Thursday, December 02, 2010

Will Universities be Destroyed?

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.

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