By Steven Pope
StraighterLine has been in the press a lot lately. News about professor led courses through Professor Direct has caught the eye of many major publications like The Economist, Fast Company, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed. We also launched 15 new online college courses, added 38 Excelsior College Credit by Exams, and launched a new website! So there’s a lot to talk about.
The Economist did a feature on the declining value students receive from American universities, and hyped up cost saving options like StraighterLine and our partner college Western Governors University. “To see how efficient higher education can be, look at the new online Western Governors University (WGU). Tuition costs less than $6,000 a year, compared with around $54,000 at Harvard… StraighterLine, a start-up based in Baltimore, is already selling courses that gain students credits for a few hundred dollars.”
Fast Company spotlighted StraighterLine saying StraighterLine is “democratizing higher education.” “The program–which will be eligible for college credit through the American Council on Education–gives professors the option to teach courses directly to students... The first batch of StraighterLine professors themselves hold degrees from universities ranging from Columbia to the University of Phoenix.”
We’re pretty proud of what Fast Company said about us, and if you agree, you can help us democratize higher education by retweeting this tweet.
— StraighterLine (@StraighterLine) December 12, 2012
(By the way, you can see what others are saying about Professor Direct on Twitter with this hash tag: #ProfDirect.)
The Fast Company article has an interesting analysis about the Professor Direct business model. They think we have a great opportunity to have success. “The economics of Professor Direct are as intriguing for would-be university teachers as they are disturbing for universities themselves. Adjuncts, part-timers not on the tenure track, make up 1.3 million of the 1.8 million faculty members in two-year and four-year colleges. At community colleges, they earn a median of $2,235 per course--a sum they could match with enrollment of 10 to 20 in a Professor Direct course.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education featured StraighterLine in two articles recently. The first article discusses Professor Direct: “Professors typically don't worry about what price point a course will sell at, or what amenities might attract a student to pick one course over another. But a new online platform, Professor Direct, lets instructors determine not only how much to charge for such courses, but also how much time they want to devote to services like office hours, online tutorials, and responding to students' e-mails.”
StraighterLine professors such as Dan Gryboski are being mentioned as pioneers in higher education as they are the first to launch with Professor Direct. The Chronicle goes on to say Gryboski “views Professor Direct as a way to keep up his teaching within the time windows he now has for professional work.” Not only is Professor Direct a huge advantage to students who want some additional help, but it is also allowing professors to take advantage of another teaching option.
The second Chronicle article focuses on lowering the cost of a college degree. It features a StraighterLine student, Richard Linder, who used a myriad of methods to lower the cost of his college degree. Linder gave a critique on the problems in higher education and how he dealt with the red tape that surrounds the transferring of college credit from a myriad of alternative-non-traditional methods. Linder, who moved out of his parent’s home at age 16, had to "improvise" to get a college degree. Part of his solution was StraighterLine. He took four college courses from StraighterLine - Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Accounting I, and Accounting II.
Inside Higher Ed even featured StraighterLine’s Professor Direct saying "Self-employed professor" could soon be an actual job title. The article goes into great detail about the future possibilities and impact of professors selling courses directly to students. And it even compares StraighterLine’s product offering to Udemy.
“Most of Udemy’s courses are not taught by traditional academics. Many lack advanced degrees, and offer courses based on their work experience or knowledge about a topic.”
“StraighterLine only hires instructors who have a master’s or doctoral degree in the discipline they will teach.”
Another major difference Inside Higher Ed discusses is credit awarding. While none of Udemy’s courses currently award college credit, “A growing number of colleges have agreed to issue credit for at least some successfully completed courses at StraighterLine.
It’s exciting to see the news media beginning to recognize the revolutionary work we’re doing here at StraighterLine. Stay tuned...
Steven Pope has an MBA from Western Governors University and Bachelors of Science in communication from Weber State University. He has a background as a television reporter in Idaho and Wisconsin, and most recently as an enrollment counselor at WGU.