Our friend Jane Shaw of the Pope Center wrote an exceptional essay about how online education is lurking in the background, waiting for its moment to revolutionize college education as we now know it. The full piece is worth reading, but here are a few excerpts.
Facing such resistance, online education is more likely to grow stealthily, perhaps below the radar of most colleges and perhaps over a long time.
Rather, online teaching is going to make inroads in ways that no one fully notices now or can predict for the future. Unconventional students, from homeschoolers to housewives, are already using it. And while everyone notices the big for-profits, lurking in the sidelines are companies like Straighterline.com, which started to offer courses much more cheaply than the University of Phoenix but couldn’t get accreditation. Straighterline is working with accredited universities now, but it is undoubtedly poised to sell directly to consumers if the situation is right.
I’m not ready to make predictions, but I see a lot of behind-the-scenes entrepreneurial activity by both producers and consumers in the education field. The great universities of this country should be on their guard, lest they become the RCAs and DECs of 2020.