OU says its 52 courses have generated more than 50m downloads globally through the app, and are currently running at more than 40,000 new ones a day.
At what point will online degrees and course work from programs like Open University and Stanford and MIT replace a college diploma for some subset of the population? 5 years? 10 years? Would you hire an engineer who had learned to code entirely from online videos or StackOverflow?
These figures will inexorably increase. As a society, we’re beginning to question the value of certain kinds of education and weighing the cost benefit more carefully than ten years ago. As tax revenues decline, I expect many community colleges and state schools whose budgets have been cut to migrate online as a way of meeting their education mandate on lower tax revenues. Of course, professors must adapt: seeking greater wealth, the best professors, will move online to service many more students, much like they have on Megastudy in Korea where some earn salaries in the millions. As a result, more students will be exposed to a higher quality of education than they might have received at a local college, for a fraction of the cost.
The harder challenge for online education is effecting cultural change: it’s the acceptance of online education as an equivalent of an offline education. Today the equivalency challenge is solved through scale. A good analogy is the University of Phoenix which now has a class size nearing 400,000 people. With more than 1M former students in the working world, UoP has one of the largest university alumni networks, which makes finding a job that much easier. This scale breeds familiarity and trust.
With 1M people enrolled in Open University in just three months, the tide is swelling.