Domestic, Open Source Education, Opinion, Required, University & College - Written by on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 12:34 - 0 Comments

Bill Keller: The University of Wherever – NYTimes.com

 

John L. Hennessy, 10th president (since Octobe...

Stanford's John L. Hennessy. Image via Wikipedia

 

Bill Keller at the New York Times writes in his column today about the techno-utopian Stanford and the brick-and-mortar realist Stanford. On one hand is Professor Sebastian Thrun, who opened his artificial intelligence class to anyone with an internet connection. On the other, is John Hennessy, who is President of the school now in competition with Cornell for free land in New York City’s Roosevelt Island for a satellite location:

John Hennessy, Stanford’s president, gave the university’s blessing to Thrun’s experiment, which he calls “an initial demonstration,” but he is cautious about the grander dream of a digitized university. He can imagine a virtual campus for some specialized programs and continuing education, and thinks the power of distributed learning can be incorporated in undergraduate education — for example, supplanting the large lecture that is often filled with students paying more attention to their laptops. He endorses online teaching as a way to educate students, in the developing world or our own, who cannot hope for the full campus experience.

But Hennessy is a passionate advocate for an actual campus, especially in undergraduate education. There is nothing quite like the give and take of a live community to hone critical thinking, writing and public speaking skills, he says. And it’s not at all clear that online students learn the most important lesson of all: how to keep learning.

Keller ends by placing the U.S. high education institutions on a pedestal for admiration the world over:

Who could be against an experiment that promises the treasure of education to a vast, underserved world? But we should be careful, in our idealism, not to diminish something that is already a wonder of the world.

 

via The University of Wherever – NYTimes.com.



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