A quick assessment of the massive amounts of debt facing students and the financial hardship most professors have to endure – it becomes pretty clear that the education system in this country could use some help. There was a time when education was approached differently. Namely in the way that professors were paid a livable wage, expected to teach effectively, and students were able to pay a fair price to get the chance to learn from qualified instructors.
The current education landscape may look a bit bleak at first glance, but where some see hardship, founders see opportunity. Robert Skiff, founder and CEO of Oplerno has developed an online learning platform that could very well shake up the education sector and introduce a little fairness back into higher education’s financials.
Achieving quality by offering choice and control
Skiff’s Vermont-based startup got the green light from the state’s board of education and is officially a qualified and recognized for-profit college that offers courses online. Oplerno is approaching online education from a very different perspective though. The institution’s mission is to empower students by providing more competitive alternatives to expensive courses in more traditional learning systems. Oplerno offers classes that will be of interest and of practical use to a wide range of students, while empowering the professors teaching the courses.
In other words, Oplerno realized that if professors had more control over their courses and they were paid fairly, (profs get between 80 to 90% of the course fees students pay), students would ultimately benefit too. Giving professors ownership of their courses works out for students because the professors who create and teach the most useful courses, in a style that works well for students, will (in theory) achieve the most success. Class sizes cap at 25 students, but professors can set the price and size of their courses within those parameters.
Oplerno’s model appears to be based on the idea that giving both students and professors higher levels of choice and control will ultimately increase the quality of the experience for everyone involved. That’s a pretty revolutionary idea if you think about it.
Oplerno has a set of summer courses open for enrollment now. Potential students can check out the courses being offered, compare prices, and touch base with the professors before deciding to opt in to a class. Some of the more eye-grabbing courses being offered are The Psychology of Happiness, Narrative Report Writing for Security and Police Personnel, and Introduction to Language as a Social Practice.
Those particular classes are being offered for $500 each. Oplerno’s perspective is pretty revolutionary but the platform’s interface and features offer students an experience on par with current industry standards. Classes are taught online and “classrooms” are equipped with live chats, and audio, video, and text file-sharing. The platform may be standard but paying professors fairly is anything but. Oplerno may be just what higher education needed – a little fairness in the form of new technology.