Last month, some of the academia’s most vaunted establishments in the U.S.A. – including Harvard, Cornell, Brown, and Columbia – were hit with multi-million dollar lawsuits from students who claim the universities are offering subpar online learning options in place of the classroom courses promised prior to the imposed pandemic-related campus shutdowns.
For those of a certain age, on reading the Boston Herald article, the Matt Damon bar scene from the movie Good Will Hunting will probably flicker across the memory. In the film, Damon’s character informs his antagonist that one day it will dawn on him that “You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on an education you could have got for a dollar and fifty in late charges at the public library.”
Any reimbursement of tuition fees would be a costly exercise for the universities and possibly – even if indirectly – the US taxpayer should the establishments go ahead and accept a share of funds on offer through the Government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Regardless of grants, it is widely known that the major universities have substantial reserves and active endownment funds to fall back on so to forecast their demise through the on-going court action would be premature to say the least.
The situation though is more pertinent from the learners standpoint as the legal action by current students and the dated assertion by Damon does lead to a questioning of what can be accessed with less capital input but is still capable of generating knowledge.
Filling the Blockchain Knowledge Gap
The need for increased blockchain-related education was most recently highlighted by the American Council for Education report titled Connected Impact – Unlocking Education and Workforce Opportunity Through Blockchain which was compiled with input from corporations, universities and government departments
Today ACE released the findings of a 6-month study on the use of blockchain technology, funded by the @usedgov: https://t.co/2aGA6GJFLd
Check out the paper & learn more about the upcoming Blockchain Innovation Challenge at https://t.co/M9fhheevFD. #BlockchainEDU
— ACE (@ACEducation) June 8, 2020
The authors of the report recognises that even before the campus shutdowns “…education and business leaders were already concerned about the mismatch between educational outputs and labor market demand.”
Two of the companies involved in the study were BitDegree (BDG) and Consensys, both of which are working towards reducing “the mismatch” by appealing to different sets of potential learners and providing realistically priced online courses.
When Free has Value
For those who are just looking to take an exploratory dip into the learning pool without any expenditure there are other options.
FutureLearn harness the input from legacy universities and companies to provide a range of free-to-join short courses on a variety of subjects. Upcoming offerings related to blockchain and cryptocurrency include:
- Introduction to Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) by University College London (starting 22 June)
- Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology Explained by University of Michigan (starting 22 June)
- Raising Capital: Credit Tech, Coin Offerings, and Crowdfunding by University of Michigan (starting 20 July)
- The Future of Payment Technology by University of Michigan (available now)
- Introduction to Encryption and Cryptography by Raspberry Pi and supported by Google (available now)
A slice of university-produced learning for free – as Matt Damon would say, “How do you like them apples?”