LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A national group of faculty leaders is challenging the notion that online learning is a more cost-effective path to a college education.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports researchers are gaining a better understanding of the costs of providing higher education online – and the price students pay for it.

The second report in a three-part series from the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education found the price of a diploma at for-profit and public institutions were often higher than tuition and fees for courses taken at brick-and-mortar locations, despite assumptions that technology would reduce costs.

One example cited in the working paper found that while four years of full-time enrollment in a Business Administration program in the California State University system will cost $21,888 in 2013-14, that same degree will cost over twice as much – nearly $48,000 – when taken at the Fullerton campus through CalState Online, the CSU online system.

While “Massive Open Online Courses”, or MOOCs, have been billed as the wave of the future and are open to anyone who wishes to enroll, the business model is still considered a work in progress, according to the study.

“MOOCs are free now just as many educational TV shows and books from the public library are free; if you just want an “educational experience, you can watch a documentary, read a book, or take a MOOC,” the paper states.

However, if a student seeks a degree or a certificate, they will be charged for “certificates of completion,” and possibly other “premium services.”

California Faculty Association President Lillian Taiz says the promise of cheaper education hasn’t proven true.

“It’ll be cheap, it’ll put a lot of people in a classroom and you’ll be able to do it for a buck a student,” Taiz said. “The point here is to turn out students that are able to handle new issues and new challenges at their jobs…that’s really what an education is about.”

The report also projected that even MOOCs offered by prestigious institutions will be unable to steal the “educational prestige and competitive employment edge” from traditional universities.

Click here
to read the full summary of “The ‘Promises’ of Online Higher Education: Reducing Costs” working paper.


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