Reducing the cost of higher education[edit | edit source]
Vandegrift G, Heitkamp B, Partington A, Timmerman K
Abstract[edit | edit source]
The inflation adjusted cost of higher education in the United States has doubled in the past 25 years. The current student loan debt is $1.49 trillion, which is almost 7% of our $21.4 trillion dollar gross domestic product. A trend that has persisted for many decades is not likely to be reversed without a concerted effort, and the aforementioned monetary amounts are sufficiently large to warrant serious investments in search of alleviation. For example, the expected value of a proposed reform that reduces tuition costs by 1% for 1 year is almost certainly over $10 million dollars, even if the proposal has only a 1% chance of succeeding. Extrapolate this to a 10% reduction with 10% probability of success over 10 years of accrued savings, and the expected value is $10 billion (current) dollars. Two proposals are discussed here: One involves the hosting of open source computer programs that are typically offered on a commercial basis, and the other is that students have the opportunity to take an online standardized test as a "prelim" that allows them to complete a course with a reduction in both contact hours and required tuition and fees.
- Maintenance of educational open source software platforms. Physics students explored a sample version of a commercially available version of SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis) as a means to supplement the electronics component of physics or engineering courses.
- Cut student/teacher contact time with a "flipped semester": The flipped semester would be an extension of the well-known flipped classroom where students acquire the basic skills, knowledge, and vocabulary online, outside the classroom. Instead of tasking individual instructors with organizing the online learning, an vast open source exam bank with accompanying study guides could be used so that students could prepare for preliminary entrance exams. Those that pass these "prelims" could then opt for a much truncated course with a corresponding reduction in tuition. And, high school students could begin to prepare for these prelims during summer vacation, while they are still living at home. This bank of exam questions and study guides needs to be so vast that each individual college or instructor could select those portions that need to be mastered before a student could take the class. The intent is not to create a uniform curriculum or set of standards, but a repository of materials from which educators can select and set their own standards.
Online services like these can be maintained at very little cost and should be subsidized by the government in the same way access to state and national parks is made available to the public. The internet has made knowledge somewhat akin to Yosemite Falls, priceless but easily made universally available at virtually zero cost to the taxpayer.
The next step is to make accreditation of a portion of this knowledge freely available to everybody. Read about it here.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Quizbank/Flipped semester
- Quizbank/Creating a bank so students won't ''break the bank''
- Quizbank/Cost-benefit analysis
- Calibrated Peer Review