With all of the recent hullabaloo over massive open online courses (MOOCs), digital textbooks, and online learning systems, some people might come to the conclusion that these developments are brand-new and that the traditional form of higher education—based on a physical campus—might evaporate any day now.
Professor Kel Fidler, with 50 years of experience in the academic world and currently a director at the online learning provider Resource Development International in the U.K., sees it differently. In a piece for The Telegraph, Fidler points out many universities have been successfully engaged in online courses and digital content for years.
Although Fidler’s piece discusses higher education in the U.K., his comments could also apply to North American higher ed.
He views online courses, whatever their size, as providing more options for educational institutions and for students, but he doesn’t think they will or should take the place of on-campus learning, in part because some courses need in-person interaction. But the real foundation for any type of instruction, Fidler says, is quality.
“My experience has shown me that, whatever the delivery model, success relies on the same fundamental principles of quality teaching, content, and experience—and this is where I believe the debate about MOOCs often misses the point,” he writes.