Columns

Corvese ’15: Do you support Brown’s online learning venture? Yes

By
Opinions Columnist
Friday, October 12, 2012

It was just decades ago that science fiction envisioned a future in which people communicated through video. It pictured a world in which despite being on opposite sides of the world, people could interact face-to-face in real time, be it to share complex ideas or just have a conversation.

With the countless technologies that have emerged in video chatting and calling over the past few years, that future is now. And while we are still working out some kinks in the hardware, we have seen a revolutionary and progressive endeavor in communication. Learning is now heading in this direction as well, with websites such as Coursera that provide online classes to people all over the world. As an institute that promotes higher learning and thinking, Brown should embrace online learning and share its knowledge with the world.

Let it be said that online learning will never replace the traditional classroom. Rather, it is a supplement that provides new methods of education rather than throwing away old ones. It is a resource for people who may not be able to receive a Brown education through traditional means, be it for economic reasons, a disability or anything else. Who are we to decide who gets to learn and who does not? In fact, not offering online classes when the resources are available is a selfish act of withholding valuable knowledge from the rest of the world.

Plus, everyone else is doing it. Though this does not mean we should necessarily “jump off a cliff just because our friends are doing it,” we should also not sit atop College Hill with smug grins on our faces, clinging to our textbooks so no one else can read them. Joining the world of online learning, as schools such as Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and many more have, further establishes Brown as a powerful presence in the dynamic world of higher education – which grants us the resources to work with educational progress as it inevitably occurs.

Certainly, there are weaknesses in online classes, such as the lack of being near other students, teaching assistants or professors for immediate help. Some suggest that offering online classes completely goes against Brown’s philosophy of personal, liberal learning. But why disregard a new way of learning just because it does not comply with that belief? I have faith that in due time online learning will exist as a useful addition to the already impressive and effective liberal learning system.

Online learning is a very new field, so we can not expect immediate perfection and gratification. But we should work to improve it and embrace it with open arms for the sake of the Brown education both here in Providence and in the rest of the world.

 

Gabriella Corvese ’15 still hikes across campus to all of her lectures and can be reached at gabriella_corvese@brown.edu.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Gabriella
    You look so young in the picture. probably just anew graduate from college . Am I right.
    You are right and you are wrong .

    MIT + Harvard is a revolution in education. NON PROFIT. Real education experience with a 15 year long range planning in education technologies. They offer the same courses as oncampus courses.

    COURSERA is a commercial company, for profit. Their aim is to make profit . But they are genius in marketing. The courses offerred are not the same as offerred oncampus . 5-6-7 weks long.
    I DO NOT UNDEERSTAND WHY IN THE WORLD EVEN ELITE UNIVERSITIES ARE COPERATING WOTH COURSERA .
    Not any university can make money offering courses at Coursera free or a low cost .

    Particularly I do not understand this

    ” the fear of missing left out ” SYNDROM

    I see from Gabriella that a for profit company had made her completely blind .
    Really very sorry for the elite universities .
    Muvaffak GOZAYDIN mgozaydin@hotmail.com