything.

In case you were wondering what got FLG thinking about this, well, he registered for two free online courses from Coursera and Edx, respectively - Financial Engineering and Risk Management and The Ancient Greek Hero.


arethusa said...

Do please post reviews when you're done with the courses? I am much more skeptical of online courses; what they'll really provide is a college degree at a decent price - not necessarily an education.

Miss Self-Important said...

Nagy! I took a class with him. Extremely nice, believes all Greek writing is commentary on Homer. This course used to be referred to as "Heroes for Zeros," though I think this moniker has been forgotten.

FLG said...


Well, it's an massive open online class, so I'll have zero actual interaction with him. Thus, the moniker does fit.

Anonymous said...

Online education can never match the personal experience at Berkeley! dave.s.(proud Berkeley alum,yah you betcha)

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