Adrian Hon writes in the Daily Telegraph about Why free online lectures will destroy universities – unless they get their act together fast. He starts out his post with a statement that will be familiar to every Lecturer in the country:
"university students sit in lectures every day, listening to someone speak for an hour in crowded theatres. Most are daydreaming, checking Facebook, surfing the web, texting and tweeting; if they’re particularly motivated or the lecture is unusually good, some might actually be paying attention"
And he adds...
"At the same time, millions of learners around the world are watching world-class lectures online about every subject imaginable, from fractional reserve banking to moral philosophy to pharmacology, supplied by Harvard, MIT, and The Open University."
|Photo from Daily Telegraph Blog.
So the question is - will universities be destroyed? I was reminded by a colleague today that the bad weather we are experiencing at the moment will not cause on-line classes to be postponed. Why should learning be stopped by a few cms of snow? A major difficulty for both students and lecturers is the perception that (with some exceptions) most College lecturers are "little more than talking textbooks" - why pay a lot of money to go to College when you can get thousands of hours of top-quality lectures from renowned experts from all over the world?
Will the day come when a student can take modules on-line from different courses, different Colleges, and different countries? What about a degree that is made up of a Maths class from Harvard, Finance and Economics classes from the London School of Economics, Technology subjects from MIT, and Project Management from NCI :-). With the technology we have today, the learning experience can be just as good on-line, so that even precious face-to-face contact between teacher and student can be realized without compromising the educational experience.
Yes - this day will come.