After the inaugural award in January, a new month brings a new ATOM AotM. This time, we go to an entirely different sector than we examined last time. The award for this month goes to the collaboration between the Georgia Institute of Technology, Udacity, and AT&T to provide a fully accredited Masters of Science in Computer Science degree, fully online, for the very low price of $6700 on average.
The disruption in education is a topic I have written about at length. In essence, most education is just a transmission of commoditized information, that, like every other information technology, should be declining in cost. However, the corrupt education industry has managed to burrow deep into the emotions of its customers, to such an extent that a rising price for a product of stagnant (often declining) quality is not even questioned. For this reason, education is in a bubble that is already in the process of deflating.
What the MSCS at GATech accomplishes is four-fold :
- Lowering the cost of the degree by almost an order of magnitude compared to the same degree as similarly-ranked schools
- Making the degree available without relocation to where the institution is physically located
- Scaling the degree to an eventual intake of 10,000 students, vs. just 300 that can attend a traditional in-residence program at GATech
- Establishing best practices for other departments at GATech, and other institutions, to implement in order to create a broader array of MOOC degree programs
After a slow start, enrollment now is reported to be over 3300 students, representing a significant fraction of students presently studying MS-level computer science at equal or higher ranked schools. The only reason enrollment has not risen all the way up to the full 10,000 is due to insufficient resourcefulness in shopping around and implementing ATOM principles to greatly increase one's living standards through ATOM means. Aside from perhaps the top two schools like MIT and Stanford, there is perhaps no greater value for money than the GATech MSCS, which will become apparent as the slower adopters drift towards the program, particularly from overseas.
Eventually, the sheer size of enrollment will rapidly lead to GATech becoming a dominant alumni community within computer science, forcing other institutions to catch up. When this competition lowers costs even further, we will see one of the most highly paid and future-proof professions being accessible at little or no cost. When contrasted to the immense costs of attending medical or law school, many borderline students will pursue computer science ahead of professions with large student debt burdens, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of ever-more computer science and ATOM propagation. The fact that one can enroll in the program from overseas will attract many students from countries that do not even have schools of GATech's caliber (i.e. most countries), generating local talent despite remote education.
Crucially, this is strong evidence of how the ATOM always finds new ways to expand itself, since the field most essential to the feeding of the ATOM, computer science, is the one that found a way to greatly increase the number of people destined to work in it, by attacking both cost thresholds and enrollment volumes. This is not a coincidence, because the ATOM always finds a way around anything that is inhibiting the growth of the ATOM, in this case, access to computer science training. Subsequent to this, the ATOM can increase the productivity of education even in less ATOM-crucial fields medicine, law, business, and K-12, since the greatly expanded size of the computer science profession will provide entrepreneurs and expertise to make this happen. This is how the ATOM captures an ever-growing share of the economy into rapidly-deflating technological fundamentals.
As always, the ATOM AotM succeeds through reader suggestions, so feel free to suggest candidates. Criteria include the size and scope of the disruption, how anti-technology the disrupted incumbent was, and an obvious improvement in the quality of a large number of lives through this disruption.