As shown previously the cost of digital education is lower then traditional one. Research shows that to create content on the internet cost magnitude less then to have a teacher teach it to the students as it allows for unlimited amount of students to access the same material as many times as necessary, As such a cost of online course that results into a Diploma in the case of higher education should be lowered as well. This might have a large impact on a the amount of people that might be interested in getting higher education especially in countries such as UK where higher education costs tens of thousands of pounds. (Docs.sasg.ed.ac.uk, 2019) sources the costs of Higher education in online courses. The cost of these ranges from 5-15 thousand pounds per 3 years of undergraduate program. As such it is in some cases six-times cheaper to attend this online course then a to get a degree via traditional modes of study.
This is not a concern for the families in the middle and upper class as these families can whether afford to provide education for their children outright or they understand the importance of education and motivate their children to use the many student loan providers to get their education. The problem is with the working class where the family cannot afford to provide their children with a very expensive education and the idea of their children owing tens of thousands of pounds as soon as they finish their diploma seem unreasonable and so they will often discourage their children from attending university (Philips, 2017). The research suggests that as these lower income families have often a debt of their own and are often not very financially literate, the fear of being in debt can easily sway them to prevent their children from taking out a student loan. Working class children are also often forced to quit school early to help out their family by getting a job early.
The online alternative to a very expensive education can be quite exciting to people in these circumstances. For only over a hundred pounds a month a student can afford to attend online higher education and most importantly this can be done while maintaining a job which might be necessary for people in lower socio-economic conditions. This sudden availability of cheaper education might cause a sudden increase in the amount of graduates from working class families and might be responsible for decreasing the gap between the rich and the poor that has been steadily increasing in the last 50 years.
One of the concerns at giving people free access to higher education has always been that it might turn out that too many people will study courses such as art and music and that with this over saturation in these disciplines, the stem fields might suffer. Online education is a positive response and a compromise between a very expensive education that many people might be put off by the price tag and the free education that might make the balance of professions that are required by the society to be out of balance.
Online education offers an affordable price while still having some barrier of entry that makes people who are unsure of what to do enter a field they are not interested in which only wastes time of all parties.
The problem occurs when we start seeing education shift more and more towards online education. There is certainly an argument that online education has its benefits. However, it wouldn’t be fair to suggest that there are no perks in traditional style of education. One of the big advantages of studying while physically present in the classroom is not only the face-to-face value the students get from learning from the educated professional but also the potential networking that students can go trough. Meeting people with the same interests who can potentially help you move towards a career you are more interested in can have un-quantifiable benefits. It’s hard to put a price-tag on meeting someone who can be a beneficial partner for the entirety of one’s professional career.
This shift away from the traditional way of studying can therefore carry many problems despite being affordable to the students. Having a new generation of online educated people that finish their degree with no connections or directions they want to move their career in might prove to be just as bad as them having no education at all since they wasted years of their lives perusing a career they have no level of entry into.
There are certainly steps that could be taken to rectify this problem. There could be monthly class meeting of these online students that could simulate some form of socializing with their peers and therefore allow for a more authentically educational experience which might just be what is required to make online education a more fruitful way of conducting education for the new generation of students.
There is a difference between the kind of students that attend online higher education courses. One of these groups are young to middle aged professionals who are looking to progress their career by getting a diploma. The second category is young adults that are attempting to get affordable education that they can attend alongside their day job. These two categories of students have very different expectations of what the education they are trying to accomplish will give them. The courses that these students are taking part in could be more tailored to the needs of different types of students by offering more employment skills thus allowing the newer generation of students to put their newly acquired education to good use.
Docs.sasg.ed.ac.uk. (2019). Online Learning Table of Fees 2019-2020. [online] Available at: http://www.docs.sasg.ed.ac.uk/fees/odl_2019-2020.cfm?sorter=Programme_Name [Accessed 4 Aug. 2019].
Philips, A. (2017). Student loans deter poorer students from university. [online] Institute of Education. Available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/news/2017/jun/student-loans-deter-poorer-students-university [Accessed 30 Aug. 2019].