TED Conversations

David Levine

Research Scientist, University of Tennessee


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Online Education versus Traditional Education for College/University.

With the proliferation of on-line Colleges and Universities, I wonder if the long-term outcomes will be different; by different I mean worse. I would argue that the social experience of going to a traditional College is better for most individuals. The direct face-to-face interactions with professors and peers, the ability to join clubs, play sports, join Fraternities and Sororities, etc. all are learning experiences. Learning to interact with others, work as a team, take instruction, etc., are all part of the learning experience.

I am completely for hybrid courses and even taking a few courses on-line. What I would argue against is the 4 year degree that can be obtained in your kitchen. There are lots of statistics on each side (you can always find the news you want). But for the typical post-HS student (not adults wanting to gain a degree) I would argue that traditional education is better from a standpoint of helping one develop as a mature individual who can contribute to society.


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    Jan 14 2014: I agree with all of this. Do you think number 4 can happen with on-line education?
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      Jan 15 2014: I think you can do some of this with distance learning programs using well run discussion forums for small enough groups that students come to know each other well, but I don't think the giant MOOCs work out that way. I doubt, though, that one can reproduce online the rich immersive context of the college in which students live on or near campus and live, eat, sleep, and study in the close vicinity of classmates.

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