Education Opinion

World Education University Disrupts the Cost of Higher Education

By Tom Vander Ark — December 07, 2012 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Tom Vander Ark and Sarah Cargill

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were the top megatrend of 2012. MOOCs made theshift from curiosity to employability. Antioch University is proving that it’s
getting easier to convert a MOOC experience into college credit.

ACE is close behind, evaluating Coursera courses

for credit.

EdX and the Gates Foundation partnered

this month to offer MOOCs at MassBay Community Colleges, proctored through Pearson VUE.

We’ve also seen an explosion of free and cheap post-secondary learning opportunities this year with the boom of online universities like Propero, Straighterline, and UniversityNow
. Education Portal is offering free courses
geared toward College Board’s CLEP exams. And Saylor.org plans to provide a suite of CLEP
courses as well. This week, another free solution hit the market.

World Education University
(WEU) is introducing a new massively open online course (MOOC) business model with a twist bound to disrupt higher education. It’s offering degrees and
full programs that are 100 percent free to students.

WEU founders are driven by a social justice mission to provide a quality education to everyone. The leaders at the new, tuition-free university come from low
income backgrounds and pride themselves on providing a quality education.

“We’re passionate about disrupting the cost of education so that students can improve their socioeconomic condition,” says Scott Hines, President of WEU.
“That’s our secret sauce. Our team - right down to every last person - is focused on this mission of changing people’s lives. It’s not just marketing
speak. It’s genuine.”

WEU is based out of Palm Springs where its leadership built its family and homes. “The talent pool in Palm Springs is pretty amazing,” says Hines. The
university is currently working toward raising $15 million in Series A funding with investors who have a mission to provide cheaper, better higher
education opportunities.

Doors opened December 1, 2012 with a full host of courses students can enroll in now. WEU is launching
with seven schools or departments: education, psychology, engineering, health sciences, legal studies, and business.

“We put a lot of emphasis in user experience and engagement,” says Hines. “We’re trying to make WEU cool and we have a lot of experiential and exciting
things for students.”

The university operates as a degree-granting university through third-party evaluations and exams at Excelsior College in Albany, New York that range from $40
to $400. Yet, the true holy grail of these free and cheap options is accreditation. WEU is currently in the application process to become an accredited
university, yet does not provide assurances “as to if or when accreditation might be granted.

“We are confident, but it’s always a challenge,” says Hines. “There are some accreditation bodies that are more open than others to innovation. We have a
full time staff that does nothing more but work on accreditation.”

Some may ask about the ability to verify students and academic honesty in the completion of exams for credit. WEU plans to use keystroke authentication
technology, which will eventually move to full facial recognition.

Yet, arguably accreditation bodies may be on their way out. This is especially apparent in the programming world where coders and Web developers are
picking up their skills in open source forums and Code Academy. With the eruption of free universities and MOOCs,
will accreditation still be the marker of skill and knowledge that employers are looking for?

“We’re focused on job placement so that students have a great job lined up after they graduate,” says Hines. “We ask our students to sign a give back
mission to take their education and do good in the world.”

Down the line, WEU plans to offer freemium services such as tutoring and low-cost course like $20 ebooks. Yet, WEU intends to keep the majority of its
courses free.

“The market is so enormous, there’s plenty of room for all of us,” says Hines. “At the end of the day, it’s who can develop the most comprehensive

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP