William Bowen: Is Technology the "Cure" for Higher Education?

Movers and Shakers

William Bowen: Is Technology the "Cure" for Higher Education?

Oct 16, 2012

WHITHER THE MOOC?: Excellent discussion at Stanford last week ignited by William Bowen, whose keynote at the 2012 Tanner Lectures on Human Value debated the merits of online learning, particularly with regards to MOOCs and higher ed. Bowen, president emeritus of Princeton and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a new--but cautious--believer in online learning. Three major roadblocks remain, he says: a lack of data showing a real difference in learning outcomes, the proliferation of different MOOC platforms, and continued reluctance from educators to accept online learning. (Check out the written version of his speech here.) The distinguished audience brought up other points: Columbia University's director of American Studies, Andrew Delbanco, worried that the media's infatuation with MOOCs as the "future" is eroding public support for the higher ed institution. Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller extolled the new opportunities but warned against jumping to conclusions before giving the new approaches more time. Bowen agreed, but noted that patience is "that rarest of virtues."

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