Things the Collective Should Do: Free Online College

We’re talking completely free, accredited, online associate-level college courses.

A free online college offering courses adhering to high levels of quality. The courses are (in US terms) in the 100-300 level range, enough to satisfy general education requirements and demonstrate a student’s commitment to an institution of higher education. Courses are accredited by relevant standards bodies, and admission is not restricted in any way. Students’ knowledge of the course topic is vetted by open-book online tests, peer reviewed papers, peer-judged class competitions, readings followed by captcha-like comprehension tests, class discussion followed by peer ratings, and/or other scalable systems of measuring comprehension of materials. Courses are copyleft and the subject matter is crowdsourced and peer reviewed.

Cyclical educational disparity exists worldwide. Entirely-online classes are becoming increasingly common but still have costs that preclude the enrollment of the average world citizen . Education is not a zero-sum game, and information is easily recyclable for many minds. Everyone should have a chance at achieving a high level of education, and this idea removes some of the social and economic barriers to this.

Marginalized populations who currently do not have access to high school or college would be able to obtain a higher education, and would be able to apply to other colleges with proof of their academic experience. Existing colleges would have a much wider pool of applicants from more diverse backgrounds. Additionally, seniors and working adults will have the opportunity to engage in life-long learning. Society worldwide will be enriched by a general increase in education.

The first step is the creation of software that would allow people to freely contribute to open sourced course material. The success of Wikipedia is indicative of the willingness of Internet users to contribute information and editing to worthwhile causes. All course content would be reviewed by Professors to ensure that accreditation standards are being met. The software in question would also be usable by students. The college would require marketing designed to appeal to a diverse student body. Peer editing and adherence to high levels of quality will facilitate wide spread accreditation of classes.

If more people obtain free college-level learning, the idea will be a success. The disparity within education can be measured in terms of average levels of learning across overlapping boundaries of gender, income, nationality, and race. The number of person-credit-hours would impart the degree of success of the free online college. A shift in international attitudes toward learning would also indicate improvement. A measurement of the educational divide will be demonstrated in an increased proportion of college students from marginalized backgrounds.

One Reply to “Things the Collective Should Do: Free Online College”

  1. I completely agree with your idea on this subject and I think at some point it will become a reality in some form or another. If an online associate degree is available for free but is attainable in a much more flexible format, I think a lot of young people would prefer to do at least some of their undergraduate work in that forum. If I had a similar option when I was going to school, I almost certainly would have taken the opportunity.

Comments are closed.