Online university courses can't change the world alone

Gayle Christensen, Brandon Alcorn, eLearning Technology, Mar 17, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

According to New Scientist, "Ultimately, MOOCs are not by themselves a mechanism for development but require certain levels of education and technology. They are reaching millions of people around the world, but to truly revolutionize access, improvements in the broader education and technology ecosystem are vital." I guess this is true, but would be true of any form of education. Traditional learning, for example, requires a massive global investment in buildings, school bus networks, teacher colleges, and of course, literacy. This is why development in societies where primary education was not sufficient remains such a challenge. Now, our news media could continue to repreat the results of that single Coursera study at UPenn for the rest of all time, or it could broaden its enquire into just what learning and development actually require, what can be provided help people with means and motivation, and what specific interventions are required to provide broad equality of opportunity. Thus far, the media as (alas) taken the easy route.

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