Brick and Mortar is just Too Expensive

Zephyr Teachout argues that private colleges will drastically shrink in the next 10 years because of the proliferation and ease of online education. He predicts they will follow a similar trajectory of the newspaper business. It is a fascinating read (as are the comments).

As I write this a radio advertisment appears in my pandora tab: “Earn my degree dot com promises to match your educational goals with your personal goals.”

Zephyr might have a point.

This debate – whether students can get a real education online – is finally being taken seriously. Finance and convenience are the central reasons why people enter the discussion.

Take my situation as an example. I needed to obtain a masters degree. Once completed, my teacher contract specifies that I get a $2000 a year raise in my salary.

Some of the best programs in the area I wanted to study (educational technology) cost $30,000-$35,000 (and that’s not mentioning travel time, etc.). 15-18 years to recuperate my costs? That’s not a good investment. No thank you. I’ll shop around.

And find the best offering – that’s still legitamate and acredited – for my goals.

Now, add gobs of other students (undergrad and grad) into the same equation and you’re going to get some capitalistic pressures on the business structure of acadamia.

It’s not that brick and mortar have nothing to offer when in comparison. They certainly do.  I value face time, physical interaction with classmates and professor, not to mention the thrill of visiting university libraries. Plus, it’s easier to build relationships when you’re in the presence of another human (at least for my generation…not 100% sure about the younger gens).

But we are consumers. It seems that college costs have always outpaced inflation. Sooner (rather than later), the masses are going to ask “is it worth it?”

Implications for Online Learning at the secondary level?

Are we next?

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