Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Quiet Revolution in Higher Education

The college system in the USA is astonishingly large: 18.5 million college students are enrolled in 2,421 four-year institutions. Those Americans with a 4 year bachelor’s degree is at an all-time high today. This means these students will earn a lifetime income substantially higher than those not having taken advantage of the American college education system.

But the very existence of the college educational system is at risk due to the massive open online course, or MOOC, offered by the giants of education such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT. In a recent essay, Clay Shirky compared today's colleges and MOOCs to record companies and Napster. Like the record companies of old, they provide a commodity that is  inconvenient and local that could be better provided to the comfort of your home over the internet. Learn More about the advantages. While I cannot agree with the essay in its entirety, but Shirky is correct in pointing out that the college industry is actually comprised of several diverse markets. each of these markets will be affected in different ways, but they will all be affected.

American higher education is undergoing a revolution. Online education will continue to take an ever growing chunk of the college market. The traditional college classroom will be forced to compete. In the end, the student will benefit when the traditional college is forced to compete.

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