drag2share: Online Courses Have Reached A Turning Point That Should Seriously Scare Colleges


Jun 11, 2013

Eric Lander MIT biology

Colleges around the country should be worried. The quality of online courses is catching up fast.

Depending on whom you talk to, MOOCs (massively open online courses) will upend and democratize higher education, or are half-baked approximations of lectures that can never equal the classroom.

Kevin Carey, the director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation put it to the test, spending four months taking two MOOCs, from start to finish.

One, a Coursera Introduction to Philosophy was everything critics dislike, he says. Too brief, and with none of the problem sets, essays, or tests that make sure you absorb and apply the information.

The second, an MIT introductory biology course hosted by edX, was an entirely different animal.

“Live and taped lectures really aren’t the same. Live lectures are definitely worse,” Carey said.

After taki! ng the c ourse, Carey admits that while not every course can transition online for less money and at a higher level of quality than what most students experience, the amount that can is “a lot more than people realize or want to admit”

That’s going to lead to a lot of disruption, and many lost jobs. But there’s a lot of upside, as well.

The course managed to respond to the biggest criticisms of the skeptics.

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