We had our Arts & Sciences Division meeting this morning, and one interesting comment the dean made was that we might begin seeing the formation of what are essentially college brokers in the next few years. These businesses would look at a student and say, ‘OK, you took these AP courses in high school, and these online courses from University of Phoenix, and these courses from your local community college, and you want a degree in X’. Then they’d go make a lot of phone calls about transferability and try to find the best deal for the student. ‘It looks like you could take these two online courses from the College of Maine and they’d give you a degree, or here is another option from Seattle University. What institution would you like on your diploma?’. Interesting idea.
It’s just part of the decentralization of education that everyone seems to agree is happening. Another idea I’ve heard suggested is the outsourcing of degree granting to third parties – as long as you can pass the right exams, it doesn’t matter how you gained your knowledge and skills. (Think something like the bar exam for lawyers, but for all fields of study.). I could see this working for Associate and Bachelor degrees at least. Above that level learning becomes more like a specialized apprenticeship and exactly where you studied is of increased importance.
You can imagine that both these ideas could increase competition among colleges, who would find themselves having to attract students to individuals classes as much as attracting them to the institution as a whole. Fun times we live in.