Ga. Tech is paving an Internet highway to a master's degree [Virginian - Pilot]
(Virginian - Pilot Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Tamar Lewin
The New York Times
In January, the Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a master's degree in computer science through massive open online courses - known as MOOCs - for a fraction of the on-campus cost, a first for an elite institution.
If it even approaches its goal of drawing thousands of students, it could signal a change to the landscape of higher education.
Free MOOCs have not yet produced profound change, partly because they offer no credit and do not lead to a degree. The disruption may be approaching, though, as Georgia Tech, which has one of the country's top computer science programs, plans to offer a MOOC- based online master's degree in computer science for $6,600 - far less than the $45,000 on-campus price.
Zvi Galil, dean of the university's College of Computing, expects that in the coming years, the program could attract as many as 10,000 students annually, many from outside the United States and some who would not complete the full master's degree.
"Online, there's no visa problem," he said.
The program rests on an unusual partnership forged by Galil and SebastianThrun, a founder of Udacity, a Silicon Valley MOOC provider.
The prospect of a prestigious low-cost degree program has generated great interest.
"Perhaps Zvi Galil and Sebastian Thrun will prove to be the Wright brothers of MOOCs," said S. James Gates Jr., a University of Maryland physicist.
"This is the first deliberate and thoughtful attempt to apply education technology to bringing instruction to scale. It could be epoch-making. If it really works, it could begin the process of lowering the cost of education and lowering barriers for millions of Americans."
Some faculty members worry that it could dilute the value of a Georgia Tech degree. And some object to the idea of outsourcing part of their work to a for-profit company such as Udacity.
Higher-education officials say they will be watching closely.
price difference: $38,400
Georgia Tech, which has one of the country's top computer science programs, plans to offer an online master's degree in computer science for $6,600 - far less than the $45,000 on-campus price.
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