Recently, universities are being painted with a too-broad brush that equates all forms of higher education into a single model of archaic practice while reducing all elements of the campus experience to only the classroom. The truth is more complex. Universities have been experimenting with distance delivery and digital media in and out of the classroom for quite some time and have insight to offer when it comes to operational models, course delivery platforms, and current use of courseware technology and pedagogical tools.
Meanwhile, MOOCs are also depicted too reductively: Proponents tout the cost-savings and reach, detractors scream about completion rates and credentials. More realistically, there are several instances where a MOOC-based delivery model is ideal, where a campus-based solution is infeasible or not economical, or where a blend of the two models can achieve something where either approach can’t individually realize — the so-called “flipped classroom” being one much-touted example.
Too much of the public discourse on the value of higher education is driven by staid understanding of universities as degree mills that are easily replaced by online counterparts. But there is tremendous value in a campus, and universities would be well served to emphasize it and support its underlying activities. Likewise, MOOCs and other online education platforms need to recognize these factors to truly add or complement their vaue. We need to be careful here, or we really will end up with a situation where there are, as famously predicted, only 10 universities left in the world. Or we end up with a bunch of isolated online courses without a shared culture.