The Educational Trend That Could Put an End to Student Loan Debt

Imagine obtaining a college degree from the comfort of your own home, using your own computer or laptop -- without having to actually enroll in the institution that offers the courses. Not only would you be learning from the best minds from schools like Yale and MIT, but the coursework would be offered at minimal cost, or no charge at all.

As college attendees continue to rack up record levels of student loan debt, any innovation that promises to cut college costs is welcome. Thanks to the increasing popularity of Massive Open Online Courses, which offer global audiences course lectures and assignments over the Internet, the above scenario is moving closer to reality.

The evolution of online courses
Online courses are not new, but the idea of MOOCs has only been around for a couple of years. It may seem like the two types of courses would be very similar, but they actually differ quite a lot.

While online courses usually are a dedicated offering at a particular college or university, MOOCs are available to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. As for affordability, online courses at a given school may not be much cheaper than traditional classroom offerings -- because of the need to train faculty, as well as develop the courses themselves. MOOCs, for the most part, cost nothing.

MOOCs are not perfect. Most, for example, are not being offered for credit, which means getting a degree from the experience is nearly impossible. The dropout rate is extremely high, as well; experts estimate that up to 90% of those that sign up for these courses never complete them.

Things are changing -- fast
But MOOCs are quickly becoming the next big thing in higher education, and colleges and universities are jumping on the bandwagon. This semester, Georgetown University is offering a seven-week MOOC that has attracted 20,000 enrollees from all over the world. The University of Wisconsin at Madison rolled out its own MOOC this October, which consists of four pilot courses, with an enrollment of 80,000.

With MOOCs getting a lot more attention, the idea of treating them more as for-credit, matriculating courses is catching on. The University of Maryland is now taking a look at bestowing transfer credit to those who are able to demonstrate a specific level of knowledge after completing a MOOC.

The Georgia Institute of Technology has taken the MOOC concept to the ultimate level, opening the application process earlier this month for the first-ever degree program delivered through the MOOC platform. The Master of Science in Computer Science will be offered for a cost of less than $7,000 -- an absolute bargain, especially when compared to the traditional on-campus price of $45,000.

An education-industry partnership
The speed with which MOOCs are taking off and becoming a true alternative to an on-site college education may be due to the involvement of big business. The Georgia Tech program involves communications giant AT&T, which plans to utilize the program for employee training. The platform is being provided by Udacity, an online education provider, which will share in the MOOC's profits.

Meanwhile, Google has taken an interest in the technology, as well. The company has partnered with university coalition edX in order to create a massive open-source educational platform. The new project, dubbed Open edX, will provide a means for anyone to create and host online courses.

Whether MOOCs become an integral part of higher education remains to be seen, and much will depend upon the success of Georgia Tech's new offering. If the degree program performs well, the model will likely be duplicated very quickly -- good news for students, who will stand a better chance of beginning their working lives free of crippling student loan debt.

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  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2013, at 10:48 AM, bigjacks10 wrote:

    This is basically what they said about mail-order degrees, we all know how that worked out. I have an old saying for you, "You get what you paid for..."

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2013, at 10:49 AM, JHigginsQopolis wrote:

    We will be the first MOOC to be MoMOOC and give students a guarantee on their education also.

    Qopolis University Business School is a new MoMOOC that is a MOOC which is Mobile-optomized. (http://www.Qopolis.com) It was designed to solve two national and international problems.

    SOLUTION #1. Student Tuition Debt. Qopolis will launch this December 15 with classes starting January 1, 2014. The tuition for anyone making less than $150K/yr. is eligible for the "Pay It Forward" (PIF) financial aid program where students pay only for the first semester, $2,497 for the 4-year 120-credit hour Bachelors of Business Development degree. The PIF program will cover all other tuition until the student graduates. The B of BD degree is designed to not only compete with all top level business school, but exceed it, including Harvard Business school in teaching students money management, wealth creation, business development and growth from startup through growth as well as franchising, even internationally. Qopolis will be the first and currently ONLY university that will give students a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Either after the first semester they are satisfied or they get all their tuition back. Also, as crazy as it sounds. Qopolis University will give students all their tuition back if they graduate the program on the fast track schedule. That way, they will have ZERO debt even if they borrowed the money to pay the initial tuition. Students are offered jobs at the university online as well to make money so that they can even be (Debt Negative) before they graduate.

    SOLUTION #2. it was designed to be the job creation engine of the future by making the best business education affordable to anyone anywhere. Over 80% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years due mostly to a lack of business education of the owner. However, small businesses create over 2/3 of all jobs. WIth the best business education available to anyone wanting to start a business, there will be fewer failures and all the jobs created will NOT disappear. They will grow.

    Jimmy Higgins

    CEO/Qopolis University Business School

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2013, at 10:51 AM, bigjacks10 wrote:

    I have another question for you, "How did that online date go?"

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2013, at 5:40 PM, LovelyJohnny wrote:
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