Opinion Asks

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 10/1/14 5:47pm

In light of the College's upcoming massive open online courses, we asked our staff members for their thoughts on the DartmouthX initiative.

There seems to be a conflict of interest here. The idea of an online, non-profit, open-to-all lecture is commendable in its contribution to universal education; MOOCs extend the caliber of an Ivy League education to students who may not have access to such resources. Pro-bono education!

However, we must be careful of letting loose resources that were once limited to Dartmouth students as it may have a dangerous side-effect — MOOCS could bring down the public’s perception of a Dartmouth education.

We can criticize the elitism of an Ivy League education as much as we’d like, but students at Dartmouth are here for a prestigious education above all else. That experience comes from not only the quality of teaching, but also from the reputation and prestige that accompanies attending a selective institution.

Allowing free-for-all access to those limited resources in the form of a project as large as edX could be a step too far for the College.

— Annika Park ’18

It’s about time Dartmouth caught up with its elite peers.

Online education is the future. As an elite school at the forefront of higher education in America, Dartmouth should be leading the way toward a world where quality teaching is available to anyone with a router.

We have long been the leader of education’s old traditions, where lectures are live and localized. But these traditions are quickly proving obsolete.

Companies like Khan Academy and Minerva are beginning to show that online platforms for learning can be made efficient and effective.

Dartmouth cannot afford to fall behind the curve on such an important and rapidly accelerating trend. It’s time to think big and embrace learning that is wireless, global and free for all.

— Jon Vandermause ’16

DartmouthX is definitely a good development for the College at this point, amid the ever-publicized and rampant negativity that has recently pervaded our campus.

Much like the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” initiatives in other areas of campus life, this MOOC initiative represents a positive change to the status quo. Putting forth online courses will help us break out of “the Dartmouth bubble,” at least from an academic standpoint.

It is a legitimate demonstration not only of our institution’s academic excellence, but also of the College’s willingness to share its passion for learning and its commitment to teaching — even to those outside of Dartmouth.

— Aylin Woodward ’15

I think that implementing MOOCs at Dartmouth is an unwise decision. As a liberal arts college, Dartmouth is ostensibly focused on delivering a high-quality, student-focused undergraduate experience.

In-class discussions, opportunities to interact with professors outside of class and even conversations with one’s peers are critical properties of Dartmouth’s academic experience. No webcast can or should match that.

The MOOC fad fits Dartmouth poorly. The College would do better to invest in classroom technologies that aim to enhance learning in the classroom, rather than technologies that aim to replace the classroom experience itself.

— Lorelei Yang ’15