How to Beware of the High Cost of 'Free' Online Courses

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Education is one of the last sectors which is getting digitized at a very fast pace right now. This field was kept far away from the impacts of digitization until lately, as the sustenance of many industries was totally dependent on the continuance of educational sector in the traditional way. However, in the span of the last two to three years under the initiative of some of the recognized universities of USA, the process of digitization of education started on a large scale with the introduction of free online education mainly under the initiative of two commercial organizations i.e. Udacity and Coursera and followed by edX, another organization of the same genre.
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Double Edged Sword

Recognized professors associated with famed universities like Harvard, MIT, Stanford and others have played a key role in this process of digitization. One of the major steps in this direction was the introduction of MOOCs movement i.e. Mass Open Online Courses whereby free online version of all the niche courses offered by a university was made available to the motivated learners. The key players behind this movement are of the opinion that they have taken up such initiatives with the altruistic aim of stimulating democratization of higher education through the introduction of this technology driven revolutionary movement.

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However, the critics are not satisfied with such explanation and are of the view that free online education will in reality annihilate or destroy the traditional system of classroom teaching and bring in more troubles. Moreover, if free online version of the niche courses of MIT, Harvard and other universities are offered to the aspirants, then they would not have much interest or zeal to actually work hard to qualify for enrolling in a full time course with these universities. This will certainly impact the revenue generating capacity of the universities and these institutions will be transformed into a hub of the elite class who has the luxury of time and money for attaining a full time course.

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Therefore, the free online courses will certainly act as a deterrent in the path of attaining the actual aim of education. Though there is no denying the fact that some of the deserving candidates who do not have the means for attaining such courses will be benefited, but at the same time by making such rich resources easily available to all, they will also loose the zeal to work hard for gaining access to it. Moreover, some professors who are against the MOOC movement are of the opinion that once the students get accustomed to free education, it will be difficult or quite impossible to reverse these trend if need arises. Therefore the real cost of free online education is far higher in comparison to what can be apparently observed.

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