How To Get A Passcode Paying For Edu Online Learning From Portland Community College

PCC, a local community college, has launched a unique new system for fundraising. You can now pay directly for college—and feel like a hero, too.

Edu Online Learning for Portland Community College: Bonus Tip

Oregon community college student Sarah Andrews was joining in a Google class about search by learning how to Google her way through a poem about search and learning how to find items on eBay. She quickly found herself in the position of unknowingly accumulating Google history as she searched. What could she do with the information? Suddenly, Andrews was acutely aware of the score of this information—how quickly someone could type and how much time it takes to write (and copy and paste) a portion of what she had found. What’s the big deal? Wouldn’t a password program like Google Authenticator help her out?

“We should be utilizing systems like this that allow us to use our own information as security because it’s our information,” says Andrews. “I think it’s wrong that schools we attend and students that attend colleges like Portland Community College can’t get a passcode that pays for the credit-card-based tuition they pay on behalf of us.”

The idea of paying for online learning is a tricky one. In most cases, the idea is the complete opposite of how we’ve been taught to pay for college. Until a few years ago, for example, nearly every student at community colleges like PCC was still on their parents’ insurance plans. Additionally, in some states, colleges are finding ways to limit access to things like athletic fields and classrooms to full-time students.

Yet, the idea of paying for online learning does make some sense. Something as seemingly simple as using a passcode would alleviate some of the technology barrier associated with the online teaching setting and help students keep track of and participate in the educational process.

And Andrews has an idea for how to go about creating this passcode payment system.

“People who are more junior may not get the sense of urgency with terms like a security passcode or needing to pay in full at the end of the semester,” she says. “Students who are older would have to have a good sense of urgency or at least have the ability to enroll in online programs.”

In other words, she says, it may make sense to sell “limited offer” passes for students who are ready to take on more, more expensive programs.

“Get a pass for a little something to help offset some of the cost,” Andrews suggests. “You could also put a ‘while you’re here’ option on it for those who pay as they go. It would be pretty easy to create. And then get rid of it after the semester.”

That might help alleviate some of the urgency of paying for online learning, but it’s not without a caveat.

“Do people who pay by credit card really understand the credit card payment method, or are they just paying with the spirit of whatever is offered?” Andrews wonders.

Of course, the idea of using a security passcode to pay for online learning is nothing new, and other industry professionals have been mulling over the idea for years. James Lorans at the Open Education Alliance suggests that students could pay tuition with flexible payment methods such as pre-paid Visa gift cards with a cap for certain students; in exchange, the card issuer would then find a way to authenticate which students have paid what. (Even at the SEC and elsewhere, the security of student accounts is an ongoing concern.)

“It’s a growth space,” Lorans says. “A growing proportion of higher education has gone totally online. Twenty years ago, online-only was unheard of.”

Andrews also notes that there may not be a place for this system with tech-savvy older students and college-going parents. They may be more comfortable with current methods of payments, such as bank transfers. It would also make sense for businesses to be on board with this system, too—after all, pay for college or school by credit card can be an inefficient, methodical experience.

“It’s a fair idea,” Lorans says. “But it’s still no guarantee. If I were a college student, I would have a security pass code that worked for me. But I wouldn’t want to have to use that passcode at a Starbucks or Lowe’s.”

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