Blended Learning, Domestic, Education Quality, Faculty, MOOCs, Open Source Education, Opinion, Personalized Learning, Required, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Thursday, January 3, 2013 7:17 - 0 Comments

Duke Engineering Dean Tom Katsouleas: Will Online Courseware Kill Off American Universities?

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Tom Katsouleas, Dean of Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, writes in Forbes about whether online courseware will cause the death of universities. He reveals some fascinating viewpoints on the role of MOOCs and how they impact universities & society. Katsouleas has been the Chair of the National Academy of Engineering’s Advisory Committee on Engineering Grand Challenges for the 21st Century.

Katsouleas writes:

…Yogi Berra said predictions are hard, “especially about the future.”  With that in mind there are a couple of perspectives to take from predictions in old issues of Popular Science or Scientific American:  futurists always over-estimate how soon new technology will manifest and researchers in the field always underestimate it. The bottom line, though, is that while online education poses a challenge for universities, they will ultimately improve them.

I’d like to offer a couple of metaphors for higher education today.  One is to celebrate the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) like the onset of the textbooks coupled with public libraries.  In theory, this opened the totality of human knowledge to everyone.  In reality though, a lot of knowledge is stored in the minds of scholars pushing the edges of their fields.  Which means that at the PhD level, research universities play the roles of powering innovation and passing their knowledge on to the next generation.  But those roles are subsidized by the undergraduate and Masters education that pays the salaries of the faculty.

It is at the Masters level that traditional universities will first feel the effect of MOOCs.  In our visits to corporate partners like Apple and Cisco, it was clear that most top engineers and executives are using MOOCs for their lifelong learning in a way that some used to use corporate sponsored masters programs. Although universities provide individual and team project-based learning that are still difficult to replicate online, a Masters education can be taken anywhere.

What about undergraduate education?  The undergraduate period is the time when one discovers one’s place in the world, what it means to be human and develops a sense of joy for the life of the mind.  Online education will allow universities to do that even better:  for one, they will provide a way for the best teachers to be recognized and promoted for something other than just research, a long time concern in the APT process at research universities.  And by moving lecturing online, MOOCs allow in-person time to be more interactive, dynamic and valuable…

Via Forbes

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2013-01-08 16:00

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