The founder of a leading online university network in the U.S. says that universities will offer online degree courses within 5 years.
Online learning is not a new idea, but so far most online courses have been short rather than offering full degrees, but Daphne Koller, the Chief Executive of Coursera, believes that is soon to change.
The technology to make it happen already exists, and should universities decide to embrace online degree courses they could also become “more affordable and accessible,” according to Professor Koller.
Delivering courses online rather than in the traditional university setting would cut down costs, potentially meaning that students could gain a degree from a top university without paying as much for their tuition. Some are even saying that a move to online degree courses could even signal the end of traditional university life.
Indeed, Professor Koller believes that the image of the traditional university campus is outdated, as she asserted that most students are not “walking on lawns next to ivy-clad buildings.” She added, “when you have a lecture hall with 300 people, you’re not getting personal interaction.”
Flexible Learning Online
Online degree courses also offer more flexibility when it comes to learning. Rather than having to attend a lecture at a set time, it is entirely possible that the same lecture could be seen online at a time that suits you. This is not only great for those who don’t like getting up in the morning, but is also good news for those who have other responsibilities to take care of alongside their studies – such as work, child-care, or other commitments.
In addition to this, an online course would offer ease of access for those who may not otherwise be able to go to university. In theory, you could get a degree from anywhere in the world without having to leave your home.
Distance Learning In Practice
Of course, there are online degree courses available already, but the difference that Professor Koller foresees is that “respectable universities” will be offering online degrees for the first time. Indeed, there are already steps being made in this direction by FutureLearn, which was created by the Open University.
FutureLearn are teaming up with the University of Leeds to allow students to study course units online and use them towards an undergraduate degree. This is set to begin in the Autumn, with talk already saying that students will see their tuition fees reduced as a result.
The Future – After Online Degree Courses
It seems that those universities that can accept and adapt to this change will stand the best chance of leading the way when it comes to online degree courses. The market for these courses is global and may even help to side-step some of the potential restrictions faced by universities as posed by the recent ‘Brexit’ vote.
It certainly looks as if changes are coming – so it is just a matter of seeing how quickly traditional universities can catch up with them.