Most Americans want more online learning, and don’t expect to learn as much
This week’s Time magazine piece on MOOCs is very good. The author was fair and even-handed in identifying strengths and weaknesses both of the current models of higher-education and of MOOCs. I was surprised by the sidebar on the results of a survey by Time and the Carnegie Corporation.
They reported that 68% of the general population believe that “Much of the teaching on college campuses can be replaced by online classes.” (Only 22% of the senior college administrators surveyed agreed with that statement.). 52% of the general population agree that “Students will not learn as much in online courses as they will in traditional courses.” (45% of college leaders agreed.). So the majority believes that courses will go online, and students won’t learn as much. This sounds like evidence for the argument made a while back that quality isn’t really a critical variable in decision-making about higher education. Completion rates and cost are two of the most critical variables in the Time piece.
The article says the economic burden of higher education is so great now, something has to change.
I was optimistic after reading the Time coverage — MOOCs could lead to positive changes in all of higher education. If MOOC completion is going to be accredited, it will have to be tested. If face-to-face colleges are going to demonstrate that they have greater value, they will want to show that they lead to testable performance, at least as good as MOOCs. The demand for better tests might lead to education research to develop more and better assessment methods. Actually measuring learning in higher education classes could be a real step forward, in terms of providing motivation to improve learning against those assessments — for both MOOCs and for face-to-face classes.