Digital learning: VIRTUAL FEAR GRIPS University education system
: " . . . In 2012, new ‘universities’ — or companies — offering higher education sprouted up in the United States and they have enrolled more students than the Ivy League universities. According to the MIT Technology Review, MOOC sign-ups exceeded 70,000 new students a week, “the equivalent of four or five Stanfords”, it says. Names such as Coursera, a social entrepreneurship company partnering top universities including Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Brown, Johns Hopkins and several other prestigious institutions, reported 1.5 million sign-ups as on October 2012. “Today, Coursera has three million global users and it has tied up with 33 leading universities around the globe,” points out Mitra. There are several others that have cropped up in recent times including EdX and Udacity, which are now threatening to disrupt the existing higher education model. A Harvard University researcher has predicted that in about 20 years, there would be just 10 universities globally that would survive this cataclysmic shake-out in higher education. But how are these new academic ‘institutions’ going to raise funds to ensure continuity in education? Mitra says that these new companies — many promoted by existing universities — are committed to provide free education; however, they will charge students who want to earn credits, or for contact hours with teachers. And venture capital funds are investing in these companies, confident that they will be able to monetise on the numbers. For instance, while each of the 200 students attending Harvard University now pays about $20,000 a year as tuition fees, the online course being offered by it has about a million students. Even if 100,000 of them were to pay $200 a year for certification, the university would earn far more than its traditional income."
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