Staff Editorial

Online service offers free higher education

If tuition and fees seem too much on campus, consider open source textbooks and free education online.
While free online coursework doesn’t seem likely to replace traditional college classroom settings any time soon, it’s close.

Coursera, a company founded by two Stanford University professors, offers educational material for 111 classes from 17 different institutions, including Rice University.

Even a moderately successful career necessitates a college degree, but a university education costs an arm, a leg and four years of young adult lifes. That’s assuming you don’t have to work part-time to pay tuition — if you do, you probably won’t be one of the lucky 16 percent of students who graduate from UH within four years.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that some of Coursera’s classes will, in fact, provide credit.
Although it seems to be a bit of a stretch to think you can build a free degree out of it, a service like Coursera is a step in the right direction for education, and it’s one that UH, as an institution devoted to the advancement and education of young people, could be a part of.

UH students shouldn’t give up hope on free learning just yet, though. Online resources like Coursera could be used to supplement materials provided by a professor.

If students are feeling particularly ambitious, they could even take courses on subjects ranging from cryptography to quantum mechanics just for the sake of learning.

It is possible that this is a fad and that free education isn’t going anywhere, but the 680,000 currently enrolled students seem to say otherwise.

Coursera’s mission statement essentially says it is committed to making good education available to anyone and everyone, and that’s something any college student should get behind.
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