In recent ed-tech news, an educational technology company, 2U Inc., is buying web-based course provider edX. When I read the article, I could not believe that in the years since edX started, that edX would be bought out for $800 million. As an ed-tech specialist and scholar, the news brings joy and, at the same time, worries about the future of higher education. Does it make sense for a college student to graduate with thousands of students loans to end up at the same job they had while in college? Or better to take a few courses on sites like edX and Coursera to learn a trade, get accredited, and get a decent job for a fraction of the cost. Let me give you three reasons why higher education institutions need to be more like open education platforms such as EdX and Coursera.
According to U.S. News, higher education cost has jumped 212%, and that's just for in-state tuition and fees at public universities. If I am an 18-year-old student who doesn’t want to get into financial debt with student loans earning a specialization via Coursera may be a better choice.
The recent U.S. Supreme Court case rejecting the student loan bankruptcy case makes a stronger case of why students need to look at other education venues instead of the traditional higher education institutions. Why pay $40,000 plus a year at a traditional private university when you can pay $1,344.60 for a MicroBachelors Progam in Cybersecurity Fundamentals via edX that includes nine courses. Why not go the route of online massive open online course (MOOC) providers such as edX and Coursera?
The 2020 COVID pandemic changed the world forever and education as well. The pandemic has provided an outlet for the rise of online education and much-needed access to training and education material. People are always on the go and need access to content 24/7. If I can access, my Netflix shows 24/7, why can't I have instant access to my education? Edx and Coursera provide access to educational content at a self-paced level, meaning that I can log in and out to access the content at my disposal as a student.
In higher education, you have to wait for the professor to provide the verbal content unless you are taking an asynchronous course. People want easy, fast, and 24/7 access to material and MOOCproviders such as edX and Coursera provide 24/7 access.
When I was an undergraduate, to get a trial of a course, I had to register for the course and attend the first day to know if I would like the course. If I did not enjoy the course, I had to scramble and pray that there was still a course available. MOOC provides anyone with free access to the course, and if they don’t like the course, you don’t have to rush and find a new course.
Higher education institutions don’t have the luxury of offering a free trial of a course for credit towards a degree because of costs, logistics, and capacity. However, wouldn’t it be great if universities provided a small sample of the course beyond the course description? We live in the Netflix era, where learners expect a free trial version or trailer video of the course.
MOOCs provide low-cost, full access with a free trial version of education content. How will traditional higher education institutions do the same for the Instant Access Generation?
Learning Technology Specialist