Who educates the average students?

October 12, 2009 at 5:43 pm 1 comment

Interesting piece at The Chronicle of Higher Education: Free Online Courses, at a Very High Price. Here’s the quote that particularly caught my eye:

…David Wiley, open education’s Everywhere Man, who set up the Utah venture and is now an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University. A newspaper once likened him to Nostradamus for claiming that universities risked irrelevance by 2020.

The studies that I’ve seen suggest that on-line courses have withdraw-or-failure rates at least 50% higher than face-to-face courses.  What we know about aptitude-treatment interaction and student retention suggests that it’s the lower-ability student who is more likely to be dropping out.  The high ability students (those who had access to great high schools and other opportunities) will succeed.  If Universities become irrelevant by 2020, and only on-line courses are available, who will teach the “everyone else” students?  In an on-line-only higher-education world, we really will be using higher-education in America to perpetuate the gap between the haves and have-nots.

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