Open-Source Free College?Submitted by Duane Vick on Sun, 09/23/2012 - 13:22
I think this country is in the state it is in because of education. If people are educated liberal, guess what, they become liberal. If education was libertarian, more people would be libertarian. We need schools that don't falsely preach the benevolence of socialism, etc.
Here are the issues I see that we could address:
Educational costs are high because of staffing needs. If we had an entirely online college that had automated courses, we could reduce staffing overhead. Open-source software could reduce the cost of software and could be refined by students in programming classes. In fact, entire courses could be developed by these same students, expanding the reaches of our knowledge.
College Textbooks. Wikipedia is developing wikibooks. Along those lines we can develop books as a result of student understanding. The books are refined every year so education stays current. The books themselves are only available as e-books so as to avoid publishing costs, etc.
Cost of physical location. Since we wouldn't need a large campus hosting thousands of students, physical presence demands are much lower, creating an opportunity to be competitive.
Accreditation. This is perhaps the biggest issue. People don't want to go to your school unless your accredited and you can't get accredited unless you have students. This can be addressed by expanding the reach to nations that are in greater need of educated citizens but are less worried about accreditation, formal degrees, etc. I even think that this college should reach down into primary education to make school available to nations where education is nearly non-existent.
Since these costs can be addressed, tuition rates can be controlled to a greater degree. In fact, if it can be supported entirely by donation, fundraising, contributions from former students to their alma mater. If we can't make it entirely free, we should at least try to help those who wish to attend but can't afford it. That would be in keeping with the spirit of Ron Paul since he didn't take money from those who couldn't afford it. We should strive to keep the same level of charity. Also, we should refuse to take any government money. No pell grants or any other grants of any kind coming from a state or federal entity. Perhaps we can offer private student loans if needed that are competitive and dependent on grades. However, in a perfect world, tuition would be free.
I think if we could reach the level of free, we can bring higher education on our terms to a greater percentage of the population. The overpriced state universities would lose students to us as their costs go up and our prestige goes up.
There is open source software out there, we just need to automate as much of the process as possible.