“Place-Based Activity”

Bill Gates apparently thinks that soon we’re all going to be going to computer college.
Speaking at the Techonomy Conference in Lake Tahoe, Gates said,

After all, what are we trying to do? We’re trying to take education that today the tuition is, say, $50,000 a year so over four years—a $200,000 education—that is increasingly hard to get because there’s less money for it because it’s not there, and we’re trying to provide it to every kid who wants it. And only technology can bring that down, not just to $20,000 but to $2,000. So yes, place-based activity in that college thing will be five times less important than it is today.

View a video of part of Gates’s speech here:

This is an interesting idea but it seems like something of an exaggeration. Gates has a tendency to confuse things he “would like to happen” with “things that obviously will happen.” Just because he has $53 billion doesn’t mean he’s right.

College has always been more impractical than practical (one word: philosophy) anyway. Real, physical, colleges will probably continue to exist and prosper because rich people like them and want to send their children there.

In order to really see a decline in education at regular, “place-based” colleges, online education would have to get a lot more effective than it currently is.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer