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Is the future of college online?

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NY Public Library Opens The Grand Salomon Room As
Alvin Harrison works on his computer at the New York Public Library on July 20, 2009 in New York, New York.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

We shop, bank and make friends online, so why not go to college online too? The University of Phoenix has been offering online bachelor's degrees for years at a steep price, but now some of the big-name schools, including Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are offering their classes online for free.

How will online universities change the way we learn, and can we really expect them to replace a traditional college experience?

Kanyi Maqubela, Collaborative Fund entrepreneur in residence, will join The Daily Circuit to discuss the future of online learning.

"There is research that suggests that in-person learning is more effective and I'm not sure what to think about that," he said. "The truth is that the research done on online learning happened when Gmail was in its infancy... The world is changing and our resources are going to have to adapt to that. Our culture is being led by our technology for the first time in a while."

Andrew Ng , computer science professor at Stanford and co-founder of Coursera, will also join the discussion. Coursera is offering the free classes online. 

More from Newsweek:

"Coursera grew out of an experiment Ng and [Daphne] Koller carried out last fall, when each made a class available at no cost online. Ng's class in machine learning drew more than 100,000 enrolled students, 13,000 of whom completed the course. The huge interest convinced Ng and Koller they were onto something. Others agreed, including two of the best venture-capital firms in the valley, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and New Enterprise Associates, which have invested $16 million combined in Coursera.

Coursera doesn't pay its professors, and it has yet to dream up a way to generate revenue, though as Ng says, 'If you're changing the lives of millions of people, there will be a way to make money from that at some point.' One possibility involves charging companies for helping them find qualified job applicants.