“Within the next 10 years it will be possible to do a full degree from your sofa or in a café.” This is according to the founder of an online university network.
Professor Daphne Koller is chief executive of Coursera, an Internet platform with around 20 million students studying courses from about 145 top universities around the world.
So far, online courses have been short units. However, the next stage for on line learning will be top universities offering full ‘E-degrees’. These courses will be more accessible and cheaper as, in some cases, some are completely free!
As a result of this, more underprivileged people will have the chance to take a course. For example an online course in Python programming is £253 at Coursera whereas at Leeds University it is £2,454. This is a huge difference of £2,201. With the money saved, you would be able to take approximately seven more online courses.
Founded in California four years ago, Coursera has become one of the world’s biggest providers of ‘Massive, Open, Online, Courses’ known as ‘Moocs’.
Another online university in America named EdX is offering a range of online courses. If a student passes eight of these, costing $200 (£150) each, it counts as the equivalent of a first year at university. This is $1,600 (£1,200). This compares with the £9,000 it costs to do a degree in the UK for one year.
These courses are delivered via webcam with group or one-to-one video chat, depending on the course. Others are delivered through a website that integrates forums, instant messenger, e-mail and streaming audio and video.
Moocs will soon be widely available throughout the world. There are also efforts to use online learning to teach refugees, such as those affected by Syria’s civil war.
Moocs could also be useful in countries such as India, which have ambitious targets to expand higher education.
“The authorities will have to use online universities because there isn’t enough bricks-and-mortar institutions,” explains Professor Koller.
What I think
I think that these ‘Moocs’ are an extremely good idea as it can help people in less fortunate countries such as India to get a degree without them having to migrate. I also think that it is a good idea for people with a busy lifestyle, for example a parent, as you can do the course whenever you want and at your own pace. However, I personally wouldn’t choose to do an E-degree, as I would like to experience university and live the ‘student life’.