The Economist has an article entitled The Digital Degree on the disruptive potential of online education. In the middle of a lot of hype, one finds this interesting concept that combines the benefits of online education and traditional universities:
Anant Agarwal, who runs edX, proposes an alternative to the standard American four-year degree course. Students could spend an introductory year learning via a MOOC, followed by two years attending university and a final year starting part-time work while finishing their studies online. This sort of blended learning might prove more attractive than a four-year online degree. It could also draw in those who want to combine learning with work or child-rearing, freeing them from timetables assembled to suit academics. Niche subjects can benefit, too: a course on French existentialism could be accompanied by another university’s MOOC on the Portuguese variety.
BTW, I liked this summary of the benefits of attending a traditional university:
Traditional universities have a few trump cards. As well as teaching, examining and certification, college education creates social capital. Students learn how to debate, present themselves, make contacts and roll joints. [Bold emphasis added]