MOOCs – causing the downfall of traditional campuses?

In week 2 we are presented with many futuristic visions in videos  – some painting a positive view on ever present information and interactivity in the house, car and at work. Notably they are adverts for Corning Glass and Microsoft . Some others take the more spooky Orwellian “Big Brother” line where we are controlled by the authorities and alternative views are viewed as rebellion and need to be thwarted by all pervasive surveillance technology.

The education angle this week is discussion on the way forward for tertiary education. Are MOOCs a threat to traditional modes of learning on campuses? It is pointed out that learning on campuses has many social and educational benefits from immersion in campus life which just can’t be substituted for by an impersonal online system. In my opinion that is only true for some students. There are high dropout rates in some campuses too, not just in online courses. Some students can’t afford to live on a campus away from home, some miss their social circles or families when they go to institutions far from their homes, some simply can’t afford to drop their jobs to study fulltime. All of these can turn to online education to fulfill their educational needs. A case made well by Clay Shirky is that online learning is here to stay precisely because the traditional campus model doesn’t suit the learning needs of many people. Not least because of the economic cost.

I think it is fantastic that prestigious higher education institutions around the world are offering the MOOCs.  It does offer a path to cutting edge knowledge in fields otherwise closed to so many millions around the world.

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