What is being ‘disrupted’ in higher education?

The opportunity for education is being disrupted by the fact that everything revolves around money. It is what blocks many people from being able to receive an education. It is what creates an unfair balance in the types of education that students can receive. Jeffery Selingo writes about five disruptions, that all have to do with money. These are: colleges spending more than they should, colleges getting less money from taxes, students not being able to afford tuition, students can turn to other resources (technology), a degree does not offer students as much as it once did (71). Anya Kamenetz writes that “explicitly market-driven universities…can seem distasteful– a travesty of the dream of free and open education, encroaching ever further on the ideal of education as a public good” (126). She admits that yes, “businesslike thinking is both a necessary and venerable part of the educational ecosystem,” but discusses how other types of education, such as the resources available through technology “can create real efficiencies” in terms of distribution methods (127). More specifically, these new distribution methods allow for a more equitable system: students can choose to take advantage of a free education if they cannot afford to pay the thousands of dollars that most forms of higher education cost. OpenCourseWare, for example, allows people to take different classes for free (although it is important to note that this does not give students any credit or any of the benefits that come with getting a degree… Which I argue is a disruption in higher education). Kamenetz writes that one company, Straighterline, offers “accredited online college courses for $399 per course…but the course credit is granted by just four small, unknown, community and for-profit colleges” (128). Kamenetz goes on to argue that “It would just take a few more prestigious institutions getting on board to change the way people feel about online, on-demand education” (128). Although this is what Selingo refers to as one of the five disruptions of higher education, I believe that accredited online options would serve to fuel more education and not act as a disruption.

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