[ExI] Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university?

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Jun 9 10:36:12 UTC 2013

On 09/06/2013 03:20, James Clement wrote:
> Publishing, music, shopping, journalism -- all revolutionised by the 
> internet. Next in line? Education.

I think this is an apt comparision. It is not so much that everything 
universities are doing is doomed, but that (1) some segments will be 
seriously changed, and (2) that the business model will have to change. 
I have posted to the list about this topic before, looking at how 
different roles change.

Online courses seem really transformative in the areas where teaching is 
mostly about distributing semantic information and having people 
interact with it, especially if one can automate testing and 
experimentation - mathematics might be a prime example. I am less 
convinced they work for practical procedural skills: not only might it 
be hard to train chemical synthesis or welding this way, doing 
procedural tasks like accounting might be tricky. Similarly evaluation 
difficulties in domains where the output is natural language (like law) 
might be problematic. But these issues are a bit like what goods are 
easy to sell via Amazon - yeah, pets might be less practical than books, 
but that doesn't mean you can't do greats in the non-pet market.

Sitting on the pure research side I am less concerned, of course. Here 
the internet has already transformed things by making everybody within 
the same language sphere accessible to everybody else, and by the 
ongoing earthquakes in scientific publishing. One interesting aspect is 
of course that global collaboration has become easier - not super-easy, 
since keeping momentum when you do not meet in the coffee room all the 
time is tricky - but definitely easier. One of my most productive 
co-authors is 99% of the time in Germany, and it always feels surprising 
to meet him in RL.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford University

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20130609/2142c222/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list