Riding in a taxi from Houston Hobby Airport to the ZaZa hotel, I struck up a conversation with the taxi driver, Jose. We talked about traffic and airport location (easy to get confused in Houston and go to the wrong airport) and then we began discussing schools. Houston is home to many educations of higher learning including: Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, the University of Houston, and Rice University to name a few. Jose also indicated that several online schools, including the University of Phoenix, had set up shop and were doing well in the area.
I asked Jose if he had ever taken an online class and he said yes, that he was going to school for computer science and often took online classes. He had his laptop with him in the car and he used it to study and do homework online while at the airport waiting for fares. In the few minutes left until we reached my hotel, I found out that his tuition cost for a recent class was $500 (3-credit course) and that his textbook was $200. I quickly explained about OER (open educational resources) and the Connexions conference I am attending this week (http://conference.cnx.org). I also wrote down on a card the names of the three major MOOC providers: Coursera, Udacity, EdX. These groups often offer classes related to computer science and students can obtain certifications in some classes.
Amazing what can be learned just by a quick conversation in a taxi from the airport to a hotel. I was happy to have the chance to expose Jose to some resources that might help him along his path.