a "great dark wave climbing over the green lands and above the hills, and coming on, darkness unescapable. I often dream of it." Faramir to Eowyn in the LOTR.
Those who see the coming of the MOOC as the stroke of doom might see that dark wave in Georgia Tech's announcement of a planned online Masters degree in Computer Science, delivered by MOOC, via Udacity. Now online degrees aren't a novelty. Arizona State, a couple of notches below GA Tech on the academic heap, offers some 60 of them, including an MS in electrical engineering, and the for profit University of Phoenix has been in the business for a few decades.
What is new in the MOOC world are the economies of scale stemming from a lot of the work being done by robots. The Ga Tech MS is supposed to be priced under $7000. For comparison, by my computation, tuition alone for ASU's BA in Art History (now there's a marketable skill) would run about $60,000.
Other people who have to be seeing the competition gaining on them have to be Coursera and edX. The founders of Udacity are hard chargers from Google and Stanford, so they need to be taken very seriously. In the meantime, how about schools that offer nothing but the priviledge of being exposed to their faculty? Yale and Princeton are too stingy to even give you an acknowledgement of course attendance, much less a certificate.
Put up or shut up time is coming to higher ed.