An Open Source Look At Education

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Times are changing and the educational system is dragging its feet in an effort to become more relevant where paradigms have shifted dramatically. I recently read about a group of newly graduated law students who are suing their law school for false advertising. It seems that the school promised high paying jobs and a career upon graduation. Instead, the young legal beagles found them saddled with exorbitant debt from student loans, no jobs in sight and are resigned to living in their parent’s basement for the foreseeable future.

Costly education has always been a barrier to advancement in life for many. For those who could afford it, an education from a prominent institution was a ticket to a better life and an opportunity to achieve significantly greater lifetime income. Up until recently, online education carried with it a reputation as being an inferior education compared to the more tradition form where students matriculated to ivy-covered campuses that were considered the bastion of learning.

However, paying for these institutions has proven to be increasingly expensive to pay for the high overhead. This necessitated higher tuition and fees, greater state and local appropriations, increasing endowment income and federal funding, and, of course, tuition hikes.

Clearly, online education is a more viable way to further affordable education for everyone regardless of their social strata. MIT was an early adapter to the concept of Open Education Resources (OER) which began over a decade ago. The University of Pennsylvania instituted a model that allowed a lecturer with 100 students in the classroom be able to access an additional 40,000 online students simultaneously.

But then the question becomes how the 6,700 public and private intuitions in America absorb the costs of offering a free online education. The above mentioned institutions understand that education is a right that benefits the entire society and have re-allocated resources to accomplish that mission. Of course, Budweiser may have something to say about making campus living a thing of the past.

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