There are forces in motion that could turn the tide against the secular left, and one of them is online education.
A bill in California’s Legislature would force public colleges to award students credit for taking some outside online courses. It looks likely to pass, and its implications for higher education are vast.
A successful monopoly has an impregnable wall around some much-desired good, such as education, and controls the only door.
The higher education establishment in America has always operated this way. But cracks are starting to appear in its wall. A significant one opened this week.
On Wednesday, a bill was introduced in California’s state Senate to require public colleges to give students credit for online courses from outside providers.
If students can’t take an introductory or remedial class in the traditional way, they can turn to offerings from businesses such as Coursera, Udacity and StraighterLine, or the nonprofit EdX, a joint project of Harvard and MIT.
The bill looks likely to pass in some form.
[...]For the first time, colleges would have to offer credit for courses outside the academic establishment. As StraighterLine founder Burck Smith told the New York Times, “This would be a big change, acknowledging that colleges aren’t the only ones who can offer college courses.”
Up to now, online teaching could offer plenty of knowledge but not the credits leading to degrees.
Colleges could refuse to recognize the courses, and most did. That balance of power would shift if Steinberg’s bill becomes law.
That would be the start of real competition.
If online courses can teach more students just as well and cost the public less, the professors behind the walls will have to change their hidebound ways or lose more business to outsiders.
Either way, the public would be well served.
The faster we can disrupt the current higher education monopoly and focus students back on getting marketable skills at a reasonable price, the better off we’ll be. The financial crisis actually helps with this, because young people now have to be more serious about what they are choosing to study and how much they are paying to study. We have a chance here to turn the tide. It’s good news!