EDITORIAL

Bricks and MOOCs

Science  25 Oct 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6157, pp. 402
DOI: 10.1126/science.1246943

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Summary

Parents everywhere know that a college education for their children is key to a prosperous future. At a recent Summit on Higher Education,* journalist Fareed Zakaria, the keynote speaker, recalled a conversation with the prime minister of a large developing nation who stated (only half in jest) that his strategy for accessible higher education was to provide broadband wireless network capability to every corner of his country and tell students to take advantage of free online offerings from U.S. universities—the massive open online courses (MOOCs). Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, responded to the topic of online learning with the question: “How can universities articulate the value proposition that will motivate students to move in for four years?” In his words, how can universities pass the “pajama test”? Will MOOCs exist as a parallel track alongside residential university experiences, creating new opportunities and new markets? Or are they a disruptive technology that will replace conventional universities, sending them the way of the record player or typewriter?