Online Learning Alternatives: The Evolution of Higher Education in America

It has been nearly ten years since I started my journey into the American system of higher education.  I remember fondly the moment of truth when I beheld 2 acceptance letters - one in each hand - deciding my fate. 18 years old deciding my fate. Funny. In my right hand a State University of New York (college at a discount) and in my left my beloved U-Mass Amherst Emily Dickinson inspired dream.

I picked the road less expensive and that has made all the difference.

No, but really. Looking back if I could have done one thing differently it would have been to bust my academic higher self and reason with her to levy her qualifications for some scholarships and tuition reimbursement while she was in high school. It was an expensive investment-in-self that peers over my shoulder as I write this saying, 'make it work!'.

And so it is - the leading universities leverage upwards of 150k for a bachelor's degree leading to exorbitant outstanding monies due just 6 months after graduation. For some this has lead to a quandary of finances - others a pursuit of yet another parcel of paper stating an elevation in education status.

There are alternatives, but we won't explore them today. It is the age-old experience vs. education argument. I'll just add this: Forbes reasoned that READING is the best investment to make in your own future writing, 'College costs $150,000, but life changing books can cost $10.' A list of 30 best-read books followed the statement. Among my favorites: Blink – Malcolm Gladwell; The Art of War – Sun Tzu; A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson (Access full article here)

All that aside, the system of higher education is changing and some Ivy League colleges are leading the way with MOOC courses. "Massive open online courses".

Pulled from Newsday: A decade ago, people scoffed at the notion of online classes. Not any more. A lot of smart people at elite institutions are betting on them as the future of education, not just in America, but worldwide.

Massive online classes taught by world-class professors at a minimal cost to students are in their infancy, but could revolutionize study.  We even found a website that brings all the available MOOC classes together to one place.. http://www.class-central.com/

Another local initiative just announced by SUNY Orange brings together online learning and low-cost classes together in one convenient package.  They created a partnership with ed2go making hundreds of non-credit courses available on a diverse range of topics.

Most of ed2go’s online courses run for six weeks, with new classes starting monthly. Students receive two comprehensive lessons each week (for a total of 12) and benefit from dedicated instructors who facilitate every course, pace learners, answer questions, give feedback and facilitate discussions. Courses are project-oriented and include lessons, quizzes, hands-on assignments, discussion areas, supplementary links and more. Students are able to complete any course entirely from a home or office setting, at any time of the day or night.

 

Popular course titles include: Creating Web Pages, Accounting Fundamentals, Speed Spanish, Grant Writing, Medical Terminology and Real Estate Investing. Through well-crafted lessons, as well as expert online instruction and class interaction, students will gain valuable knowledge at their own pace and convenience. The structure of ed2go’s online platform is enhanced by support services that help students achieve academic success.

Most courses cost $99. For more information, contact CAPE at (845) 341-4890 or visit www.sunyorange.edu/ce.

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