Among the voices raised in panic at growing educational costs that threatens to price half the country out of a university education, there remains at least one that’s calm and optimistic. Vance H. Fried, who wrote a paper outlining how by the year 2020 colleges could run entire residential programs all without charging a lot more than $8,000 in tuition, sees hope.
Fried is way from a crank. He’s a professor of entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University and his newest paper C College 2020 C is simply the latest salvo in a fight to convince people that matter that attending college need not be ruinously expense.
He feels that the further education system in this country is ossified due the fact that it has not had to endure any kind of competitive pressure in decades. Such competitive pressure has now come, he believes, by means of online education.
Some commentators worry that tuition-dependent colleges will need to go out of business simply because they can\’t control their costs and low-priced suppliers are going to take away their students. But Fried thinks that universites and colleges can survive, if they act soon.
Education will end up \”radically cheaper in phases,\” says Fried, which means that \”existing colleges and universities will need to change or risk losing large numbers of students.\”
Those colleges and universities can survive because many people want \”the college experience\”-that is, living on campus, making friends, interacting personally with professors, and enjoying campus activities such as football games.
The real start working the pants to colleges won’t be the stupendously popular massive online open courses. Instead, it is the excitement over MOOCs that’s obscuring the actual agents of change C the adoption of online education that actually works in tandem with the traditional means of delivering knowledge. He calls this Online version 1.3.
Technology now is improving on these functions, beginning to create what Fried calls Online 2.0. Not just are these courses filled with varied content, they\’re adaptive-that is, they can test a student while he or she is working and, depending on the student\’s responses, provide customized material to boost learning. This enables the student to understand the fundamentals before moving to higher-level work.
This adaptive technology opens up vast possibilities, including a curriculum with different \”coordinated set of competencies\” as opposed to a \”hodge-podge of courses,\” says Fried.
This approach is best seen in College for America, a course that’s part of the University Southern New Hampshire. In a move which has just received the approval from the USDOE, it plans to eliminate credits for courses and replace them with competencies that each student must master before they\’re awarded an associates and finally a bachelor’s degree.