Why online classes won’t replace the classroom


When Stanford president John Hennessey told the New Yorker in April 2012, “There’s a tsunami coming,” he wasn’t forecasting the next undersea earthquake, The Fiscal Times reports. Rather, he predicted a seismic collision between academia’s cost and availability. After David Brooks borrowed the metaphor for a New York Times op-ed, “tsunami” became synonymous with the rise of the MOOC (massive open online courses). These massive open online courses gained celebrity as hundreds of thousands of students joined and credibility as dozens of big name schools agreed to offer online adaptations of their classes free, though without credit. So last fall, when Colorado State University’s Global Campus became the first American university to announce plans to grant credit for MOOCs, the earthquake threatened to rumble and the tsunami looked set to roll. Students could take an introductory computer programming course hosted by the MOOC platform Udacity and pay for a proctored exam at one of Pearson VUE’s testing centers.

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