Anya Kamenetz Author, Fast Company Writer, Educational Futurist
The Open Courseware movement, which got started with MIT’s Open Courseware in 2001, has really caused people to question exactly what it is that the university is offering because there are digital versions of teaching that are available now online for free. Watching a video lecturer may not be the same thing as attending a class, but where is the added value of being in the class? Is there a way to provide that [value] that is cheaper and more efficient if we outsource the job of creating a syllabus and presenting the information in a certain way? That has been done a million times. It’s being done in a thousand institutions across the country and yet, they reinvent the wheel every single time. You know, is there a way to introduce these kinds of economies of scale that other industries have seen?
And that has actually been done. There is a great institution called the National Center for Academic Transformation that has come into schools with tens of thousands of students and redesigned courses to save significant amounts of money using technology and improved student outcomes at the same time.
So, there is a lot of low hanging fruit out there, but we haven’t seen really the motivation from institutions to, necessarily, use technology to drive down the costs - at least not in the traditional chapters of higher education.
Rob Wrubel Chief Marketing & Product Development Officer, Apollo Group
Everybody up and down the line now knows that they have to add an online modality to serve their current student base, because, by the way, this is what most 18- to 22-year-olds do all the time is spend time online. This is the modality. They know. They understand this. This is their vernacular. It's not to sit in large rooms filled with books. We believe that's very exciting. But to me, that's the problem of nostalgia.
And so I think you've seen more and more of these universities move into online, whether it's the elite research and private universities or the state universities or ultimately the community colleges having to do this to serve a broader and bigger population.
E-learning is changing the way many students experience a traditional university environment. Some examples of colleges utilizing e-learning include:
- University of Maryland-University College (UMUC): Students can substitute some traditional classes for online lessons. Some programs can even be completed entirely online. Students also have 24-hour access to the library and technical support.
- Nova Southeastern University: This school in Florida offers credit-granting courses online including psychology and business administration [source: Nova Southeastern University].
- The University of Texas: This university system had more than 77,000 students taking online courses during the 2009-2010 school year [source: U.S. News Online Education Search].
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