Nathan Harden believes “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) offer a new way forward:
Today, when you drive down music row in Nashville, a street formerly dominated by the offices of record labels and music publishing companies, you see a lot of empty buildings and rental signs. The contraction in the music industry has been relentless since the Mp3 and the iPod emerged. This isn’t just because piracy is easier now; it’s also because consumers have been given, for the first time, the opportunity to break the album down into individual songs. They can purchase the one or two songs they want and leave the rest. Higher education is about to become like that.
The trend for the future will be more compact, targeted educational certificates and credits, which students will be able to pick and choose from to create their own academic portfolios. Take a math class from MIT, an engineering class from Purdue, perhaps with a course in environmental law from Yale, and create interdisciplinary education targeted to one’s own interests and career goals. Employers will be able to identify students who have done well in specific courses that match their needs. When people submit résumés to potential employers, they could include a list of these individual courses, and their achievement in them, rather than simply reference a degree and overall GPA.