Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Changing Face of Education: Boon or Bane?

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Brick and mortar campuses, well manicured lawns, blackboards, desks, laboratories, library, study room, and common rooms. These are things we usually associate schools and colleges with. However, ask students now what springs to mind the first time they hear the word college, you’ll hear words like computers, laptops, internet, applications, online study forums, tabs and smartphones. The definition of education is slowly changing. As a former educator, I feel like an alien when students say ‘I Googled it’, instead of ‘I looked it up in the library’ or ‘I’ll catch you on Skype if I have queries’ instead of ‘I’ll meet you if I have any queries.’ So basically, not matter how much we may like or dislike it, there is no denying the fact that technology has invaded the world of education and is taking it by storm.

MOOCs instead of formal college education: Educators’ point of view

Recently, government officials and university leaders from the five continents got together to discuss and debate the changing face of education at the Princeton-Fung Global Forum in Paris. The main focus was on whether online education platforms are posing as a threat to society and academia.

While Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy and chair of the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University, described the entire MOOC world as a nightmarish scenario, Daphne Koller, Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and co-founder of Coursera, described that very world as the future of global education.

According to Rosen, the MOOC World that provides college courses at a lesser price and more conveniently, makes the students pay a price as big as forsaking one on one interaction with their teachers. Imagine the teacher not even knowing the student’s name. That certainly is a tragedy. He also asked parents whether they want something like that for their children.
“The worst-case scenario is that the scholar becomes a genuinely rare bird.” – Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy and chair of the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University.
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Counter question

On the other hand you have professors from various universities who simply want us to see how pleasant the scenario is. Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera, points out how thousands of students, from all around the world, are benefiting from MOOCs. She agrees that online course certificates don’t carry the same value as college diplomas but she also adds that soon the employers will start accepting them.

William Lawton, director of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, London says that these courses do not affect the core worth of higher education but may pose as a commercial threat to universities. He also maintains that the future is blended, which means that higher education institutions will use the best of both worlds.

In my opinion, MOOCs may just be the right thing for the future for higher education as long as it does not provide students with bad or wrong information. If a person can cut costs, do a job and study at the same time, then I’m sure it’s for the better of humanity.

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