How would you like a masters degree from a prestigious university for $6,600 instead of the usual $45,000? Most people would ask, “What’s the catch?” The catch, if you can call it that, is that the degree in question will be the first ever taught entirely online via the MOOC (massive open online course) model by Georgia Tech.
Until now MOOCs were a growing but somewhat questionable trend in terms of the ability to use them to get an actual degree. They were, and are, good for people who want to take a class (since most are free) but couldn’t get to a college physically. There are even a few programs starting to offer certificates. But the idea of getting a real degree from a real college strictly online using MOOCs has pretty much been a pipe dream until now. This is not to be confused with existing distance learning systems and programs which have tuition rates pretty much on par with on-campus degrees.
Part of the reason is economic. Colleges, with their massive tuition costs don’t want to do anything to undermine their main revenue stream. There has also been a general mistrust of MOOCs since, in many cases, the failure rate or non-completion rate is pretty significant at present.
In this case, Georgia Tech is working on the technology so that there is much more human oversight, interaction, and control. It will be very interesting to see if this course works and further, how employers will view and/or hire graduates. But on price alone, this program and others like it will have a definite effect on the cost and availability of college in the future.
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Image courtesy of blog.commarts.wisc.edu.