Where Are the Graduates of University of the People?


Four years in, students are beginning to graduate from the world’s first free online university. What is their credential worth?

This seems like an interesting experiment, but the limited choice of degree plans is worrying. And the fact that the university isn’t accredited is even more worrying.

Still, I would like to know more about the graduates of this experimental institution and how they’re faring in the job market. It appears that for some of the graduates, at least, the gamble is paying off.

What’s most interesting about the university is that it is deliberately low-tech. The course materials are open source texts and the method of communication between students and professors is asynchronous, generally involving e-mail and discussion forums only. Written assignments are required, but some of the assessment for each course is provided through peer-to-peer interaction. I’d love to see what graduates think of this model of education. Do they feel like they’ve missed out on something by not attending a traditional brick-and-mortar institution? Is the free tuition enough to make up for the lack of face-to-face interaction?

I’m willing to bet that the education you get is on par with the traditional face-to-face education I received, but I’d love to hear what others think. Comments are open!

Source (New York Times): Where Are the Graduates of University of the People?

The Performance Gap in Online Education

Online education is the wave of the future. The number of students taking at least one distance education course rose to a record high of 5.4 million during the fall of 2013 and institutions of higher education are expanding their online presence to meet this increasing demand. Online education promises to revolutionize how and when we learn, providing access to college to many for the first time.

However, there are some worrying findings regarding online education that should give educators pause. Researchers have identified a performance gap between students in online courses and students in traditional courses. Xu and Jaggars (2011) found that students who took their first English or math course online were less likely than their traditional peers to make a C or better in course. The performance gap was most pronounced for younger students, male students, Black students, and students with low GPAs. Read More …