Why online learning is more valuable than traditional college

Distance learning — especially given the advances of high definition video conferencing — has long been touted as a way to augment conventional educational techniques, Wired reports.

Increasingly, though, it’s worth considering whether it might even be a valuable substitute for a traditional college degree.

Consider the skyrocketing costs of college tuition. For the last 30 years it had been taken for granted that you got a college degree to earn more money throughout your career.

Now, however, the student debt problem has escalated dramatically in America. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports $902 billion in outstanding nationwide student loan debt, while the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau estimates the figure at $1 trillion.

With the rising cost of university tuition in America, it’s fair to question whether the additional income you might earn with a college degree may actually offset the cost of the loans you need to pay for that degree. Perhaps the answer to the student debt problem is a better embracing of online education.

Online colleges have existed for decades, of course.

But I’m not talking about these for-profit universities. I’m talking about an atmosphere of free learning from the best available lecturers. The Khan Academy, for example, is a non-profit organization with a goal of providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere. To date, it has offered over 300 million lessons. Its YouTube channel has more than 283 million total views. By comparison, MIT’s channel has 52 million views, and less than half of Khan’s 1,233,000 subscribers. That’s the power of video and learning.

The downside of an online education is the absence in many cases of an accredited degree. The reason that has been a problem is because employers do not typically accept course credits over an actual degree.

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