There is no question that the internet has become a vital part of our modern society, yet this is a technology whose effects we have only recently begun to see. From lighting-fast communication to blockchain technology, there is no sector of industry that hasn’t been affected by the Internet in one way or another. One major industry that could possibly experience great change is education.
The rise in popularity of massive open online course providers (MOOC), such as EdX and Coursera, could have a prominent impact on how education is provided in the near future. University tuition has skyrocketed in the US since the 1980s by 260% according to the National Center for Education Statistics, while Consumer Price Index increased by only 160%. There is a huge demand for university-level education which is hindered by large tuition costs and limited seats. MOOC courses being entirely online has the huge advantage of being able to provide education cheaply to a much larger audience. Anyone with an internet connection and a computer can easily enroll in a course or even pursue a degree.
Coursera: one of the largest e-learning providers
Unfortunately, although some courses provided by MOOCs are accredited and universities have been accredited to provide full online degrees, there is still a question of whether any of these courses and degrees have any worth when compared to a brick and mortar university degree. Personal attention from tutors and small seminar groups are considered a vital part of any degree, a component online alternatives lack. This does not mean that MOOC education holds no sway though, as there are many courses that offer high school credit and some even offering credits towards completing a degree. EdX has “Micro Masters” degrees that can be used to purse an accelerated Masters degree at any university, and the Global Freshman Academy collaboration of EdX and The Arizona State University is offering courses that provide freshman year credit.
If MOOCs can overcome the hurdles facing them, we could potentially see the education system drastically overhauled around the world. With advances in technology such as VR, MOOCs can simulate the brick and mortar experience and provide the hands on experience offered by traditional establishments. There would be little reason for education to be as expensive as it is today. It might as well be free.
List of Notable MOOC providers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course
National Center for Education Statistics. Average Undergraduate tuition and fees:
Consumer Price Index: https://www.businessinsider.com/this-chart-shows-how-quickly-co
BBC news article on The University of the People: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27117597
Global Freshman Academy: https://www.edx.org/gfa
Sameer Harbi is the manager of a one-man indie game studio. He and his studio can be reached at https://byteforgestudio.wordpress.com.