Read the reference article from the New York Times here.
MOOCs like Coursera, Khan Academy, EdX, have been around for a few years now. People have been raving about them everywhere. If this is really the case, why are traditional universities still recruiting well despite increasing tuition costs?
The punchline – RECOGNITION.
For the few people I asked, it looks like the article is spot on. I asked this question:
Suppose you’re a hiring manager and you come across two candidates for the same job. They are identical in every way (salary, age, ability, confidence) except one:
One of them has a degree from university, while the other has an outstanding repertoire of skills that was demonstrated and evidenced during the interview.
Every single person polled, chose the degree holder. So are degrees really so obsolete? I don’t think so – not yet at least. Degrees are still the simple heuristic upon which hiring managers decide to identify people who have successfully completed some verifiable, structured, system of training with rigor.
The article suggests that “soon” online courses will be coupled with some sort of testing of skills and ability and the competitor to paper qualifications will emerge – DIGITAL BADGES. It sounds a bit silly to me but it could work, depending largely on the mechanics of such a thing.
I’m skeptical of this future because such physical-to-digital transition trends have an enormous lag effect – just like online payments and transfers. Despite the prevalence of enets, internet banking, paypal, western union, alipay, and others, how many of the next 10 people you meet will be daring enough to exchange cash for digital payments for the rest of their lives?
Traditional face-to-face degrees will continue to be augmented by technology for now but sometime in the not too distant future, degrees will be replaced by badges. If this transition does start, you’ll see it coming a long long way away.
In the meantime, if you’re sitting on the fence about degree or no degree – the paper qualification route unfortunately is the tried and tested route: Reliable, Trusted, and Alive and Kicking.