Monday, October 20, 2014


Geek Chic

eLearning an emerging option for higher education

4/3/2013

The Internet has taken a proverbial wrecking ball to countless industries: recording, publishing, newspaper, brick-and-mortar retail and so many more. At times it seems like no field is safe. So what is the most likely candidate to be reduced to rubble next? Higher Education.

This is truly the information age, with almost everything you could possibly want to learn available online — in many cases for free. For instance, the most popular videos on YouTube are actually “How-To” tutorials. There are entire networks on the site devoted to teaching viewers everything from fixing a flat tire to calculating the mass of a gas giant planet.

By itself, YouTube isn’t upsetting the Higher Education system. You can’t get a medical degree or graduate from law school on YouTube. Where the collegiate system is slowly starting to feel pressure from the Internet is through “eLearning” websites. These online venues provide skills training without investing years of your life or tens of thousands of dollars.

Practically all fields have an eLearning alternative including business, technology, healthcare, math and science, communications, engineering, fine arts and more. Sites such as Khan Academy, Academic Earth, OpenSesame, Lynda.com and others provide low- to no-cost tutorial-based lessons. What might take a semester to learn in a lecture hall could be binge-learned in a week.

Obviously it’s hard to replicate the scientific research opportunities major universities provide, and employers are still overwhelmingly looking for applicants with bachelor degrees. In 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found workers with a bachelor degree or better earned nearly twice as much as those with only a high school diploma. Along with those degrees, however, the average college student graduates with more than $27,000 in student loan debt.

DM Art Center

While the business world is still placing the premium on a degree, 18-year-olds who are uncertain what to do with the rest of their lives should seriously consider testing their interest with eLearning options. What sounds more appealing, a $375 annual premium subscription to Lynda.com or $4,000 for one semester at a state university? CV

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.                 

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