William G. Bowen has written an interesting article about online learning in EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 48, no. 5 (September/October 2013). William G. Bowen is President Emeritus of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, President Emeritus of Princeton University, and Founding Chairman of Ithaka/JSTOR. He is also the author of the book Higher Education in the Digital Age:
To realize the potential and promise of online learning (and MOOCs), colleges and universities must be aware of the pitfalls while taking full advantage of the wonderful, if problematic, opportunities provided by ingenuity and technological prowess.
In his article he discusses 8 propositions:
- We need to distinguish among target populations.
- Different pedagogies are right for different disciplines.
- A limited degree of "local" customization of online courses is important and should be facilitated.
- It is critically important that we assemble more real evidence, from more rigorous research, concerning the learning outcomes associated with online offerings.
- We must focus self-consciously, and relentlessly, on controlling educational costs.
- System-wide thinking is required; many of the most challenging questions for our educational system cannot be addressed on a single-campus basis.
- New thinking is needed on faculty roles and on optimal organizational and decision-making mechanisms.
- Stratification worries deserve much more attention than they receive.
I share his opinion he makes in the final note of the article:
I am optimistic that the world at large will be a far better place because of online learning—and because of MOOCs. But for that to happen, we need to be able to take full advantage of the wonderful, if problematic, opportunities provided by ingenuity and technological prowess. And we must include in our calculations the needs of the less privileged. At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves where all of this is heading and what the real consequences will be—not just for the privileged but for society writ large.
Via: Wilfred Rubens
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