WASHINGTON – Given the influence of rapid globalization and the emergence of knowledge-based societies, the universities of the future will bear virtually no resemblance to those of today. Or so argued a group of American and Asian education leaders who gathered here Monday to speculate on how the sector may evolve to meet future challenges.
Is online education as good as traditional, face-to-face education?
It is a loaded question. Online programs comprise the fastest-growing segment of higher education, with brick-and-mortar colleges — many ailing from budget cuts — seeing online as a way to make money and expand their footprints. Meanwhile, some politicians are eager for public institutions to embrace online education as a way to educate more people at a lower cost.
When Jon Stewart asked Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty last week for some examples of how he intended to administer “limited and effective” government, the Republican governor did not roll out boilerplate rhetoric on welfare or farm subsidies. Instead, he took square aim at traditional higher education.
Much of the news surrounding the University of California system has involved whether the network of universities will be able to survive its current budgetary crisis without shrinking in size or quality. In that context, it is no surprise that Christopher Edley Jr.’s plan to use online education to expand the university’s footprint “from Kentucky to Kuala Lumpur” has turned some heads -- and churned some stomachs.