In a new Minding the Campus essay, Rich Vedder writes about online higher ed and explains why he thinks it will revolutionize post-secondary learning.
In addition to the arguments Rich adduces, I’d like to add one more. Online education would seem to mostly if not completely solve the problem of what Murray Sperber calls “the faculty-student nonaggression pact.” That is to say, the implicit deal that professors often strike with their undergrads: The course won’t be very demanding and the grades will be high, but the prof won’t put much effort into it. I don’t think that modus operandi will remain once online courses have to compete with other online courses. Professors will try to put their best foot forward when preparing talks that will be seen (and commented on) by many students who are looking for a worthwhile educational experience. Shooting the breeze in class about irrelevant things, blathering away with dull, old lectures, ducking out of class early or not meeting at all — none of that will work in the online world.