The rising cost of healthcare is a legitimate and very real concern. An aging population, obesity, sophisticated interventions and defensive medicine are just part of the problem that plagues our nation.
- Costs of "essential" services over time
And while healthcare gets a loud voice in the marketplace of ideas, what strikes me as really interesting is the small share of voice that education is getting--particularly, college. The above referenced data are a little old, but the trends still hold. And over the last decade, the cost of a college education has increased by about 50%.
Simply put, a college education is out of reach for many Americans...and American families. But has this emerged as a critical social issue or just another burden put upon the individual and family? Have colleges been called on the carpet? Do these institutions get a pass in cost containment? Or, and perhaps more insidious, are government-insured loans fueling the sky rocketing costs? And today, About $85 billion in U.S. student loan debt, or 10 percent of the outstanding balance, was delinquent as of the third quarter of 2011.
While the benchmarks of American success have always included a college degree. The facts now suggest that the degree may be worth less than ever and the acquired debt necessary to receive your sheepskin, may very well be the financial straw that breaks the camel's back.
Is technology is answer?
The solution is still unclear. But technology certainly seems to be part of the solution--a part, for two essential reasons. The first is the very nature of the college experience. As technology shrinks the globe, is can also transform our campuses from distant ivy-covered building to a rich on-line presence where classes are as close as your digital tablet. The second aspect is the content itself. Imagine the extension of TED lectures to a more traditional educational setting. World-class professors can teach thousands of students, time and time again. The inefficient "class-room" model can go the way of the textbook and become transformed into a powerful digital experience. Gee, I wonder if YouTube will ever be admitted into the Ivy League. (Yes, I know it's really an athletic conference.)