Could Online Education Be the End of the Typical College Experience?
By Kate Freeman
January 17, 2013
No one ever recalls their online education experience with as much fondness as those remembering their college dorm years.
San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif., is piloting a new program to offer remedial classes online. The university is partnering with Silicon Valley start-up Udacity, an online education platform. At first, the program will let in around 300 students and offer only three courses, but there’s a possibility this online education for first-year classes could expand to all California state schools if it’s a success. The California State University system is the largest university system in the U.S., so the college experience for future students could potentially be drastically different.
As the New York Times noted, California Governor Jerry Brown has been pushing schools to adopt online classes as a way to make education more affordable for students. CSU Chancellor Timothy White tells the Sacramento Bee that these online courses can expand access to popular “bottleneck” courses, entry-level courses that are required for students to move on to classes for majors.
Dr. Katherine Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise, a company that offers education counseling and tutoring for students, tells Mashable this may be the California State University school system’s first major foray into online education, but other universities and organizations instituted online courses some time ago.
“Distance learning has been taken to a whole new level in recent years with the introduction of MOOCs (massive open online courses) taught by well-respected professors from revered universities, including Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web,” she says.
These online education companies give people unprecedented access to higher learning, she continues. Students from anywhere in the world can get access to classes at Ivy League universities at a much more affordable rate.
But what’s missing is the typical college experience, in which students, now legal adults, get to have more independence outside their parents’ homes and move into dorms or campus housing. With online classes, students could continue to live at home with their parents in order to save money on living expenses.
“Now, there’s certainly something to be said for the college experience,” Cohen said. “College is where students build their social and professional networks, ones they will rely upon throughout the rest of their lives. Students living on campus also tend to mature much more quickly, as they take on new responsibilities and maintain a new level of independence. These are aspects of the college experience that can get lost in a large, virtual college classroom.”
TechCrunch predicts that, if successful, this pilot program will spell an end for community colleges, part-time teaching faculty and, eventually, graduate programs, since teaching jobs could dry up. It ends with a small number of students actually receiving face-time with professors.
As more universities add online courses, do you think the typical college experience will change for the better or worse?