It’s already widespread in the United States and is a growing phenomenon in Europe.
Online university courses are increasingly a prefered mode of learning for a number of students, especially those with limited time on their hands.
“So this is my classroom, for my psychology course. My instructor puts information on this front page,” says Rebecca Stone, pointing at her laptop.
Rebecca does all her homework over the internet. Her classroom is an online forum.
She says that the best part of studying online is the flexibility: “I wanted to go back to a traditional university, but my work schedule would not allow me to take the courses that I needed.”
Professor Theodore Moran teaches economics at Georgetown University. He has some 30,000 students from 150 different countries. He teaches his course via two cameras, which allow him to answer students’ questions without leaving his office.
“I began as a sceptic. I think that possibilities have been extended, so that you really can have discussion boards,” says Professor Theodore Moran.
MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses are growing in popularity. The idea is to reach people who would otherwise not have access to the courses.
“So somebody new just joined from Uzbekistan, China… We also have Kenya,” says Rosaelena O’Neal, Course Manager at Georgetown University. She says it’s not about replacing classic studies but about added opportunity:
“I don’t believe that we are ever going to get away from student-to-teacher engagement. It’s about reaching people who could not have been reached otherwise.”
While the benefits to a larger audience are undeniable, universities are currently working on a number of issues linked to online learning, especially student assessment online, which is much more complex than the bricks and mortar version.