Online Learning Update

January 27, 2012

The cost of open online learning courseware: MITx Files

Filed under: Online Learning News — Ray Schroeder @ 12:10 am

By EUGENIA WILLIAMSON, the Boston Phoenix |

We should take into account the research of Justin Reich, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In a lunchtime talk at the Berkman Center on Tuesday titled “Will Free Benefit the Rich? How Free and Open Education Might Widen Digital Divides,” Reich made the case that, in the “profoundly inequitable” United States educational system, free technological resources favor those students who are already at a socioeconomic advantage. “There’s clear evidence that those who consume open courseware are predominantly affluent people,” Reich told me after his lecture. That’s not a bad thing— if education technology doesn’t benefit the middle class, he says, it won’t gain traction. “When great universities put their course materials online, it expands the opportunities for students to get access to that kind of education — I think there are very few readily apparent drawbacks,” he said. But it’s worth checking who’s taking advantage of this kind of opportunity.”

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