Conference Spotlights the Evolution That Online Education Forces On Higher Education

Spotlight On Online Education in Higher Ed

Over the course of a few years, colleges and universities around the world have noticed the impact online education has made on higher education. Institutions are now examining new approaches to properly segue their entrance into this growing field. Recognizing the substantial need to integrate online courses into more traditional offerings is causing schools to revamp or “redesign” their course program structure.

Several new avenues were discussed at the Ideas Economy: Human Potential conference panel held at the Times Center in New York City on September 14 and 15. Speakers included Shia Reshef , founder of the University of the People, Angel Cabrera, president of Thunderbird School of Global Management, and Ben Wildavsky, Senior Scholar of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation.

Key take-aways include:

  • Traditional learning spaces such as lecture halls will need to be transformed to increase interaction between instructors and students.
  • Along with the changing landscape of education, the definition of “university” should be changed to combine both traditional and distance-learning features.
  • U.S. universities should expand their reach globally and involve locations where students would not be afforded the same educational opportunities.
  • Resources for students seeking education in countries that lack a basic infrastructure for learning (e.g. access to the Internet, etc.) should continue to expand.

This advancement in educational practices has already been explored by colleges such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which offers over 1,800 free online courses through their OpenCourseWare project. In a move to make education accessible worldwide, OpenCourseWare allows anyone with Internet access the opportunity to access higher education materials in the form of courses at no cost. Other universities have similarly jumped in on the bandwagon in offering free online courses to students. As needs continue to arise, a shift in innovative educational approaches will certain take place.