Friday, July 24, 2009

Federal Government Encourages Free Online Classes

As reported at, the Federal Education Department is planning a program to provide Federal funds to community colleges and high schools who are willing to create free, online courses. Part of the effort would be to support job training programs.

Colleges which participate would be responsible for tracking and reporting on student progress and outcomes, including employment-related outcomes.

Creating high quality online courses will enhance opportunities for learners in rural areas as well as those who are under-employed (and seeking career advancement). I am hopeful that these initiatives to offer free online courses will shift the pricing model of online deliver from one of premium/luxury pricing to one of "self-service/discount" pricing. Too few institutions are using strategic design and economies of scale to deliver skills and knowledge. After all -- how different is the course College Algebra from state-to-state and from institution-to-institution? Rather than having each institution re-invent the wheel, creating highly engaging content which receives ongoing and thorough peer review will lead to more consistent outcomes among learners.

Once the curriculum for the free courses is developed, the next vital step is to ensure they are being taught by highly talented and engaging faculty members who will provide the needed guidance, personalized feedback, and careful assessment which students need to be successful in their online learning environments.

No comments: