Earlier this month, Michael Mitzenmacher told us about the record number of students attending his Harvard class online-only. Yesterday, Dick Lipton predicted that online learning will replace campus learning : “I see no reason that On [Online Universities] could not do as good a job as Un [Campus Universities] with this basic goal [Educate Students].” In the comments, Lipton questions the importance of credentials and whether social interactions really need the campus.
I have already written much on the topic but let me reiterate my message:
- In this new online world, professors are not content providers. They provide structure and motivation. They are role models. And most importantly, by their reputation, professors can provide certification. If someone gets a reference letter from Michael Mitzenmacher or Dick Lipton, I trust they know something about Computer Science, because I trust Michael Mitzenmacher and Dick Lipton. I suspect it is not easy to get these fellows to write fake reference letters because they have a high degree of independence (job security, good money, and so on) and their greatest asset is their reputation.
- Students are trained to expect classrooms. Many students need structure and constant attention. That is not a good thing! We are effectively training students to be good employees working in large organizations with much structure. Yet, this world made of large and stable organizations has already fallen apart. We urgently need to teach students to learn on their own, using the Web.
- Yes, there will always be campus classes, the same way there will always be physical libraries with actual books, and newspapers printed on paper.
- College students prefer classes with online learning, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Stanford offers 10 free online Computer Science courses
- From online courses to… automated teaching
- Some myths about online teaching
- Why don’t people use university libraries?