I recently read that my alma mater, a public university, will raise tuition rates by 12% next year. This is just the latest in a string of tuition hikes that have taken place since I earned my undergraduate degree almost 10 years ago.
With jobs at an all-time low, and student aid programs like the Pell Grant under attack from cut-happy politicians, it’s no wonder that high school grads are questioning the ROI of higher education.
Of course, I’m a firm believer that your ability to afford tuition should prevent you from learning, and that a formal degree, while it may be expected, is certainly not required for a successful career.
That’s why I was stunned by recent news that MIT, Stanford, and Princeton, plan to offer many of their top-quality classes in an online format that would be open to anyone around the world, and completely free.
Although students of the free online M.I.T.x program won’t be able to earn an official degree from the prestigious school, those who are able to exhibit a mastery of the subjects taught on the platform will receive an official certificate of completion for what will likely be a nominal fee.
And we’re not just talking about live streams of lectures or online reading material, either.
Students using the program will be able to communicate with their peers through student-to-student discussions, allowing them an opportunity to ask questions or simply brainstorm with others, while also being able to access online laboratories and self-assessments. In the future, students and faculty will be able to control which classes will be available on the system based on their interests, creating a personalized education setting.
What do you think about this initiative to make education more accessible? Is it the next generation of online learning, an option that has long been hailed as the affordable alternative for non-traditional students? Or is it merely a distraction that could prevent future generations from actually pursuing higher education?
Share your thoughts in a comment!
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