24 June 2007

Competition in education

For some reason, thought yesterday about a comment from Doug, a former University staffer who ran the Center for Distance Learning. "Competition is coming to higher education," he claimed. Distance learning through the internet would make online classes and universities possible, and there would be competition for students and their tuition fees.

I don't think the internet made competition between universities possible. I think it was the car.

Think late 19th century, early 20th century. How long would it take you to travel 30 miles? If you lived that far from an university, you probably couldn't go to university. Now, of course, people routinely commute much farther than that on a daily basis. If someone wants to move to attend a university hundred of miles away, it's actually pretty trivial.

That said, I've seen a lot of people who have no desire to leave their region. A lot. But I haven't felt or seen any sort of sea change in the way people think about their education. I don't know if people see value in getting an online degree.

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