During a presentation at the Technonomy conference in San Francisco last week, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said online learning can shrink the cost of higher education by eroding the need for place-based instruction, The Hill reports. “College, except for the parties, needs to be less place-based,” he said, adding that moving more learning activities online can bring down the soaring cost of a college degree. “Only technology can bring [college tuition] down, not just to $20,000, but to $2,000,” he said, citing price tags as high as $50,000 for a year of college.  Gates predicted that technology soon could make place-based learning five times less important for college and university students. But for students in elementary and high school, Gates said he did not foresee online education shaking up the traditional framework anytime soon. “I do not predict some radical change in that,” he said. “K-12 is partly about babysitting the kids so the parents can do other things.” Still, he said, technology would allow half the students in a class to be occupied with one activity while others are learning something entirely different. He also hailed charter schools for looking for ways to use technology to enhance their offerings. “Thank God for charters,” he said. “There’s no room for innovation in the standard system.”

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