"We want to help the millions of Americans seeking a college education who haven't been able to take the first step." (OnlineDegree.com)
OnlineDegree.com launched its services in July 2018 and makes an incredible offer: complete your first year of college online for free! There is no application; aspiring students simply enter their email address to get started on any of the 15 offered courses. When finished, users can download their transcript and send it to one of the six colleges OnlineDegree.com partners with directly, or to any of the 1,400 institutions that recognize the recommendation the service has received from the National College Credit Recommendation Service. OnlineDegree.com wants to make college affordable for everyone, and offering 44 free credit points is their attempt to make that goal a reality. Not only can aspiring college students earn credits without paying tuition, anyone can enroll in free courses on topics ranging from robotics and programming to nutrition and health.
A Great Idea, But Kinks in Content
OnlineDegree.com has an impressive mission, but in this early stage of its development, the educational content of its courses has room for improvement. While each course lists an expert instructor, the lectures that make up the course are not always given by that expert. The Introduction to Psychology Course, for example, lists Dr. John Agnew from Georgetown as the instructor. However, the course features recorded lectures by Mark Steyvers from the University of California, Irvine, along with miscellaneous Youtube videos and TED Talks. One especially strange video began by introducing a study about the effectiveness of cognitive interviews to decrease memory loss, but suddenly turned into a horror story, and ended with an advertisement for a vacation house in Wales. Each lesson concluded with a short quiz and an exercise to promote learning. The quiz had to be completed before moving on, but the platform provided no incentive to complete the exercises.
Saving Money at the Cost of Learning
OnlineDegree.com is trying to do a good thing. If colleges accept credits from the platform, it could save students a lot of money. However, the misleading and miscellaneous content of the current courses undermines their educational value. With time, this platform could promote equity in education, but only if, in addition to being affordable, the courses foster genuine learning.Image: by kreatikar via Pixabay