SOME people hope that the internet will revolutionise higher education, making it cheaper and more accessible to the masses. Others fear the prospect. Some academics worry that they will be sacked and replaced by videos of their more photogenic colleagues. Others argue that MOOCs (massive open online courses) are nowhere near as good as a class taught face-to-face.
Earlier this year academics at Amherst, a liberal-arts college, decided not to offer MOOCs. Professors in the philosophy department at San José State University wrote a letter of complaint because they were encouraged to use a popular online Harvard course, “JusticeX”, as part of their own curriculum. Even at Harvard, which has invested $30m in MOOCs, much of the faculty is prickly. In May 58 professors wrote to the dean of arts and sciences to demand greater oversight of MOOCs.