Right now, post-secondary education is a very expensive endeavor. Depending on the school, students can end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, making the idea of attending somewhat terrifying. With so much money on the line, and no promise of a tuition decrease in the near future, it is inevitable that students and their parents will start looking into other options for quality education. Sites like Coursera are relatively few right now and most only offer courses, not degrees, but as more people realize that they can take courses from Stanford for free (or at least a fraction of the on-campus cost) on the internet, more and more people are going to choose that route. This means that more sites offering this service will pop up, more universities will offer their courses, and the average cost of a degree will be driven down. It will no longer be necessary to pay $200,000 for a degree, and more people will be able to access higher education.This trend breaks down several other barriers that stop people from attending university beyond the financial ones. People who live far away from a campus or even in different parts of the world can access courses now without having to leave their homes. Technology has advanced to the point where there is internet access even in some of the poor countries of the world. The opportunity to access online education for people in poorer countries is a significant turning point: more education means more knowledge and progress which would contribute to the development and enrichment of the country. Online education also allows people who must work to support themselves and their families to access courses and degrees that they would not otherwise have been able to obtain. A single mother, for example, who must work to keep her family afloat, would be able to access courses online whenever she was available. Working at her own pace, she could obtain a degree and increase the likelihood that she will get a better job and be better able to support her family. A recent survey indicated that nearly 70% of employers thought that an online degree is no less credible than an offline one.Online education also allows for instructors to reach many more students than they would ever be able to in a traditional setting. In one of the first Stanford courses offered by Coursera, more than 100 000 people from all over the world enrolled. It would take several lifetimes for one instructor to reach that many students in an offline setting. Online education allows professors and their knowledge to be much more far-reaching.Online education also provides the opportunity for some innovative types of teaching. This form of education allows students to be engaged in a way that they might not be otherwise. Being in a lecture theatre with three hundred other students is not the best venue for an involved, intellectual discussion, but the chat rooms of online education allow for students to interact with many others, to create small groups, and engage in conversations with students who have different worldviews and knowledge than they do. There are also comprehension quizzes that students must do throughout the lecture, with instant feedback about the correctness of their answers. This encourages students to really pay attention and helps cement the knowledge in their minds faster.Online education also allows schools the opportunity to change the way they funnel their funds. If more courses are offered online, schools can save on facility costs, and save the facilities for other uses, such as demonstrations and conferences. The extra money that they save can then be channeled into the teaching and learning aspects, rather than the buildings, thus increasing the quality of students’ experience.Affordable online education offers students more choices for their degrees than before: on-campus, on-campus/online, and online. Students are able to get their education in a way that best fits them, the way they learn, and the time they have available. Due to this flexibility, lower cost, innovation, and far-reaching access, affordable online education will continue to grow and become more popular.
Will Affordable Online Education Take Over?
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