The nonprofit online education group edX is developing a "MicroBachelors” degree that can be broken down and taken in components, according to EdSurge. edX, which has developed 45 low-cost online MicroMasters degrees, secured a $700,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation to support the MicroBachelors project.
edX CEO Anant Agarwal, while attending a summit, said the company will launch a MicroBachleors in the next couple of years. He added that the project is consistent with the group's vision for higher education, as well as trends in the marketplace.
Arizona State University in 2015 partnered with edX to offer the online Global Freshman Academy as a way for students to complete their first year online at a lower cost than a traditional residential freshman year. ASU officials said the program was a success despite the fact that few students have completed the full set of courses online and then enrolled in a traditional program.
Educating millions of post-traditional learners is of growing importance to American workforce. And as technology transforms workplaces, experts say workers must be able to retrain and re-skill quickly for the jobs that don’t exist yet. Post-traditional learners, who tend to come for disadvantaged backgrounds, can be priced of out the higher education marketplace. A recent nationwide survey by Champlain College Online found that adult learners without college degrees want to go back to school but many believe it is unaffordable.
With its work on MicroBachelors and MicroMasters, edX may be developing education models that can successfully serve this critical market of potential learners. More innovation and collaboration are needed on this front as demographic data predicts a shrinking number of traditional-age college students over the next decade. In particular, smaller private institutions that are heavily reliant on student tuition and facing enrollment declines cannot afford to ignore adult learners who could be critical to their bottom lines.