Will free online courses ever replace a college education?

That’s the provocative title of an article in The Atlantic – and I think the mere fact they’re asking it with a straight face shows how far the online education phenomenon has come. The article deals mostly with the influence on online education on conventional teaching methods — the advantages of more video and faster feedback (through computerized grading) – but concludes that, no, online courses won’t actually replace the traditional college education until they “begin offering meaningful credits – the kind someone could take to a job interview and expect to have taken seriously.” Fair enough…for right now. But there is already digital badging, and the talk of post-BA proficiency tests not unlike SATs. So we’re only at the beginning of this trend.

I’m not making the case that universities will be swept away by MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), but it’s significant that major universities like Harvard are participating seriously in MOOCs  and applying some of the learning to their traditional classroom formats. The overall thrust of the MOOC phenomenon — faster, better, cheaper, more relevant teaching — can only have a salutary effect on the hidebound university industry.

Read the whole article here.



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. Vice President, Zoomer Media Ltd. . Author of "The New Old" . 30 years experience in marketing communications, advertising, media . Speaker, writer, commentator on the revolution in aging and how to market to Boomers and seniors