A revolution in education has been promised with a little help from technology. Massive Open Online Courses are free, online, university-level instruction that anyone can access from anywhere, at least in theory. They have dominated headlines in the sector in recent years.
Proponents have made bold claims for a fundamental change in higher education—drastically decreasing price and increasing access. Thomas Friedman, in an article in the New York Times, argued that nothing has greater potential to “lift more people out of poverty” and to “unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems.” Anant Agarwal, founder of MOOC provider edX, believes they are making education “borderless, gender-blind, race-blind, class-blind, and bank account–blind.”
However, skeptics counter that they may make colleges more exclusive and exacerbate educational inequalities: Affluent students will use the online courses to augment teaching on campus while the less fortunate will be stuck with automated online instruction with little personal guidance.