This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

The Digital Skeptic: Online Education Cuts Value of Higher Ed in Half

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's almost June. Time for dads, grads and counting the living from the dead in the collapsing U.S. higher education market.

Because if my month of learning collegiate-level data science via no-cost Mountain View, Calif.-based online course provider Coursera is any indication, it's time for parents, educators, employers, students, investors -- not to mention college real estate speculators -- to learn how ugly it's going to get to charge a lot to learn a lot.


Investors know this lesson well. Just like in the music, financial services and corporate IT sectors, high-quality, first-rate content -- in this case, a job-fetching higher education -- is absolutely, positively available for nothing.

"When I have heard about your site and the courses you offer," posted Paolo Scolamacchia, a Milan, Italy, computer specialist and one of my roughly 65,000 Coursera no-cost data science classmates. "I was very surprised and excited to join them."

What's remarkable about learning intricate and complex topics such as MapReduce and SQLite with nothing more than a PC is not that automated grading tools work. Or that online social schooling really does replace much of what traditional teachers do. Or that the same gut-wrenching collapse felt by giants including Warner Music Group, the New York Stock Exchange or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) await the giants of higher education.

What's stunning is how ordered, well understood and -- let's be honest -- mundane the process of digital devaluation will be.

A phat, free online higher ed market
Absolutely positively, free online higher education is on the by-now classic explosive Web trajectory of dazzling growth. Geez, Coursera has meetups in 1,646 cities; content from 62 universities including Yale; and investors such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Heck, its teachers will have bigger followings than rock stars.

That means some sort of significant financial event is a certainty. Harvard and MIT's joint online ed effort edX or my sleeper pick, the private Khan Academy, are also in this group. But Coursera is at the head of the class. It is already a popular play on private exchanges such as SecondMarket.


Remember, this is the Web. Coursera will be as profit-challenged as Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN) or any other Internet company. But for the lucky few close to this investment, some sort of lucrative funding event -- maybe even an IPO -- will graduate to the market say, by midyear 2014.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
WPO $699.00 -1.24%
APOL $17.51 0.00%
AAPL $130.28 0.00%
FB $81.53 0.00%
GOOG $565.06 0.00%

Markets

DOW 18,080.14 +21.45 0.12%
S&P 500 2,117.69 +4.76 0.23%
NASDAQ 5,092.0850 +36.0220 0.71%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs