Universities See Promise In ‘Disruptive’ Online Courses

Career College Central summary:

  • Last week, the head of Maryland’s university system said higher education needs to embrace disruptive technologies such as massive online courses in an effort to serve more students and contain costs. At the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council annual meeting last week, William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said, "If at the end of the day this means there aren’t as many universities or some people don’t have jobs, you know, this is not a welfare business."
  • Maryland and other university systems have partnered with companies such as Coursera, which makes college classes available online, for free. That has allowed students around the world to tap into top schools in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. But some have worried that it may also be a threat–both to faculty, who could see positions eliminated, and second- or third-tier colleges that could lose enrollment as a result. Mr. Kirwan said educators have to be “brutally honest” about the need to educate more people at a lower cost in an effort to create a better educated, more socially mobile society.
  • Daphne Koller, co-founder and co-CEO of Coursera, and Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, joined Mr. Kirwan for a wide-ranging discussion of tuition costs, technology, online education and competitiveness. Public higher education in U.S. already was in trouble because of massive cutbacks in funding, a factor not caused by massive open online courses, known as MOOCs, she said.

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