As Ned Flanders would say, education in the U.S. is in “a dilly of a pickle.” At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the cost of education has become unsustainable. Student loan debt is over $1 trillion, unemployment remains high for the recently graduated, and non-traditional students — older people, single mothers, workers looking to re-train — are returning to academia and learning programs in droves, putting even more competitive pressure on already-scant on-site resources. Higher ed institutions struggle with the cost of expanding to meet demand. Yale, for example, recently decided to add 250 students to its incoming class, which came with a price tag of a quarter of a billion dollars.
Luckily, a number of startups are tackling the problem, which, along with the maturation of online content distribution, are helping to lower the cost of both higher, primary, and continuing education — both making it easier for teachers to do what they do best as well as transforming learning into something that’s more engaging and personalized for students. Startups like Khan Academy, 2tor, ShowMe, Udemy, Udacity, Grockit, Coursera, and StraighterLine are all beginning to show how easy it is to flip the educational process – in other words, to use video and advanced web platforms to make learning more affordable and effective.