US: Virtual revolution brewing for colleges

Students starting school this year may be part of the last generation for which 'going to college' means packing up, getting a dorm room and listening to tenured professors, writes Zephyr Teachout for The Washington Post. Undergraduate education is on the verge of a radical reordering. Colleges, like newspapers, will be torn apart by new ways of sharing information enabled by the internet. The business model that sustained private US colleges cannot survive.

The real force for change is the market: online classes are just cheaper to produce. Community colleges and for-profit education entrepreneurs are already experimenting with dorm-free, commute-free options. Distance-learning technology will keep improving. Innovators have yet to tap the potential of the aggregator to change the way students earn a degree, making the education business today look like the news biz circa 1999. And as major universities offer some core courses online, we'll see a cultural shift toward acceptance of what is still, in some circles, a 'University of Phoenix' joke.

This doesn't just mean a different way of learning: the funding of academic research, the culture of the academy and the institution of tenure are all threatened.
Full report on The Washington Post site