That's the title of a very interesting article at The American Interest by Nathan Harden. Here's an excerpt.
The most important part of the college bubble story—the one we will soon be hearing much more about—concerns the impending financial collapse of numerous private colleges and universities and the likely shrinkage of many public ones. And when that bubble bursts, it will end a system of higher education that, for all of its history, has been steeped in a culture of exclusivity. Then we’ll see the birth of something entirely new as we accept one central and unavoidable fact: The college classroom is about to go virtual.
. . .
The live lecture will be replaced by streaming video. The administration of exams and exchange of coursework over the internet will become the norm. The push and pull of academic exchange will take place mainly in interactive online spaces, occupied by a new generation of tablet-toting, hyper-connected youth who already spend much of their lives online. Universities will extend their reach to students around the world, unbounded by geography or even by time zones. All of this will be on offer, too, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional college education.
How do I know this will happen? Because recent history shows us that the internet is a great destroyer of any traditional business that relies on the sale of information.
. . .
We may lose the gothic arches, the bespectacled lecturers, dusty books lining the walls of labyrinthine libraries—wonderful images from higher education’s past. But nostalgia won’t stop the unsentimental beast of progress from wreaking havoc on old ways of doing things. If a faster, cheaper way of sharing information emerges, history shows us that it will quickly supplant what came before. People will not continue to pay tens of thousands of dollars for what technology allows them to get for free.
There's more at the link. Thought-provoking reading.
I think this is a very positive development, from a very personal perspective. You see, my parents could never afford to send me to university full-time, as my father retired at the same time that I left home; and South Africa didn't offer government-guaranteed student loans. I've completed four university qualifications, but all of them have been obtained on my own dime through distance and/or part-time study. Two were studied by correspondence through the University of South Africa, and two through evening classes at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Based on that experience, I started to look specifically for those who'd completed their degrees part-time when I hired staff to work for me, back in the days when I was in the IT business. I generally found that they were much more self-disciplined, and far more likely to produce quality work from the get-go, because they were used to having to do precisely that in their studies. They couldn't afford to waste time, as it was their own time and money at stake, not Daddy bankrolling them. Furthermore, someone with four to six years in the business world, even in a lower-level job, plus a part-time degree, had far more practical experience than someone with a basic degree plus one to two years' experience. I hired the former whenever I could, and I never regretted that policy.
I hope something like that work ethic will carry over to Internet-based study.