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Editorial: Online learning makes Brown accessible to all

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Brown’s decision this year to open up eight for-credit, online summer courses comes as general interest in online education — including the Massive Open Online Courses that Brown had previously heralded as the future of education — has begun to wane. While the public discourse surrounding Coursera and edX — sites that allow anyone to watch lectures, participate in chat room sections and access course readings — has given way to broader discussions of tuition, affordability and debt, the expansion of Brown’s online summer courses offers a new entry point to examine the technological developments taking place in higher education.

We commend Brown’s commitment to expanding higher education opportunities, particularly in the liberal arts. As tuition and fees at the University rise another 4.1 percent next year, many critics will push even more fervently for pre-professional programs in order to prepare students to earn their way out of debt. Meanwhile, the University is also devoting more attention to the highly lucrative science, technology, engineering and mathematics concentrations. These factors make preserving the accessibility of the humanities in higher education crucial.

Similarly, Brown students’ ability to receive credit for online courses will help students continue to participate in academic life over the summer without rendering them ineligible for internships. Also, considering that many students returning from leave must take summer courses in order to maintain good academic standing, the greater location flexibility should make meeting this goal easier.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Emma Axelrod ’18 and Emma Jerzyk ’17, and its members, Eben Blake ’17 and Leeron Lempel ’19. Send comments to

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  1. This editorial is the equivalent of the bat signal for Jon Lonergan. Stunned he hasn’t already commented yet

    • I saw that there was one comment and I was like “I bet it’s John Lonergan.” We must be patient for the chosen one.

      • I’m starting to get a little worried. 3 days and still no comment from the great JL. Does anyone seeing this know him personally? Can somebody vouch that he is alive/ok? Something just doesn’t feel right here.

    • '`*-.,_,-*'`*~-.,.~*'*~ (2014) says:

      lmfao! i got excited for JL when i clicked and saw that this was by the editorial board

  2. Online education is going to hit Brown like a ton of bricks unless it gets on board with both feet asap. The value of a Brown-branded degree is declining, like that of every other Ivy. Most skills that are actually in demand in the real world can be taught online. Providence will not be spared.

  3. Where is the research to support that “general interest in online learning has begun to wane”? Perhaps this reference is specific to Brown University as the recently published 2015 Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the US ( shows that higher education distance education enrollments are on the rise.

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