I’m taking an online game theory course form coursera.org. It is free and the interface is easy to use. I’m halfway through the first week’s lectures and enjoying it. Will I pass? Possibly not. A free course for no credit that doesn’t go on a transcript does not have the traditional motivation. But it’s fun and I am learning.
These courses open up an incredible opportunity for learning. They may or may not be accepted as college courses, but they are college courses, complete with a final exam. It would be very easy for someone else to take the course for a student, which is why I hesitate to suggest that credit be given. But it is possible to get a college education without actually getting a college degree by taking free, online courses.
There are two aspects to a college degree:
1. The knowledge. It’s not just what one comes away from college knowing, but it is having gone through the process of learning. Of course, students who retain the knowledge get more out of college, but students who realize what it takes to learn something have an added advantage.
2. The degree. Many jobs require a college degree, even if the degree is actually irrelevant to the job.
Thanks to the Internet and a large number of institutions who are giving away very valuable courses, it is possible for people to have all the advantages of a college education except the actual degree. The cost is a little electricity, a good Internet connection, and a lot of time. Kudos to the organizations that are making it possible for so many people to get an education.