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Is the Recession Fueling Disruptive Innovation?

This blog post at Hitwise, an online company that tracks trends through the Internet, notes that in the wake of the current recession, interest in online universities has continued to rise, as visits to traditional educational institutions have begun to decrease.

The post raises an interesting and important question: Will students whose families are feeling the pinch of the recession turn to online universities as a way to cut costs without giving up a college education?

A scathing report (PDF) released last week by the San Jose, Calif.-based National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education gives all states except California an F for college affordability. California received a C. According to the report, working class families must contribute about 40 percent of the family income in order to enroll a student in a public four-year college or university. Middle-class families contribute about 25 percent of their family income, and upper-class families pay, on average, 13 percent.

If this trend continues—and realistically, I don't see it going away—it's just one more reason for families to explore online universities as a viable alternative to brick and mortar higher ed institutions.

I'm also interested to see how this will play out in the K-12 arena. As school budgets become more and more strapped, perhaps looking into online classes will help schools meet the needs of students without breaking the bank.

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