The Truth Is (Almost) Free

UniversitiesIn recent years, the cost of higher education in America has skyrocketed. The truth that students of all ages was seeking seemed out of reach for many Americans. Now that truth can be learned for a sum that ranges from free to almost free.

American higher education is being revolutionized by technology. Long-distance learning is no longer considered invalid. Institutions of higher learning, such as MIT, Stanford, Duke and the University of Virginia are offering online classes for the masses.

Liberty University, a school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, has seen an explosion of growth in recent years. They now have 57,371: 12,371 on campus and 45,000 online. Jerry Falwell’s vision  of building “the greatest Christian school in the world” is being achieved over the Internet.

According to Wikipedia, the University of Phoenix-Online has over 413,000 registered students, studying at over 200 locations and online.

The newest innovation was put together by a consortium of 33 universities to offer online classes for free. The courses range from a 15-week course on The Modern World: Global History since 1760 presented by Philip Zelikow of the University of Virginia to a 10-week course on Fundamentals of Human Nutrition by Kristina von Castel-Roberts, Ph.D. of the University of Florida. In fact Doctor Zelikow’s course was so popular that the initial term had a registration approaching 60,000 students!

At the University of Virginia, the president of the school almost lost her job this past summer because of her unwillingness to move into the 21st century. Members of the Board of Visitors forced her into resigning because of a variety of disputes between them.

She was later reinstated because of a faculty revolt but most of the Board is still in place. They see online education as a way to break the monopoly on expensive education. They have looked down the road at Liberty University and watched the relentless expansion of the Lynchburg school.

Coursera has a rival consortium named edX, that includes Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and the University of Texas System. This group has a similar number and type of courses that Coursera offers.

Online education in America is not a new concept. People have been taking tele-classes for some time now but the increasing Internet connectivity of the country is making it easier to partake in the offerings.

Some students receive online degrees that are as valid as any received in an on-campus environment. People can work at an advanced degree without leaving their job. Online MBA degrees are among the most popular. Averett University offers hybrid programs that include a combination of online class work and on-campus lectures.

The new way of American education has made the truth free or almost free. Rather than forcing students into a straight-jacket of their choosing, universities are beginning to learn a valuable lesson: if you create a better learning environment, they will come.

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