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The end of the we know it

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    Reference: Nathan Harden, The American Interest, January February Issue: The End of the University as We Know It

    "In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it.

    "The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students."

    That's the opening paragraph of Nathan Harden's intriguing article. I won't paraphrase it. It's long but very thought provoking.

    After you have read it we can discuss...for those that are interested.
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    Well, I read every word Schmidt, most interesting. I have to admit that I was on the lookout for, not non-truths, but instances where this simply just wouldn't work. I thought about things like testings, assignments, gradings, and other related issues that the professor (or the school, or whoever would assign grades) has no idea who it is on the other end of the test result or assignment that they have received. Nor would they know that it was the same person(s) each and every time, so how could they ultimately assign a grade number or certificate to any one individual without confirmation that this one individual is the one and only person that they were communicating with during the presentation of this one course?

    As mentioned in the article, this does not include such things as teaching neurosurgery, but what about ANY science or math course. There would be no confirmation of who it was that answered the questions to any exam, nor any actual performing of any laboratory experiments. Lab work was how one actually SAW the results of what one learned in a chemistry lecture, and actually doing this yourself, gives one a fantastic learning advantage over JUST hearing about it.

    Another thing that struck me as very important. Just think about the huge number of individuals that will now be unemployed. Only one professor will be necessary for each course, and that individual's lectures can be recorded and re-played forever, ultimately leading to ZERO professors.

    Many other thoughts came to mind, but I will reserve those for later, after others have commented.
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    Michaels- Good points. I agree with you, especially on the points about laboratories, etc. Also, I know of one very good professor who emphasized teamwork...breaking the class into small teams of three people each to collaborate on their thinking. It emphasized critical thinking on a problem where there was not a clear right or wrong answer. The online courses will have a hard time matching that experience.

    When I worked for my former employer, we built our internal courses around that theme. It recognized that adults learn by "doing" and interacting with other adults on problem solving.

    On the other hand with the online lectures, people can get bored just sitting and watching a lecture on a screen. It seems to me to be not much of an improvement over old style college lectures, which were often more about copious note taking while the professor rambled on and on with little opportunity to catch your breath. Those lectures were more like rote learning by memorization with little opportunity to ask questions or think critically about what is being "taught."

    Nevertheless, considering how many students could not afford taking a lot of these classes, I can certainly see the advantage. But the opportunity for cheating on tests is certainly there unless there was some arrangement with a local school to administer or supervise the testing.

    I see the online courses as a cost effective means of supplementing the campus activity but never replacing it.