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Academic Technology Services blog

e-learning: the future of learning

It is clear college tuition and the methods students are using to pay for their education is unsustainable. In looking at Forbes’ Top Colleges in America, you’ll find Colorado College ranked 29th among other elite schools. You’ll also notice a trend in tuition costs.  A recent article in the New York Times highlighted a few staggering data points:

- The U.S. has racked up more than $1 trillion in student loans

- Today 94 percent of student earning a bachelor’s degree take out loans – up from 45 percent in 1993,

- It’s estimated that the “average debt [per student] in 2011 was $23,300, with 10 percent owing more than $54, 000 and 3 percent more than $100,000.”

- “Payments are being made on just 38 percent of the balance of federal student loans, down from 46 percent five years ago.”

- State funding of education is going down, and tuition is going up, which means that the figures above will just get worse.

Out of Forbes’ top 100 schools, only 15% of those schools offer an annual tuition cost under $50,000. It begs the question, in an economy trying to recover, how do we as a nation offer college-bound students a quality education at an affordable cost?

The answer is still unclear, however, those in the education technology field see two converging trends pointing toward a future where the traditional university gives way to an online alternative. It’s a natural progression; a combination of the Web, video technology, and education; websites dedicated to offering education through an e-learning model.

Below are some of the most popular e-learning sites:

Udacity

Coursera

Khan Academy

EDX

This is not to suggest e-learning will be replacing the college system anytime soon, nor should we want them to. Since these sites are still in the early stages, what their impact will be and whether or not they will be a lasting trend, is still uncertain. It’s safe to predict a higher-ed model that involves web-based learning, but not one solely entrenched in web-based learning.

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