Eco Ed: Online Classes Change the World for Better and Worse

By Mackenzie Mount, Sierra Club

Around the world, MOOCs are functioning as low-impact information carriers–and making eco-awareness more accessible. Jonathan Tomkin, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has already had 60,000 students register for his free course, Introduction to Sustainability: “You reach students who don’t have access to anything like this,” Tomkin says. “The potential of online education to help with environmental awareness is clearly a positive thing.” But will it cut into classic brick-and-mortar institutions? There’s also been impassioned debate about how effective a class can really be if students aren’t there in person. Administrators worry about how schools will stay financially viable if their product is offered for free. Rodrigues may have dropped out, but he’s doing well as a web developer. He still takes online classes to keep his skills sharp. “The universities have to evolve to absorb this new medium,” he says. “The fact that they’re free helps, but the ability to take classes at your own pace is the most important thing. This is the future of learning.”

http://sierraclub.typepad.com/greenlife/2013/10/eco-ed-online-classes-change-the-world-for-better-and-worse.html

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