Could The Internet Really Replace College?

“Let’s put it this way: if you can build a $100 billion company by using the Internet to replace the college yearbook–imagine what you can do if you use the Internet to replace college.”  — Robert Tracinski

For some time now, I have been talking about the “education bubble” and how it is wobbling about, struggling mid-air, threatening to burst, much like the tech and housing bubbles before it. The news is full of stories about graduates who have difficulty finding jobs and students bogged down by excessive loans.

Then, during my weekend reading, I stumbled across this amazing article by Robert Tracinski, and suddenly, I saw a glimpse of a hopeful future. My mind began racing as I considered all the possibilities Tracinski discusses.

He makes a number of excellent points and while some of it certainly could be labeled conjecture, it makes good sense. It appears that it is time for all of us to reframe our perspective on education. The world is changing more rapidly than ever and it certainly is easy to get caught up in the chaos, or hide in the background, idly surfing the content of the internet as an observer, rather than actively shaping it. If Tracinski is correct, then the change in education will also spur a change in hiring processes and as a result, change in preparation for the workforce:

“Most profoundly, an educational revolution that puts less importance on a “piece of paper” from an established institution will cause employers to re-evaluate how they hire people, and many of them will realize that the best way to find out who will be a good employee is not to take the word of a bunch of bearded, tweed-clad college professors, but rather to see how young people actually work.”

With colleges like MIT and companies like Coursera working to make these ideas reality, there is hope that instead of investing energy in complaints and demands for loan forgiveness, students, teachers and universities will begin to recognize the new frontier that lies before all of us and become active participants in the internet age.

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