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It was the fall of 2011 when Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) became viral. What is it? How cool is that? Is it really for free? Questions like these filled up many young and not-so-young minds as the education system opened its heart and mind to the breakthrough innovation called online education.
Today, online learning has progressed manifold and you need to look no further than some of America’s best universities offering online classes to students, a few miles across the country or even halfway across the world. Take the case of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); the leading college in the US is offering online courses from some of the best and most eminent university professors, making the concept of ‘education for all’ really come to life.
From Cambridge to California, elite colleges and universities are embracing the idea of distance education to reach out to pupils far and wide and get the hang of this new idea of education which is likely to become an essential in the future.
In fact, many college professors even believe it could be a stage of a complete transformation of college education as we see it today.
“Some people, like Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, predict that in as little as 15 years half of the colleges in the United States will be in bankruptcy, upended by online learning and the move to hybrid models in which only select classes are taught in person on campus,” says Alaskan Dispatch, an Alaskan news website.
But many still believe that such a transformation still has a long way to go but will, indeed, be a powerful tool for future learning and teaching.
Amidst all the ado about online learning, one is also reminded of the many challenges that this mode of learning faces. For one, should universities charge for MOOCs? OR should they give credits to students for taking these courses? Does online learning devalue in-person teaching? Does it kill that special experience of on-campus life?
Questions like these have given birth to many hybrid programs offered by universities which offer the best of both worlds in the form of a combination of internet-based classes and on-campus teaching. Universities are also collaborating to form close networks to offer credits to students from participating institutions, such as ‘Semester Online’ launched this fall by a consortium of seven universities on 2U, an educational platform.
With elite colleges like Harvard, MIT, Yale, Duke embracing the platform of online education, distance education students can heave a sigh of relief. After all, following a mode of learning also practiced by the best in the US is nothing small, is it?