Daily Archives: 2012/04/24

Stanford President Thinks about Online Learning

Source: The New Yorker, Apr 2012

Hennessy, like Andreessen, believes that online learning can be as revolutionary to education as digital downloads were to the music business. Distance learning threatens one day to disrupt higher education by reducing the cost of college and by offering the convenience of a stay-at-home, do-it-on-your-own-time education. “Part of our challenge is that right now we have more questions than we have answers,” Hennessy says, of online education. “We know this is going to be important and, in the long term, transformative to education. We don’t really understand how yet.”

In mid-February, Hennessy embarked on a sabbatical that will take him away from campus through much of the spring. His plans included travelling and spending time with his family. The respite, Hennessy says, will provide an opportunity to think. Of all the things he plans to think hard about, he says, distance learning tops the list.

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Stanford Critiques Itself

Source: The New Yorker, Apr 2012

The long-term value of an education is to be found not merely in the accumulation of knowledge or skills but in the capacity to forge fresh connections between them, to integrate different elements from one’s education and experience and bring them to bear on new challenges and problems. . . .

Yet we were struck by how little attention most departments and programs have given to cultivating this essential capacity. We were also surprised, and somewhat chagrined, to discover how infrequently some of our students exercise it. For all their extraordinary energy and range, many of the students we encountered lead curiously compartmentalized lives, with little integration between the different spheres of their experience.