The cost of attending a large college or university has risen consistently in recent years. Schools cite their lack of public funding and growing demand as causes for their price hikes. Education is becoming more inaccessible because prospective students can't afford the costs of earning a four-year degree.
Some institutions are actually giving their courses away for free. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford were two of the first schools to allow the public to participate in classes via web conferencing technology. Other universities have followed suit, granting anyone with a high-speed internet connection access to some of their programs.
The Seattle Times reported that most of these schools provide these free classes as a public relations tactic. It does reflect well on institutions to offer classes at no cost, but there are more benefits for the public as well.
Video conferencing lets anyone learn from professors they wouldn't otherwise have had the opportunity to work with. While a bachelor's degree may never be free, more accessible education is always a good thing for people who want to learn.