The article brings to some interesting views on the futures of colleges and the experience that goes along with that first important step into adulthood. He brings some serious points to the argument. First, the traditional college experience versus an online college experience. Next, the quality of the online course information, as well as, having a tenured professor or an average non-degreed person teaching/monitoring a course. Then, he asks the question “Will employers take a person with an online degree just as serious as a traditional means degree?” Will they hold the same water so to speak? And finally, he weighs the pros and cons of the cost of attendance, the ability of non-traditional students to get a degree in their own time when they could not before.
There are two of these issues that stand out to me as an online student, the cost and the ease of going back to school. Teachout (pg. 92) states that a recent survey suggests that college cost is one of the top factors determining which schools students choose to attend. For me this was true, I chose an online college because I had young children, a full-time job, and a worsening disability that prevented me from going to a traditional campus for classes.
One does have to wonder about the future of online schools as it is concerns the qualifications of the instructors, how employers will trust or honor an online degree, and the overall experience of a traditional campus. To all these issues I would have to agree with Teachout on. I think the only area where this argument does not work is in two areas. First, the cost of private online colleges is much
higher than local traditional colleges. Yes, with private online schools you get enough financial aid to cover tuition, books, and only some living expenses. They do not give you enough to live on if you do not work full-time. The other issue is there are some degree programs like nursing, engineering, graphic design; performing arts, fashion design, and mathematics that benefit more form a hands-on approach to teaching and learning.
I think the education of the future will be completely online as well as libraries and sporting events where only the players will attend. There will be no need for dorms, campuses, bookstores, student union halls or stadiums any longer. Students will no longer know what it is like to commute to school, sit in a classroom, take notes, take a paper test, speak to their instructors face-to-face, or have a heated debate on current events in a criminal justice or government class. Nor will there be a sense of school spirit, rooting for the home team, or a need for graduation ceremonies. Your professor could be anyone off the streets. I tend to agree with Teachout on all of these things.
I feel the only ethical issues here are maybe online instructors stating they are qualified to teach a specific area when they are not. Plagiarism could be a very large problem as well as the school being hacked into or viruses shutting down the school's system. Safeguards must be maintained and met in this area.
The only questions I have for Zephyr Teachout are do you think online colleges will encourage or help more people with disabilities to get a degree? Also, do you think it will be possible to combine traditional colleges and online
colleges? Meaning, maybe have a computer lab at a public library or other public venue with a teacher streaming in live from another location to teach the class for people who do not have a home computer. This would make, questions, debates, social interaction, and face time possible.
In conclusion, I do not think the web will kill colleges. I think cost, convenience, ease of access, and students’ ability may bring an end to traditional college campuses as we know them today.
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