Why Online Courseware Can't Replace A 4-Year Degree

Andrew Grauer, Forbes, Dec 28, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

More techno-scepticism following in the wake of this year's MOOC hysteria. Andrew Grauer argues that online learning will not replace traditional learning until the resolution of "key issues currently plaguing the advancement of online education." All very fine, but the "key issues" he flags are ridiculous:

  • teaching methods to deliver the same lecture experience via your computer as in a live classroom
  • online communities that are sufficiently collaborative yet plagiarism free
  • easily and readily connecting with a professor, tutor or classmate when a question arises during a lecture

The supposition, of course, is that replicating the classroom experience is what online learning should strive toward. But i think we can do rather better than that. To paraphrase an example used in the article, if the skill being learned is how to play golf, taking a class is like being told how to play golf, watching videos is like watching golf, while online learning is like a golf simulation system. Sure, it's not golf - but it's a lot better than a lecture about golf. And that - I might add - is why online learning will replace traditional learning. Not this year. But soon.

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