Rhode Island Monthly Higher Learning 2014 : Page 9

T he biggest change to education in the last decade has clearly been the emergence of online courses and degrees. From free online classes to bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. programs, the web has become a vehicle that is changing the way we think about learning. Higher education pundits debate what college will look like in 2050. Will brick and mortar institutions of higher education cease to exist? Will an online degree be viewed in the same manner as a campus-based degree? And, finally, how will this affect the cost of higher education? These are all unknowns, but what is certain is that the higher education landscape is changing rapidly. In the midst of these emerging technologies, it’s difficult to understand the value of different offerings and to avoid scams. Here are a few things you need to know if you are considering online education. entrepreneurship or Mandarin Chinese. Until recently, however, degrees have not been part of the MOOC mission. The goal has been purely to open up the best courses in the world to all learners, regardless of location or ability to pay. Then, earlier this year, top-ten engineering school Georgia Tech announced that it would offer free graduate courses online through its MOOC with an option to earn a master’s in computer science over three years for around $7,000. With most two-year master’s degree programs ranging in cost between $80,000 and $120,000, this may indeed revolutionize the industry and affect price tags for brick and mortar degrees in the future. The other big question that remains is whether businesses will begin to recognize candidates who have piloted their own education through MOOCs without ever getting a degree. Perhaps the sexiest part of online education has been the growth of massive online open courses, or MOOCs. The New York Times dubbed 2012 “The Year of the MOOC” as edX brought together Harvard and MIT to offer free online courses, and Coursera hit the market with thirty-three elite university partners, including Duke, Brown, Columbia and Princeton. While the initial impetus of MOOCs was to reach an estimated 2 billion learners, 70 percent of whom do not have access to education, in reality an estimated 80 percent of MOOC users already have a bachelor’s degree. For the most part, MOOCs have provided free access to courses taught by professors who are at the top of their field. Anyone can sign on and take a course in linear algebra, Renaissance architecture, Free education: Moocs While MOOCs garner most of the press attention because of their prestigious Ivy League professors and free access, many well respected state universities have been providing online education and degrees for more than a decade. Big name state schools, like the University of Illinois and Arizona State, grant four year degrees 100 percent online. Private colleges, including Duquesne, De Paul and the University of Denver, also have 100 percent online undergraduate programs. In a recent survey, U.S. News and World Report ranked online undergraduate programs. Two New York City colleges — Pace and St. John’s — garnered the first and third slots, respectively. Costs vary widely from around $200 to more than $1,000 per credit hour. In most cases federal aid is traditional colleges online start your new GET HANDS-ON TRAINING YOU NEED T O SUCCEED IN: career in beauty :: Providence :: Warwick TW O CONVENIEN T LOCATIONS IN RHODE ISLAND: :: Hair Styling :: Salon Management facebook.com/EmpireBeautySchool 1-800-260-5881 www.empire.edu Call now for a no-cost, no-obligation tour! Financial Aid available to those who qualify. RHODE ISL AND MONTHLY I HIGHER LE ARNING I 2014 9

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