The Future Of Affordable Higher Education: Online Courses
January 8, 2013

Online courses have been on the radar screen for quite some time now as a possible affordable alternative to traditional college. However, MOOCs have yet to reach the point at which in-class education has become unnecessary. Instead, like every innovation, they’ve continued to make steady, progressive improvements. With that in mind, it’s starting to look like we might be approaching a point where next-gen college could take over. It’s partly because traditional higher education is so unaffordable, and the accompanying student loans are forcing students to question the value of college, but it’s also because online programs are making great strides.

What’s So Great About MOOCs?

One of the top programs currently offering an online curriculum is Coursera. Coursera offers hundreds of courses, taught by professors currently working at a whole slew of colleges and universities. Courses are completely free and are offered in the humanities, maths, sciences, you name it. One complaint about online courses is the lack of human interaction. But we do so much through our computers anyway, is it really a surprise that innovators are figuring out ways to make online courses as interactive as they need to be in order to promote learning and retention? These classes are so highly appraised that some schools are allowing them to be used as the lecture portion of their traditional courses.

Show Me The Money

There’s a concern that some of the best online course options, like Coursera and Udemy (a paid service), have yet to find a financial model that makes them profitable. However, the programs’ creators and investors are unconcerned at this point. They feel that the model will grow to become profitable. One way has already been mentioned above: with traditional institutions taking an interest in these online courses and allowing them to be used as the lecture portion of on-campus classes come royalties to the online course carriers.

This sounds not only like a financially viable solution for the online course providers but a great compromise for students. It brings to mind some programs coming out of Texas, which offer a patchwork approach to college in order to offer an affordable degree. Students would get some interaction as well as a lecture potion for a lesser expense than a course taught completely on campus.


To think that technology wouldn’t eventually catch up to education crises is unrealistic. For instance, one problem with the human population spending so much time glued to a monitor, instead of interacting out in the world, is health. The Internet has solutions to that too: you can find blogs teaching you tasty ways to eat right and prevent diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and helping you to live longer and healthier. Coursera itself offers a class called Fundamentals of Human Nutrition that is starting in just a couple of weeks. Also, one huge hurdle that stands in the way of borrowers repaying their student loans is a lack of ability to deal with personal finance, but Coursera has an answer for that too: Fundamentals of Personal Finance Planning (for free, of course) starts on January 14th. For more assistance managing your student debt, you can look online to find student debt experts equipped help you manage your debt.