Monday, November 29, 2010

Will online lectures destroy universities?

This was written by g siemens

Statements like “universities are obsolete” or “universities are dying” are comical. And untrue. Universities are continuing to grow in enrolment and general influence in society. Calling universities obsolete while we are early on in the so-called knowledge economy is like declaring factories obsolete in the 18th century just as the industrial revolution was taking hold. Utter nonsense. When I read articles like Why free online lectures will destroy universities – unless they get their act together fast I’m generally more amused than informed. The article does make one important point about the value of online lectures – after all, we should record anything that can be captured without a significant loss in value. The broader university role of research and building societal capacity for innovation can’t be ignored. Are universities providing value for learners? To some degree, but dramatic tuition increases have created a higher education bubble. When bubbles burst, however, industries don’t disappear…they generally adjust to a new reality (the US housing bubble hasn’t made home ownership obsolete). But, even then, I maintain that the real challenge facing universities is one of relevance, not obsolescence. Relevance requires a repositioning, not complete elimination. Until we have an elected president or prime minister who was self-taught on TEDTalks or YouTube, universities will continue to play an important role.


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