Online Academics

MIT OpenCourseware and the copyright hungry professor from Florida – if I were the authority on the model to follow in the future, I’d have to go with MIT.  The Florida case does raise some questions, though. 

I think the UF case is primarily an ethics matter regarding the business that is re-selling student notes.  The professor probably doesn’t over value his lectures, but does have a problem with the company that is making a profit on helping people “cheat.”  The intellectual property matter is just the pretext for taking a shot at this questionable business.

I’m curious whether this professor is paying for this lawsuit himself – or if his University is supporting him.  I would be suprised if U. of Florida is helping him out with legal fees.  It seems like UF would try to keep as much distance as possible – unless they see the case as a way to make more money, which is possible. 

However the case turns out, the students buying these notes are going to be shocked when they enter the work-force and realize that scheming their way through college has convincingly turned them into idiots, which they will not be able to hide from their bosses. 

The MIT model is interesting.  It proves that people pay to go to school to earn credentials, and not entirely for the knowledge.  This is why universities are more popular than public libraries.  The credentials aren’t the only benefit of paying to go to a university, though – taking classes online doesn’t have the same level of interaction.  No one is around to tell you when you mess up. 

My personal experience with online education was good – but I was in a unique circumstance.  Web-based courses helped me stay productive while I didn’t have a driver’s license.  I finished over a dozen classes online at NVCC.  All the lecture notes and assignments were posted online; I had to go to campus to take proctored tests occasionally.  I think I learned just as much as I would have taking the classes on campus, but there was defintley less interaction with the professor, and classmates.   

2 comments

  1. I was drawn to your sampled books list after you were freshly pressed. It has some of my favorite authors, but title I hadn’t read yet. Maybe soon though. But this post intrigued me. Not having an e-reader, I would say that I often sample MIT open courses! I’m also a UF alumna who staunchly refused to buy into the off-campus cheat-note business. I guess those two things tell you a lot about why I went to college!
    I’m glad you had such a great experience with online courses. Perhaps eventually I’ll read about your travels.

  2. Thanks for commenting. I think online courses are a great way for people to access good teaching. People who cheat are short-changing themselves, and the temporary benefit will be heavily outweighed by missing knowledge they could have earned.

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