Higher Education

out-teaching the automated network

If you want to build an online FYC program that would work for the
18-20 yo college student, there are a couple of hurdles that need to be

1. Online education, as it is largely designed now, requires a high
degree of self-motivation and self-discipline. It's sort of the
opposite of online porn, which thrives on titillation and idleness. Your
online course needs to be the kind of place students habitually surf
to, like checking their Facebook pages.

2. Online education requires the development of a new set of pedagogic
behaviors. Students have 12 years of learning how to behave in the
classroom: i.e. sit in the back and avoid eye contact with the teacher
while still managing to look like you're paying attention. Ok, maybe
that's a snarky but there is a learned passivity that students have
acquired through schooling. Games probably give us the best potential

insight into teaching participants how to behave using a kind of
built-in reward system. Play the game as it asks to be played and gain
access to various rewards and improved reputation.

These are not trivial problems. In addition, you'd have to consider how
you'd deliver a writing curriculum that you actually valued.

Now here's what I would do if I were a big university or even better a
state university system. I would create a program like this and offer
it as a kind of freemium model. There would be plenty you could do for
free but if you wanted access to the college instructors then you would
pay some relatively small fee. Really the purpose of the fee would be
more to ensure that the students who were involved had some level of
buy-in and commitment to the program.

Alternately you could have a freemium model where students could choose between having advertisements or paying for an ad-free version. That's probably more questionable in terms of typical university ethos, but that's b/c you are forgetting about the money Coke or Pepsi pays for exclusive pouring rights on your campus and a variety of other marketing tie-ins we have learned to overlook.

Then I would offer credit for the course to anyone who enrolled in the
university system for some minimum amount of credits. You would
essentially be offering low-cost AP credit courses. Why not? You're
accepting those credits for free anyway and offering a course like this
might drive system-wide enrollment.

Of course you'd have to look at how you pay for the delivery of the
course. You might consider looking at how social media applications
make their money, including ad money. You could also consider the marketing advantage of
offering such a course. In addition you could offer special programs for military personnel and others who really needed online course credit.

My point is that if you are worried about the "threat" of private companies offering low-cost online college courses, then as an industry you can crush them the way that Microsoft crushed Netscape by bundling their web browser for free with each pc.