Harvard University announced that next academic year will be 100% online.

And the tuition won’t be a dime cheaper.

Why does it matter?

I don’t want to question the worthiness of such an investment. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if you’ll loose some of your returns by switching from the Harvard University halls to your web browser.

When you give $50.000 to a University like Harvard, you’re paying for a bunch of stuff. Mainly:

  • Prestige
  • The network (your network is your net worth, right?)
  • Learning, obviously

How will the new experience impact these aspects?

The prestige will stay intact. You can show off your Harvard badge on LinkedIn without having to specify where you studied.

I don’t think that you’ll get exposure to the same network as with physical classes. Human connection is paramount to build strong social ties. Yes, you can talk to people trough Zoom and stuff. But let’s stop hiding: Zoom is a poor quality proxy for face to face interaction. Hopefully when Covid will be over students will catch up with the social interactions they missed.

Let’s talk about learning now.

For years, online learning has been seen as a “second choice” learning format. Yes, it’s more comfortable and democratic than “real” university learning, but at the cost of some quality. I have to admit, I was guilty myself of this bias a few years ago.

By changing medium without touching its price tag, Harvard changed the game. Harvard stated loud and clear that online learning is still learning. And it’s worth as much.

This is a huge win for people like me that work hard to create the best online educational content possible.

This legitimates online learning. It acknowledges that the medium does not devaluate the knowledge, passion and teaching skills of the teacher.

Among all the change that Covid has brought to our lives, some will stick forever. Once the stigma around online learning will be gone, we’ll be left with a more democratic way of learning.

Who has something to teach will be free of sharing his experience without fear. Who wants to improve herself will be free to do so without the entry barriers of the Harvard halls.

And my biggest wish of all: companies will treat people that built their education online with the same respect of who spent $200.000 to sit in Harvard’s classrooms.

Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments - Nikola Tesla