In 2016, a group of students will receive master’s degrees in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology. These students will pay $7,000 for the degree – about one-sixth of the traditional cost – and may never set foot on campus. Thanks to an agreement between Georgia Tech, AT&T, and Udacity, a venture-capital funded online education startup, students will learn virtually via a “massive open online course,” or MOOC.
Online education is not new, of course. About one-third of students today take at least one online course, but the MOOC model is different, and many believe it could revolutionize higher education, particularly for students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.
Last month, Stanford University announced it will team with edX, a nonprofit open-source MOOC platform created by MIT and Harvard to offer free online college courses. edX hosts MOOCs from about a dozen schools, including Georgetown University, the latest partner to sign on. While these free courses will not lead to degrees, attendees will receive certificates of completion.