Why Online Learning Is Bad For Students

Whether you’re worried about how to fund college, don’t have access to a physical campus, or are wondering why the learning experience is in such a crisis, then enrollment in online learning may be worth considering. Unfortunately, online learning has a pitfall associated with it that has many experts recommending against enrolling in a course via a virtual student center.

Why Online Learning Is Bad For Students

Online education is highly susceptible to impersonal, expensive and commoditized learning tools.

Perhaps this perception is further evidence of what critics like Ev Gartner have termed the “arrogance of the MBA.”)

Online education is highly susceptible to impersonal, expensive and commoditized learning tools.

Like many things online these days, online education is also very trendy. “As the cost of one’s education is raised,” the Financial Times opined in January, “opportunities to learn, especially for the most disadvantaged, are less and less viable.”

Many businesses view the whole idea of building a campus structure as a “sacred cow” that will stand the test of time but not too many businesses seek to put their names on a building that will achieve that goal. Fewer still seek to “build a campus” on a specific set of core competencies that will last through multiple generations of employees.

Instead, many institutions, educators and textbook publishers feel comfortable focusing on primarily teaching skills. But if that’s the only emphasis then costs can only skyrocket and the skills will be of declining value.

It’s tempting to remain comfortably entrenched in legacy modes that have worked well for us in the past but it’s clear that we have entered a new era. As digital technology evolves, many of the best and brightest of tomorrow are seeing education on the web as a transformative opportunity and we must remember that when a new era comes, everyone old and new wants to be in it.

Why Coursera, and Why You?

The opportunity online education presents is immense. According to a joint study by Georgetown and Duke universities, 34 million college students in 40 countries have taken a course online through non-profit institution The Khan Academy. Just by looking at the market however, we can see there’s no question online education is hot.

I believe those were the words of Michael Vann, CEO of Coursera. Vann defined Coursera as a company “that curates the world’s best online education for the world’s best learners.”

Coursera’s mission is to provide free access to the world’s top professors and answer “where we’re failing and find the path forward.” This mission, he said, is “something we’ve really worked hard to do. From the very beginning, we’ve always tried to teach and learn from every student we can.”

Coursera is a massive open online course (MOOC) platform that allows anyone to learn free from top professors with a reputation the world over. As we covered previously, Coursera offers over 2,500 courses from the world’s top universities, universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, University of Cambridge, Yale, IE Universita Europe, Dublin City University and many, many more.

Your choice

Online learning is great. So great that the market is clearly pushing the market forward. Conventional universities are offering their own alternative courses online. Universities are making an investment in MOOCs. You can find these courses on any number of websites.

But there’s another cost element that online education is not always about. Professors from traditional universities and MOOCs alike don’t always agree. This means that a majority of online courses do not always qualify as educational best practices.

Learning experiences are subjective.

Coursera’s mission is to “maximize access to our world-class online education for the world’s best learners.” But who is right here?

As a result, Coursera is deciding to implement a new approach to the degree and certificate programs that are part of its current portfolio. Coursera has concluded that college specific programs and certificate programs that provide a traditional value proposition based on classes, admissions requirements and degrees from prestigious institutions is more a piece of the puzzle than its core mission.

Coursera joins Carnegie Mellon, the University of Tennessee, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Kentucky, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Wisconsin-Extension in deciding that, given the increased demand for online courses and graduation rates that increased with the advent of the e-textbook, they no longer see online degree programs as a ticket to elite institutions.

Similarly, Princeton Review recently changed its policy and plans to no longer review student transcripts for online courses and graduate level programs.

Expecting an ivy league degree from a university that doesn’t open the doors to ALL candidates does a disservice to students. And you can’t expect an online degree to substitute for a physical education or degree program that only a physical institution will certify or issue.

For those of us who have long maintained that the future of higher education is online, Coursera’s move is a worrying development. In essence, Coursera is ceding its leadership position and market position in online education to a different leader.

We see the MOOC game as a long game. And this is why it is

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