Are Free On-Line Resources Undermining Higher Ed’s Business Model?

In case you missed it:  the NY Times recently reported on the efforts of Salman Khan’s Khan Academy to improve education by offering free online materials to schools, colleges and universities.  As the article points out, Khan’s efforts may turn out to be wholly inadequate, but are a harbinger of a dramatic change in the fundamental service delivery model in education (particularly higher education):

[In] education circles, Mr. Khan’s efforts have captured imaginations and spawned imitators. Two Stanford professors have drawn on his model to offer a free online artificial intelligence class. Thirty-four thousand people are now taking the course, and many more have signed up. Stanford Medical School, which allows its students to take lectures online if they want, summoned Mr. Khan to help its faculty spice up their presentations.

And a New York-based luxury real estate company credited Mr. Khan with inspiring its profit-making venture: the Floating University, a set of online courses taught by academic superstars, repackaged and sold to Ivy League colleges and eventually to anyone who wants to pay for them.

That last sentence is the rub:  as “lecture-based” education becomes ubiquitous and cheap, colleges had better be able to demonstrate that what they are offering for the money is something much more effective and compelling.  The full story is here.

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