The rise of free online college courses

To say that going to college is an expensive process is an understatement. In 2012 America’s total student debt is believed to have exceeded $ 1 trillion. In 2011, the New York Times reported that the average student debt was around $ 26,500 and online college courses aren’t much cheaper. However, the advent of free online college courses, also known as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), could change the face of education forever.

It started as an experiment, but all signs indicate that it will be a huge success as many public universities will be offering MOOCs for anyone who applies in the hopes that many of the participants will pass the course. enroll at the university and pay the normal tuition fees. In a country where degrees in religion and women’s studies from a prestigious university can cost up to $ 100,000, MOOCs could open the world of education to students. Why are universities interested in offering these free trial courses? Many American colleges are heavily indebted and need some way of attracting more students.

Growth of a phenomenon?

The University of Arkansas, the University of Cincinnati, and Arizona State are just three of the prestigious colleges involved in the plan. The growth of MOOCs really accelerated in 2012 as startups like Udacity and edX came to the fore, giving hope to those who previously couldn’t afford education. These courses were founded by professors from top schools like Stanford and Harvard, and millions of people around the world accepted the teachers.

At this point, one wonders if MOOCs can one day replace college degrees. If it were, it would make a huge difference to an incredible number of would-be students. One problem has been that colleges don’t recognize MOOCs, but even that seems to be changing. A number of universities in Austria and Germany are promoting MOOCs, and this could spill over to American educational institutions, as the state of Colorado has made noises that it is following the example of its European counterparts. The University of Washington is also considering this approach, although college students will have to pay a fee and do additional work with a professor at the institution if the plan is implemented.

The future of MOOCs

These free online courses are no longer a novelty and continue to be used as a tool to encourage prospective students to enroll in a university. The University of Texas at Arlington has partnered with Academic Partnerships to provide free Online college courses to aspiring nursing students. To date, more than 80% of those who accepted the free offer have returned and paid for the classroom course. Last but not least, MOOCs give students a chance to try it before buying it, a valuable resource when the courses are so expensive. Free online college courses could pose a threat to traditional education, but if these institutions like the University of Texas find a way to use MOOCs to their advantage, providing something for free could prove very lucrative.

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