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Friday, July 1, 2011

The Church and Higher Education: Part 4: Online Education and Its Possibilities

In a Special Article to CNN by Mormon scholars Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring (the son, not the Apostle) suggest that online learning should be emphasized. From "Colleges should stop imitating Harvard":
Many schools . . . need to refocus on teaching undergraduates. . . .It won't be easy for universities . . . [Regarding online learning] even the most talented faculty members may see it as a tool for not only cheapening the student learning experience but also putting them out of business.
It's true that online learning represents an industrial revolution in higher education. It offers the means to grant certifications and degrees to the masses of qualified would-be students who can't afford to stop working and relocate to a traditional campus.
But this industrial revolution in higher education will also bring a learning renaissance on the campus. Aided by instructional designers and computer specialists, good teachers can create learning experiences online that aren't possible in the classroom but which make the face-to-face learning better when the students get to class. . . the new learning technology will enhance that professor's impact and reach.
"Going to college" will take on new meaning. More students will do it, though not all of them will be on a traditional campus all the time. Courses will be hybrids of the best online and face-to-face learning experiences. . . College will become a better bet than ever.
Living on your own with roomates has been part of the traditional college experience. These experiences and skills can be learned in different environments as well. It doesn't have to occur exclusively in higher education.


As I've pondered how the Internet and online learning can change our world, I've concluded that it is now possible to gain knowledge and other skills outside the traditional college environment.


 I think in the future it will be more important what knowledge and skills we have and not what environment we acquired it in. If we can demonstrate we know enough to do a job and have the skills to do it where we obtained it won't be so important.


I don't think higher education is adapting fast enough to this reality.

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