Magazine article University Business

Getting It Right, Now

Magazine article University Business

Getting It Right, Now

Article excerpt

Earlier this year work began on a document that, at the very least, formalizes expectations and minimum standards for schools and students venturing into online learning. With the growth of MOOCs and distance learning, we are entering a time when these alternate forms of learning will supplement and in some cases supplant traditional education models. Universities recognize that they need to find ways to provide cost-effective, quality education to an expanding base, even as their own funding gets slashed. Efforts such as Coursera, edX, UniversityNow, and others represent one approach that may radically change how learning takes place around the world. It's an exciting time, and these are largely uncharted waters. That's why the document, "A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age," is so important.

MOOCs and their like have the potential for paradigm shifting greatness. But they also have the potential to go horribly wrong. As the preamble to the Bill explains:

"We believe that online courses can create 'meaningful' as well as 'massive' learning opportunities. We also know that some have grasped onto online education not for the public good but for profits and, sometimes, for unreasonable profit at the public expense and even as an alternative, in some cases, to public education as an invaluable resource. We need to be both hopeful in exploring the possibilities and cautious in considering the potential problems."

It's a wide-ranging document, but among the rights and principles the still-evolving Bill includes are:

Privacy. …

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