The Future of College Education

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Having taken courses for my Masters at major universities and also courses from Coursera, and a few others, you can’t help but note that there is a huge disruption of education afoot.

Those teaching courses on Coursera, and other online free courses, are from well-known universities such as Wharton and Stanford. The world is free to explore courses from top-notch educational institutes that were once not even possible except for the top percentage of students. College is ripe for complete disruption.

So, what might happen? Colleges might for as long as they can offer the same degree programs online as they do on-campus–and some others they may have not offered. Or, do something that has been seemingly impossible, just offer the courses across a site like Coursera and compete for students. Coursera could issue a Master’s degree providing you follow the programs. The beauty is that you could learn Java from Penn and Operating Systems from MIT. Revenue for the elite schools might look great now because they can charge a premium but the more disruption the more likely they will lose to more competitive open colleges.

The model would look like this:

  • You take course online at college co-op like Coursera. They provide you with a program list that you take to earn your degree.
  • You’d pay for a course and schools could potentially make far more than they could with only their current students alone. Instead of a few hundred, if that, for some courses, they could have 10,000 students taking a beginners course in Java to start their Computer Science degree. Imagine how many students need Psychology for a vast majority of different degrees.
  • You could do something as a hybrid. Go to a physical campus but pick up some of your other courses online–again, see the above example of psychology. The opportunity for a small college to teach psychology to thousands of students at once would change the face of education and their revenue model.
  • So what kind of degree would you get? A Coursera Masters? Maybe, or maybe a school like MIT says you must take at least X amount of MIT courses and the rest can come from the co-op schools and you get an MIT degree, or maybe its the University of Kansas or University of Vermont. The beauty is that you could end up with courses and credits that align and end up with multiple degrees from different schools.

Educators can either look at this as the end of traditional school or a pivot to something new. The opportunity to make society far more educated than ever is upon us. The good news for consumers is that competition will only make it easier and education better.

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