WBEZ | distance learning http://www.wbez.org/tags/distance-learning Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en MOOCs? Distance learning? Technology's impact on higher education http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/moocs-distance-learning-technologys-impact-higher-education-104022 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_ap667092808394.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Peter Struck, Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania records a lecture (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)" /></div><p>This past summer I traveled to South Africa to lecture at a number of private and state universities. South Africa has 23 institutions of higher education, which offer a full range of majors and curricula. And while these schools offer their students a traditional classroom experience, each of these institutions also offers its students some distance learning options. Depending on college and the major requirements, a student is able to take all, a large portion or at least some of their core classes online.</p><p>The various methods of distance learning include the old fashioned &ldquo;snail mail&rdquo; correspondence school method: Students do a series of written assignments and mail them to an instructor, who corrects and grades them. There are also telecast lectures, interactive broadcasts that allow students to interrupt a lecture to ask a question or request more detailed information. Finally, there are computer-based classes that offer either one-to-one experiences or MOOCs &mdash;&nbsp;massive open online courses &mdash; that operate on a virtual classroom and chat room model.</p><p>South African schools have invested so heavily in distance-learning methods for both practical and pedagogic reasons. South Africa needs to educate its growing population in order to maintain its relatively new status as a democratic nation. Distance learning reaches more potential students at a much more affordable price.</p><p>In American education, cost is nearing a tipping point. Post 9/11, nearly all universities have dramatically increased their tuition and most state schools have experienced a significant diminishment of government support; some state schools have been forced to more than double tuition since 2001. Both parents and students are looking for ways to diminish the overall cost of a university education.</p><p>One plan widely discussed in the halls of academia is to reduce the on campus university experience from four to three years without radically changing the course load &mdash; students would be in residence for three years and be charged three years of tuition. While in residence, besides taking face-to-face classes, they would also fit in one year of virtual classes at their convenience at no extra charge. These virtual classes would usually be required courses not in a student&rsquo;s major.&nbsp;The primary argument for this plan is that it gets students through school at a faster pace and at a lesser cost without sacrificing their overall learning experience.&nbsp;</p><p>I&rsquo;m not sure this curriculum&nbsp;telescoping will really work. But, like South Africa, we&rsquo;ve got to learn how to be more creative and experimental. Just as South Africa needs to educate its youth to service and maintain its democratic form of government, <em>so do we!</em></p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/moocs-distance-learning-technologys-impact-higher-education-104022