Tag Archives: Pew Research Center

Can free online universities change the higher education model?

23 Jan

The Pew Research Center has a recent report, Is College Worth It?

Executive Summary

This report is based on findings from a pair of Pew Research Center surveys conducted this spring. One is a telephone survey taken among a nationally representative sample of 2,142 adults ages 18 and older. The other is an online survey, done in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education, among the presidents of 1,055 two-year and four-year private, public and for-profit colleges and universities. (See the our survey methodology for more information.)

Here is a summary of key findings from the full report:

Survey of the General Public

Cost and Value. A majority of Americans (57%) say the higher education system in the United States fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend. An even larger majority (75%) says college is too expensive for most Americans to afford. At the same time, however, an overwhelming majority of college graduates (86%) say that college has been a good investment for them personally.

Monetary Payoff. Adults who graduated from a four-year college believe that, on average, they are earning $20,000 more a year as a result of having gotten that degree. Adults who did not attend college believe that, on average, they are earning $20,000 a year less as a result. These matched estimates by the public are very close to the median gap in annual earnings between a high school and college graduate as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010: $19,550. A more detailed Pew Research Center analysis (see Chapter 5, “The Monetary Value of a College Education,” in the full report for more information) shows that this gap varies by type of degree and field of study.

Student Loans. A record share of students are leaving college with a substantial debt burden, and among those who do, about half (48%) say that paying off that debt made it harder to pay other bills; a quarter say it has made it harder to buy a home (25%); and about a quarter say it has had an impact on their career choices (24%).

Why Not College? Nearly every parent surveyed (94%) says they expect their child to attend college, but even as college enrollments have reached record levels, most young adults in this country still do not attend a four-year college. The main barrier is financial. Among adults ages 18 to 34 who are not in school and do not have a bachelor’s degree, two-thirds say a major reason for not continuing their education is the need to support a family. Also, 57% say they would prefer to work and make money and 48% say they can’t afford to go to college.

Split Views of College Mission. Just under half of the public (47%) says the main purpose of a college education is to teach work-related skills and knowledge, while 39% say it is to help a student grow personally and intellectually; the remainder volunteer that both missions are equally important. College graduates place more emphasis on intellectual growth; those who are not college graduates place more emphasis on career preparation.

For Most College Graduates, Missions Accomplished. Among survey respondents who graduated from a four-year college, 74% say their college education was very useful in helping them grow intellectually, 69% say it was very useful in helping them grow and mature as a person, and 55% say it was very useful in helping them prepare for a job or career.

Above All, Character. While Americans value college, they value character even more. Asked what it takes for a young person to succeed in the world, 61% say a good work ethic is extremely important and 57% say the same about knowing how to get along with people. Just 42% say the same about a college education.

Beckie Supiano and Elyse Ashburn have written With New Lists, Federal Government Moves to Help Consumers and Prod Colleges to Limit Price Increases in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the U.S. Department of Education’s new site about college costs. As college becomes more unaffordable for more and more people, they are looking at alternatives to college.

Jon Marcus reports in the Washington Post article, Online course start-ups offer virtually free college:

An emerging group of entrepreneurs with influential backing is seeking to lower the cost of higher education from as much as tens of thousands of dollars a year to nearly nothing.

These new arrivals are harnessing the Internet to offer online courses, which isn’t new. But their classes are free, or almost free. Most traditional universities have refused to award academic credit for such online studies.

Now the start-ups are discovering a way around that monopoly, by inventing credentials that “graduates” can take directly to employers instead of university degrees.

If I were the universities, I might be a little nervous,” said Alana Harrington, director of Saylor.
org
, a nonprofit organization based in the District. Established by entrepreneur Michael Saylor, it offers 200 free online college courses in 12 majors.

Another nonprofit initiative is Peer-to-Peer University, based in California. Known as P2PU, it offers free online courses and is supported by the Hewlett Foundation and Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox Web browser.

A third is University of the People, also based in California, which offers more than 40 online courses. It charges students a one-time $10 to $50 application fee. Among its backers is the Clinton Global Initiative.

The content these providers supply comes from top universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, Tufts University and the University of Michigan. Those are among about 250 institutions worldwide that have put a collective 15,000 courses online in what has become known as the open-courseware movement.

