Will online education render traditional college obsolete?

Tim Goral's picture
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Technological change has made online coursework very competitive with the traditional means of teaching. Will it lead to dramatic change in college, or have only a minor impact? Consider the analogy to music.

From the dawn of time until the early 20th century, when people wanted to hear music, they either had to play it themselves or go to a performance where someone else played. All music was live. Then the technology for recording and reproducing music developed.

Primitive at first, the technology rapidly improved (remember that old commercial, “Is it live, or is it Memorex?”) and today humans spend far more time listening to recorded music than to live performances. Live music hasn’t disappeared and performances can be more exciting or moving than even the greatest recordings, but recordings give us fantastic variety, high quality, and complete freedom of choice at low cost.

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