Since Americans have an unfathomable love for a good app, it’s not a huge surprise that just about every platform is trying to get into the education space. Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Salesforce all want to provide you with the tools you need to stay connected with your school, from paying tuition to staying current on the best courses for your major. And we’ve already discussed here a bit about how Facebook is quietly taking some corners of the world’s education systems, but many big tech companies are also taking a bite out of the college textbook business, too. This is all bad news for college students, because online education services like these are actively shutting down bricks-and-mortar courses to make way for their own products, leaving students scrambling to find something to do with their time.
We’ve already explored how the future of online education will make students pay for additional courses at the end of the semester rather than receiving credit for the courses that came before them. This is obviously very bad news for college students who have no way of knowing that the professors they’re about to sit in a class with are virtually unavailable—they’ll pay, but their coursework isn’t going to count toward graduation, nor will they have any guarantee that the next semester will provide them with the same degree.
On top of the financial hit that shutting down these classes could have on students, there’s also the loss of professional status. Universities advertise to students in their brochures about their graduating classes, knowing that students are going to want their degrees as much as possible, and the images and infographics really help bring students up to speed with the path to graduation. They then give students access to real life resources for advice and answers to questions about their majors—all of which is rapidly disappearing as more and more colleges choose to abandon their brick-and-mortar offerings for online ones.
It’s possible that students will still get into college and receive their degrees regardless of what happens to their classes, but that’s always been a big worry for many in the education community. Is it possible that a huge number of these courses are cancelled, leave students without even the ability to take them, and ultimately lead them down a massive road of debt? And what happens to the certification and training that students learn through these programs? What happens if one of these schools or online courses closes down and gives students nowhere to turn?
You don’t have to be an edU professional to wonder if this is what’s going to happen. The Fall 2018 school year brings the latest crisis in online education, with hundreds of colleges around the country deciding to axe their online programs.
So, we know that Apple, Microsoft, and Google want to make a big push in education—but how bad is it?
Would-be technologists have never experienced technology as a “service” as much as they’re doing now, in a variety of areas. At Apple, you can pay for additional educational experiences that are catered toward your interests, like a personalized tutor who works with you and follows your likes and dislikes for ideas for your next project. When it comes to someone’s college education, they may have to provide a bit more out of pocket, but that’s what getting closer to your degree means.
Facebook has also made a number of moves to work more closely with educators in recent years, which should be exciting for college students. In the same way that the company works to make students feel as though they’re very important in their own educational system, it also works very closely with educators to facilitate conversations that allow educators to share new ideas and formats in the classroom and expand upon existing learning material.
So, is the future of online education bad for students? Unfortunately, we’re starting to think the answer is: “Not so much.”