The cost of higher education has been a deterrent for millions of students over the years, keeping them from pursuing career goals and dreams that would have changed the course of their lives. For many people, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree would put them in debt for decades, and aiming even further to a master’s or doctorate was impossible to attain due to financial constraints.
But today, merging traditional education with virtual knowledge and open-access research has turned what was once an expense on par with purchasing a house into a means that could be making higher education more affordable in the future.
What is Affordable Learning?
As the shift towards virtual learning and education practices has increased in demand and understanding, especially in a post-COVID-19 world, the need for different options to obtain higher education has expanded. For this reason, as well as the comprehension of how higher education is crucial but not affordable in developing countries, organizations such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications have worked together with the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to promote the Open Educational Resource (OER).
This resource, and these organizations, have the goal of improving access to high quality, higher-level education around the world, including in developing countries, through collaboration and technology. The OER focuses on ensuring that many educational resources designed for teaching, research, and expanding knowledge to others are released into the public domain as free intellectual property that can be used and repurposed by anyone who wishes to gain knowledge from those programs.
Through OER, affordable learning has taken a front seat in education around the world. These groups aim to make higher education affordable to students by reducing costs wherever it is possible - thus the term “affordable learning.
What Affordable Learning Looks Like
With affordable learning, though, these costs are analyzed and cost-saving measures are attempted to replace them. Affordable learning initiatives include enacting procedures such as:
● Switching from paid subscriptions to library-licensed materials that allow students to freely access books, electronic journals, and magazine articles or eBooks via digital resources rather than individual physical copies
● Collecting, compiling, and disseminating amongst the campus resources that are available through Open Education in order for faculty to use for instruction as an enhancement or modification to their current resources
● Encouraging scholars and researchers to create their work and publish it as open content for others to use freely as well
● Pushing for reduced prices in textbooks when they are released or advocating for lower costs in general and offering students access to reduced price textbooks through online resources or assistance with purchases
With so many of the typical overhead costs cut because of affordable learning initiatives, those costs can then be transferred to the students in the form of lower tuition and expenses.
Challenges to Affordable Learning
As with anything new, there are obstacles that must be overcome for affordable learning to become a standard measure of practice around the world. Virtual learning in and of itself has a host of challenges that students and instructors must handle in order for content and knowledge to be shared, as well as the institutions’ role in handling the technology aspect.
Publishers rely on higher costs and regularly updated editions of their textbooks in order to continue to operate and affordable learning naturally cuts into those profits.
Open education resources online introduce copyright and licensing issues that have to be addressed. This ease of publishing avenues also causes the problem of misinformation that is so readily available with the ensuing difficulty of users learning how to tell it apart from factual data.
But as these challenges are continually overcome, the future of affordable learning in higher education means that more people are going to be able to make a bigger impact on society, with the global results of improved living conditions for generations.
Impactio’s Digital Resources Can Help
Impactio is an all-in-one platform designed for academics and used by experts around the world. The Impactio program makes it easy for researchers to compile their work and put it together to create professional profiles ready for seamless integration into open network resources.
Once your work is published, you can follow it through citation indicators to gauge its impact and see how students and professors are using your findings to improve their lives and assist with the affordable learning initiatives around the world.