E-learning allows universities to reach more people, to improve their teaching and, potentially, to keep costs down. It also offers a way forward for the Western academy, argues John Hennessy
No topic in higher education is more hotly debated today than online education. Much of the conversation and speculation revolves around “massive open online courses” (MOOCs), on which hundreds of thousands of students have enrolled. But MOOCs are just one part of a much broader range of online educational technologies – and perhaps not even the most important part.
Clearly, the extensive deployment of online education is still in its infancy, and it is too soon to predict the outcome from a handful of experiments. But one thing is clear: online education offers tremendous opportunities for universities to improve the way they teach, to reach more students and, potentially, to decelerate the rapid rise in the cost of education relative to family income – which, if unimpeded, will make higher education increasingly inaccessible.
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