Online Learning

Dickinson College is not in the MOOC (massive open online course) business, but we have been experimenting with online learning.  Each summer since 2012, the House Divided Project at Dickinson has been partnering with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (an organization which focuses on history education and teacher development for K-12 educators) to offer a series of increasingly ambitious online graduate-level classes about the Civil War or Abraham Lincoln.

Before undertaking this online leap, Prof. Pinsker and his undergraduate students at Dickinson provided a careful look at some of the controversies surrounding online learning in higher education.  Pinsker posed a series of 10 critical questions at the outset which he hoped their study might answer.  Then Russ Allen, ’14, helped begin this initiative by examining some articles that put the MOOC controversy into historical context.  Leah Miller, ’14, added to the effort at context by reviewing some of the most hyperbolic claims of MOOC advocates.  Russ Allen returned to the fray with a fascinating piece about grading practices online –a careful dissection of the claims about computer-graded and peer-graded assignments.

What do you think is the future for online learning?  Is it dying fad, or an essential component of future modes of education?  Should liberal arts colleges like Dickinson embrace online learning, or position themselves foursquare in opposition to it?