Thursday, April 23, 2015

Step right up

My son Ben asked if had this seen this article. It really feels like the beginning of the end:

Arizona State University, one of the nation’s largest universities, is joining with edX, a nonprofit online venture founded by M.I.T. and Harvard, to offer an online freshman year that will be available worldwide with no admissions process and full university credit. . . .

“Leave your G.P.A., your SATs, your recommendations at home,” said Anant Agarwal, the chief executive of edX. “If you have the will to learn, just bring your Internet connection and yourself, and you can get a year of college credit.”
Yes, step right up.

I am forever loyal to the idea of college — that is, real college, what college can be and still, often, is. But we seem to be moving toward a future in which that possibility becomes, once again, reserved for a privileged few. For everyone else, an Internet connection will suffice. No classmates, no office hours, no libraries. It’s telling that even Mr. Agarwal’s hucksterism acknowledges reality: this scheme offers not a year of college but “a year of college credit.” They’re not the same thing.


May 3: Oh — and there’s no financial aid.

A related post
Higher-ed monopoly

[Title courtesy of Tom Waits.]

comments: 3

Elaine Fine said...

Do you think that MIT or Harvard would accept those credits?

Anonymous said...

It becomes a phenomenon of simple arithmetic. There is a point at which tuition costs exceed the ability to pay up front (now long past for many), and then tuition costs which exceed the ability to be financed (now occurring). With the massive debt having been piled up, new students in many disciplines are finding that the cost of their possible degree exceed their earning capacity with said degree. Where then do universities look for the next bunch of "college credit consumers?" On line, of course (pardon the pun). One could even foresee something like kickstarter campaigns aimed at raising tuition funds for someone. With education budgets and costs coming ever more into crisis (such as the recent news of the Chicago Public Schools and its billion dollar budget shortfall), the marketing of education to the consumer is trying to follow the Amazon model. Maybe we'll see degrees delivered by drones next?

Michael Leddy said...

Elaine, that’s the $64,000 question, so to speak.

Anon., I’m aware of at least one Kickstarter-like effort to raise tuition. Yes, the cost of college is far too high. The wider access to college (real college) that followed WWII now begins to look like an odd blip in our cultural history.