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Online universities - is higher education facing its MP3 moment?

(11 Posts)
NamingOfParts Sat 29-Dec-12 21:08:55

Anyone offering distance learning courses really needs to match the way that a course is offered with the needs of the students. Simply filming a lecture and putting it on the internet does not an online course make.

You dont have to (and shouldnt) take a single approach. Different elements of the course can be synchronous (eg a remote tutorial) and asynchronous (eg a web based pre-recorded presentation). In this type of approach, the lecture probably isnt the centre-piece. It is a much more ensemble work. You need someone to direct the programme but it will be presented in a number of different ways.

I did a postgraduate diploma in on-line and distance education through the OU. Though it was an interesting course I was very surprised at how behind the times the OU was both in the technologies it used and in the way it presented the course.

It was very old school with heavy reliance on text and live phone tutorials. I was shocked and disappointed as I had thought this would be a flagship course. As a result I didnt carry on with the third and final year to make it a Masters as I couldnt really see the point.

I can see that distance learning courses could open up access to Higher Education. Universities could mix and match with attended and distance elements. It is time to move away from the rigid 3 year degree courses with great big holidays.

raininginsuburbia Thu 27-Dec-12 17:38:39

The universities are looking at things like biometric monitoring due to the pressure put on them by the UK Border Agency to make sure that their foreign students really are students and not immigrants looking for a dodgy way into the country. The universities have to prove that the students are attending lectures and are not out working.

What happened to the London Met scared the hell out of every university in the UK that has significant numbers of foreign students.

I think online learning really could make a huge difference to HE. It might be devastating to a lot of our lower-tier universities though. Why pay a minimum of £7.5K a year plus accomodation costs if you can get the same degree for a fraction of the price from home? Or from a more prestigious US-based university?

nooka Thu 27-Dec-12 17:38:23

I've done a few free courses, usually consisting of webinars, and I am currently doing an online professional course. The free courses were mostly plugs for paying courses, and pretty much a waste of time, the online course is I think money for old rope, as there is very little I'd describe as teaching.

I much prefer traditional courses because of the student interaction (at post graduate/professional level anyway) the only reason I'm studying online is my location (nothing available within four hours drive).

It's interesting that the article mentions Stanford, as I've 'taken' online courses from them (in fact I only really signed up because it was Stanford) and to be frank they weren't very good. I listened to two webinars/lectures and they were pretty run of the mill. I'll not be wasting my time with any more.

My online course on the other hand is little better than reading the text book alone and sitting the exam, and I'm only really paying for it because it's the only way I can sit the exam locally. It's the same cost as the in person course, so it must be a great money spinner for the college as twice the number of students are signed up.

I don't think either are really education. The TED lecture series might be more in that ball park.

DolomitesDonkey Thu 27-Dec-12 17:07:32

Erm, Harvard, MIT, Oxbridge et al have been doing online for years.

ReallyTired Thu 27-Dec-12 17:04:38

The OU offers a high standard of education to those who find it hard to access traditional unis. I have met many OU graduates in well paid jobs. The OU does particularly well in postgraduate courses where people do not have the time or the money to be a full time student.

"However, I do accept that if a prestigious brand like Oxbridge or Harvard offer a proper online degree course then it could take off. "

See [[ coursea] or edX

Prehaps these online resouces can be used for blended learning to keep costs down and allow the student to dicate the speed that they learn. Ie. someone can complete a degree in philosophy in 2 years by studying through out the holidays.

Long term funding is an issue. It takes money to create high quality up to date learning materials.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 22-Dec-12 21:39:05

Damn, I was hoping that this would be something to do with students becoming more student centric especially as several large unis have alledgidly installed biometric scanners to make sure that students are attending lectures.

BoffinMum Sat 22-Dec-12 08:17:21

You're looking at two different products - niche finishing school product (face to face degree) versus knowledge development product (MOOC). One will develop people holistically, the other will emphasise factual knowledge. Both can run in parallel if universities want them to. But the human touch will always command a premium,

TotallyBS Sat 22-Dec-12 08:08:44

The OU has existed for decades so it is hardly the new kid on the block. Yet the only people I've met with OU degrees are people who were mature students at The time.

However, I do accept that if a prestigious brand like Oxbridge or Harvard offer a proper online degree course then it could take off.

SavoirFaire Fri 21-Dec-12 23:32:50

With some certainty, I can tell you that this is occupying a lot of the senior management of our most prominent universities. And your point about OU is wrong, sorry. In fact, OU is well placed to take very good advantage of the future face of university education.

this is a good overview. It's a bit jargony but you'll get the point. Which is that everyone is working on how to do MOOC. Because the universities that don't will be the ones that fail.

TotallyBS Wed 19-Dec-12 16:26:47

Has the Open University changed the way we study for degrees? Well, I don't recall seeing the OU on the recent list of 'top people' and where they were educated.

Studying for a degree is more than just listening to a lecturer either in person or online. Otherwise the Open University model would be more popular.

breadandbutterfly Wed 19-Dec-12 10:27:34

Fascinating article:

What impact will the growth in free online higher education courses have on our universities? Will they still appeal to students as their fees rise yet the USP of what they offer reduces as free courses from top unis increase? Could this spell the end for traditional undergraduate degrees?

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