For decades, the cost of higher education in the United States has steadily increased (an average increase of 16 percent every 5 years for the past four decades), and the average college graduate entered the workforce with about US$37,000 in student loans in 2016. Several emerging changes in the education industry hold the promise of bringing those costs down. Information systems are at the core of these exciting developments.
One way education is changing is through globalization. Universities increasingly partner with other universities around the world, encouraging collaboration among researchers, consistency in curriculum design, and cross-border movement of students, graduates, and faculty. Many countries outside of the United States and other Western countries are investing heavily in their education systems, and there are now many universities in less developed parts of the world that can compete with the best of the â€œold-schoolâ€ Ivy League universities. The global economy has produced an equally global education system.
Along with the trend of globalization, many universities are extending their reach by implementing online courses or, in many cases, whole degrees that can be obtained via remote, self-directed courses delivered over the Internet. These programs are typically far less expensive to administer because once the materials are produced and refined, they can be used repeatedly by large groups of (paying) students. Some argue that such courses are less engaging and/or less effective, and there may be some truth to that. Regardless, universities continue to forge ahead in finding new ways to reach more students.
Another recent trend in education is the proliferation of socalled massively open online courses (MOOCs). These courses, which are freely available to the public, are able to effectively reach millions of students. Some very prestigious schools participate in providing these free courses, including Stanford, Wharton School of Business, UC Berkley, MIT, and Harvard. While the course content is provided free of charge, many of these institutions generate revenue by charging students for certifications or tutoring services.
Clearly, higher education is changing rapidly and in very significant ways, and technology has enabled each of these changes.
1. Are online courses better or worse as compared with traditional, face-to-face courses? Why?
2. In what ways could technology be used to improve on the deficiencies of online courses?