While many universities have been offering some of their courses online for a few years now, none have offered actual degrees (aside from dubious “professional” colleges). Georgia Tech is first to have taken the leap. In collaboration with Udacity (which I have written about before), they are offering an accredited masters of computer science degree for $7,000.
Of particular interest is the fact that the actual courses are free. It is only the degree that costs money. This is nevertheless good news. There are a number of positive things to note:
- An actual college degree can be obtained online from home without having to move and live near or on a campus.
- The cost is much less than tuition for the same degree is normally; not to mention the considerable savings in living expenses.
- The actual education is free for everyone in the world.
- The degree is obtained via proctored exams offered at 4000 Pearson locations around the country.
That last item also points to another positive trend – certification by exam. Currently, the primary value of a college degree has nothing to do with education. Its main value is the piece of paper that opens doors into the world of employment. Sadly, most employers don’t care about what you know, but only that you have a piece of paper that claims you know it.
The tide supporting that practice is beginning to ebb. In the computer world, certification by exam is becoming more and more mainstream. With this major change from Georgia Tech, that trend will become even more mainstream and potentially lead to the same practice in other disciplines.
With college education, similarly with health care, increasingly showing itself to be little more than lot of money for little real value, this news is most welcome.