Too digital too soon?

More universities are deploying MOOC programs for students to access from their homes.

More universities are deploying MOOC programs for students to access from their homes.

Imagine if you could obtain a college degree without ever leaving the comfort of your home. Early morning lectures and frantic finals weeks would be a thing of the past (there would no frat parties either, but that’s a different story altogether). More universities across the United States and Canada are launching digital degree programs, allowing students to access college coursework on classroom software without ever having to step foot on campus. But with many schools still unsure of how well digital stacks up against traditional teaching, are colleges going too digital too soon?

Universities invest in digital content
We’ve all been hearing about massive open online courses (MOOCs) for some time now. Early trailblazers, like the University of Phoenix, have had to defend the value of their degrees. Now some of the most prestigious universities on the planet are getting on board. Online course provider Coursera recently announced that five of its courses have been approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) for “credit equivalency.” This means that students who complete those five courses can receive college credit from more than 1,800 ACE universities.

The five courses are being offered by Duke, the University of California – Irvine and the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. This is just the beginning, as Coursera and ACE may approve more courses within the next year. Students of the future could gain college credit from Ivy League schools on the cheap. With tuition fees soaring, this comes as welcome news to anyone looking to put themselves or their kids through college in the next decade.

Too soon for MOOCs?
But TechCrunch’s Gregory Ferenstein doesn’t think colleges are ready to move to online content. Ferenstein agreed that there is evidence to suggest the MOOC format can be successful. For instance, some studies have found that students engaging partially or fully online courses tend to perform better than those who take the same course in a classroom. However, he cautioned, without a proper trial period, MOOCs could blow up in educators’ faces. Many pilot programs perform well on a small scale, especially in highly regulated experiments, but things can get a little messy when educators try to recreate those results with a larger audience. Especially when the change that will affect entire educational system comes at that staggering speed.

What do you think? Are universities going digital too soon? Would you prefer to take a course online or in the classroom? Tell us what you think in the comment section below, or contact us directly on our Facebook page!

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.