Free online courses have benefits

Staff column by Justine Leung

To earn an education requires a lot of spending, decreasing options for students when it comes to higher education. Chapman is the perfect example for this. We go to a school that costs around $41,000 per year. Is this the price everyone should pay for an education? I personally believe that education should be free.

I recently learned about a website called www.coursera.com. It is a massive open online-course site that increases access to education for millions of people around the world, for free.

The plethora of different subjects offered are all taught by professors from Princeton, Michigan, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and other prestigious universities. A regular Coursera student can benefit in numerous ways. Without paying escalating tuition fees, the student can watch high-quality lectures and be directed to read the same materials as the in-class students.

However, it doesn’t just stop at lectures. The courses include interactive quizzes as well as homework help on a large online database.

With innovations such as Coursera, the world of elite higher education is suddenly opening up to the masses.

I understand that taking a course on Coursera doesn’t grant you a degree or give you any formal type of accreditation, but for someone who genuinely just wants to learn and apply this knowledge to his or her life, it is completely beneficial.

Coursera recently announced that it has collaborated with American Council on Education (ACE) to begin a credit-equivalence evaluation. This means in the future, students will potentially have the opportunity to receive college transfer credit at institutions choosing to accept ACE recommendations. My only issue with this would be if the student would be required to pay when this is initiated. Coursera could become another online education institution, such as University of Phoenix.

Perhaps what Coursera is doing is giving online learning a new edge. Maybe it is giving this type of education much more value than what it is perceived to have right now.

I don’t think that this new way of learning will ever replace the old. There is an invaluable aspect of college life itself that helps you grow and develop as a person. An online education doesn’t offer the same experience as studying with your friends and prepping for midterms and finals. If you want to get a job, employers often value the fact that you have been filtered and chosen over other people than at a school that isn’t as competitive.

But in the end, online courses take a lot of self-motivation. There is no one mandating you to do anything or to submit the homework on time. I feel like taking a course like this would teach you a lot about yourself and what you are interested in, and it is absolutely free. For someone who truly wants to learn, Coursera is a valuable resource.


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