Tuesday, October 6

Tuition-free online colleges

The rise of tuition-free online colleges ~ link

University of the People ~ link

• "Yale Law School researchers will team up with a tuition-free online university to study how online higher education is perceived worldwide and document what it takes for internet-based institutions to achieve accreditation." ~ link

• I think that the tuition-free online concept will eventually fly -- although it will not replace brick and mortar campuses. The fact is that it will not be possible to teach all subjects to all students using this method. The tuition-free online college will just be one more option that will make some education accessible to motivated students.

Essentially, the online college will provide the framework for study (peer-to-peer learning), some lecture/presentation content, and validation of learning (tests). I suspect it will also give rise to an additional "sub-industry" of private/independent tutors to help students who can't make it on their own through the system.

The tuition-free schools will be challenged to continually provide fresh and up-to-date "classroom" content without the tuition income. They will also have some expense related to library resources -- even if those are online resources.

Universities and colleges have also been research centers in our society. The idea is that students learn by participating in the professor's research. That will be hard to replicate in tuition-free on-line schools. As I mentioned, these online schools should not be seen as replacing traditional schools but as an additional educational option for some subjects and some students. Some traditional schools may even embrace the concept (especially those receiving public funding -- and thus under legislative pressure) and create hybrids.

• Those of us who work in theological education are eager to figure out ways to make a tuition-free online seminary education available. There are already some free online options -- although none measure-up, yet. That will be a post tomorrow or the next day.
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