Elite Campuses Trying to Figure Out What to Do with Online Education?

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a featured article focusing on the online education approaches that elite colleges and universities are considering.  Basically the article describes three strategies.

  1. Free online courses for everyone.

Develop or acquire MOOCs and other free, non-credit online courses that will be offered separate from a residential degree program. Even if the MOOCs lose money, wealthier universities can afford them — especially if it means increasing their visibility in overseas markets. There appears little interest in MOOC courses that translate into academic credit at these institutions (or anywhere else).

  1. Paid online courses for professional graduate programs.

Yale University recently unveiled a new master’s program for aspiring physician’s assistants, offered through its medical school. The program will also involve a lot of fieldwork, but much of the academic coursework will be delivered online. It is the second program Yale has created along these lines; the other is a partially online doctoral degree in nursing, which the university announced in 2011.  Online degrees in fields like health care and teaching are also in high demand.  Online does not fundamentally threaten the appeal of graduate-level professional programs, where the “student experience” is not as sacrosanct as it is at undergraduate colleges. Most people who enroll are working adults who already went through dorm life, student organizations, and late-night philosophical chats with fellow students.

  1. Adding Online components to face-to-face (blended models) undergraduate courses.

Take advantage of high quality online course content (MOOC or otherwise) and add these components to face-to-face courses.  In my opinion, this blended model is where the future is for quite awhile for most of higher education.

Those of us at the public universities, the community colleges, and the tuition-driven private non-profit colleges who have been doing a lot of online and blended learning for almost two decades wish our colleagues well.



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