The disruptive effects of ‘free’ education

After reading Wired Chris Anderson’s (2009). Free: The Future of a Radical Price (available but ironically only for free to residents from the world’s richest country, the US, from SCRIBD), I spent some time reflecting on the disruptive effects of ‘free’ on higher education provision and opportunity.

Free has not only effected media consumption, publishing, and software production but also has capacity to create very disruptive, low end challenges to higher education. A low end disruption offers a service to a large new market by providing satisfactory (but not necessarily equivalent, at least at the beginning) services to large new groups of consumers. The most publicized example in higher education is the University of the People, founded by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Reshef. UoPeople is headquartered in California and is now registering students for its first courses to begin in September 2009. Mr Reschef provides a good overview of his vision and the logistics of operating a very low cost institution in a recent Higher Ed podcast. Continue reading