Is Online Education Going to be Free in the Future?

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One effect of computer and Internet technology is the dramatic change in the way students communicate, learn and interact with their peers. This change paved the way for online education. Over the years, online education has gained enough ground for becoming a mainstream educational approach in the overall learning process.

The Trend of Free Online Education

In order to seek online education, students from around the world pay a specific amount of money to register for a program and take the provided courses live or recorded. There are assignments to complete and tests to assess students’ progress. Once the program completes, only the passing students get their degrees. Today, the main approach of online education is changing as well. There are a few companies, offering online education for free. In the beginning, very few of such services existed teaching a limited set of concepts to online students ranging from secondary to higher education levels. But presently, due to the active involvement of professors of internationally renowned universities, that are offering complete university courses online for free, it is inevitable to suppress the idea that the future might hold an opportunity for free online education.

Limitations of Free Online Education

From the successful response to the free online courses, one point is clear that the idea of free online education is acceptable to the people worldwide. However, the idea is rather impractical. Firstly, these free of cost courses do not offer a degree in the end. This is because of no thorough way to assess the real progress of such a massive student’s body. The idea behind introducing such free online courses was generally to expand the horizon of delivered knowledge. By seeking solely the certificates from the instructors, a student cannot apply in a traditional education system. Furthermore, online courses need a lot of investment to arrange for the required resources. Therefore, the companies offering online courses need a way to generate revenue to balance out the content generation expenses. Therefore, such services cannot stay absolutely free of cost forever.

Business Models for Free Online Education

Various business models are under consideration to generate revenue out of such massive open online courses.

Free Education Models

One business model is to use these courses for advertising. The idea is that the courses get sponsored by companies. This means that the students enrolled in a course would become the target audience of promotional campaign messages or banners. A second business model is that various companies buy these online courses and train the internal employee free of cost. Furthermore, these sites can seek commission by serving as a matchmaker between the companies seeking qualified team of employees and the outstanding students looking for jobs. Such approaches serve to keep the education free.

Non-Free Education Models

In the non-free business model, the advertising approach would be such that the first part of the course would be kept free. In order to complete a course, the student will have to pay a small amount of fee. It could also be that the students completing a course pay a fee to get the certificate. Alternatively, the course is free but to acquire a degree, students would have to pay a small amount of fee. Thereafter, the students would have to take a test in order to qualify. The idea of free online education is fascinating, yet, not entirely possible. It can, however, serve as an effective tool for advertising a course at an affordable price or help the student body get in touch with the employers. In case a company manages to keep up the motto of free online education for the welfare of students worldwide, it is not likely that all online education would be free in the future.


About the Author: Trever P. works as a professional writer for a college paper writing service at http://www.solidessay.com where he consults students on how to appropriately structure their essays, research papers, and dissertations.