The universities aim to widen access to course content for prospective students and others. At MIT, a pioneer of open courseware, half of incoming freshmen report that they’ve looked at MIT online courses and a third say it influenced their decision to go there.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/online-course-startups-offer-virtually-free-college/2012/01/09/gIQAEJ6VGQ_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

The New York Times reported about the online education trend in the article, Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/education/25future.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

Many free online colleges are not accredited. As an example, University of the People states this in their catalog:

RECOGNITION

At present, University of the People is not an accredited institution. The University is in the process of preparing the necessary materials to apply for accreditation from an agency recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. At this time no assurances can be given as to when, or if, accreditation might be granted.

University of the People offers the following four degrees: Associate (A.S.) and Bachelor (B.S.) degrees in Computer Science and Associate (A.S.) and Bachelor (B.S.) degrees in Business Administration.

University of the People does not have a pending petition in bankruptcy, is not operating as a debtor in possession, has not filed a petition within the preceding five years, and has not had a petition in bankruptcy filed against it within the preceding five years that resulted in a reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. Sec. 1101 et. seq.).

NOTICE CONCERNING THE TRANSFERABILITY OF CREDITS AND CREDENTIALS EARNED AT OUR INSTITUTION

The transferability of credits you earn at University of the People is at the complete discretion of an institution to which you may seek to transfer. Acceptance of the degree you earn in either the Computer Science or Business Administration program is also at the complete discretion of the institution to which you may seek to transfer. If the credits or degree that you earn at this institution are not accepted at the institution to which you seek to transfer, you may be required to repeat some or all of your course work at that institution. For this reason you should make certain that your attendance at this institution will meet your educational goals. This may include contacting an institution to which you may seek to transfer after attending University of the People to determine if your credits or degree will transfer.

Contact Information

For questions or comments, please contact: info@uopeople.org

http://www.uopeople.org/files/Pdf/university_catalog.pdf

Before signing-up for any course of study, people must investigate the claims of the institution of higher learning regarding graduation rates and placement after completion of the degree. The U.S. Department of Education has an accredidation database and you can always check with the department of education for your state. Back to College has a good explanation of College Accredidation: Frequently Asked Questions

Often these online ventures will offer a certificate or badge to show completion of a course of study. Education Portal defines the difference between a certificate and diploma:

Certificate Overview

A certificate is earned by a student after taking a series of courses relating to a subject. Students often earn certificates to get a step ahead in the professional field of their interest and certificates may be offered in similar programs as degrees. For instance, there are certificates in business, literature and technical programs. In some technical programs, a certificate may be required.

There are also graduate certificates, often taken either alone or alongside a graduate degree program. In some programs, the student may use his or her electives to fulfill a certificate in order to make him or herself more desirable to a potential employer.

Certificate programs taken alone are similar to associate’s degree programs. However, they take less time because core academic programs are not required.

Diploma Overview

Diplomas are similar to certificates but often earned at clinical schools. For instance, a diploma of nursing is offered as an option besides an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. This diploma program is only offered at hospitals with specialty programs that provide training. A diploma often takes two years and involves as much clinical work as classroom.

Degree Overview

An academic degree can be earned at many levels, including associate’s, which takes two years, bachelor’s, which takes four years, master’s, which is two years beyond a bachelor’s degree, and doctoral, which is several years beyond a master’s degree.

A degree program differs from certificates and diploma programs in that it often requires the student to take core courses to support a more rounded education. For instance, at many universities, those earning their bachelor’s degree are required to take English, math, science, philosophy and history. Earning a degree also opens up many more potential doors to the student than would a certificate or diploma. Many careers require that the student has earned at least a bachelor’s degree; several career options require more than this. http://education-portal.com/articles/What_is_the_Difference_Between_a_Certificate_Diploma_and_Degree.html

Some online universities are awarding badges.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy reports in the U.S. News article, Digital Badges Could Significantly Impact Higher Education:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently announced that it was launching a competition that will award $2 million to companies and organizations that can develop workable digital badges and badge systems.

The digital badge concept has gained friends in lofty places. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, NASA administrator Charles Bolden and other high-level business, philanthropic, and technology leaders attended the kick off of the digital badge competition announcement. Duncan, who called the digital badges a “game-changing strategy,” had this to say: “Badges can help engage students in learning, and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate—as well as document and display—their skills.”

Americans could earn badges through skills and knowledge that they get in a variety of ways including informally, through their workplace, open courseware and other online classes, and even traditional colleges.

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-solution/2011/10/04/digital-badges-could-significantly-impact-higher-education

With any education opportunity the prospective student and their family must do their homework and weigh the pros and cons of the institution with with the student’s goals and objectives

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©