Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This is big news

Anyone that has followed higher education in the US knows that change in this industry typically occurs at a glacial pace.  However, I've been enthusiastically following the way companies like Udacity, Udemy, Coursera and edX.  I've said for some time that I think within 5 years we could see our first major universities offering fully online, accredited degrees for a fraction of the cost of the online experience.

Udacity took a baby step in that direction a couple of months ago with their announced partnership with San Jose State to offer accredited courses this summer for $150/course.

However, today Udacity moved a couple of light years forward in the evolution of online higher education. 

"The Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing (Georgia Tech) announced today that it will offer the first professional Online Master of Science degree in computer science (OMS CS) that can be earned completely through the “massive online” format. The degree will be provided in collaboration with online education leader Udacity Inc. and AT&T.
 
All OMS CS course content will be delivered via the massive open online course (MOOC) format, with enhanced support services for students enrolled in the degree program. Those students also will pay a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus master’s programs; total tuition for the program is initially expected to be below $7,000. A pilot program, partly supported by a generous gift from AT&T, will begin in the next academic year. Initial enrollment will be limited to a few hundred students recruited from AT&T and Georgia Tech corporate affiliates."
 
This hits on 3 major trends I see coming to higher education:
 
1) Online, accredited classes
2) Drastically lower costs
3) Partnering with corporations to deliver talented individuals with real skills.
 
The rate of change in this industry is really shocking to me.  I think it's possible that by 2020, a significant portion of our students could be taking online accredited courses from real universities.
 
There will be some bumps along the way, but this is very good news for the US.

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