What are Universities for?

In this age where MOOCs can supply some of the best content in the world, and update it very quickly, what’s the point of going to a face-to-face session in an institution? Here are some things..but this page is just a draft at the moment – I’d like to improve it with the help of readers.

Having your learning measured, assessed and accredited

Universities have done this for years, and it takes a lot of time, and a lot of skill, and therefore costs a lot. This is probably why MOOCs haven’t really got round to assessment and accreditation yet.

Breathing the same air as experts

There’s still something about being in the actual presence of a really good teacher or researcher. There’s facial expression, tone of voice, gesture, emphasis, and the ability of the teacher to respond to what’s on the faces of the learners. You can only get some of this on a MOOC.

Being in the presence of lots of other learners

This includes the chance to talk to them, compare progress with them, see what they find difficult or easy, and so on. You can only do a little of this online, compared to sitting in the same room as lots of fellow human beings.

The chance to ask your own questions

Whenever we’re learning something new, there should be all sorts of questions running through our minds. At a University you can ask these questions – and learn even more from all the questions fellow-learners ask. When lecturers or tutors answer questions face-to-face, it’s much easier to get our heads around what they’re saying, as we can see them, and they can see whether their explanations are getting through to us, and when necessary try another way of answering our questions. With online programmes we may well be able to email questions or post them on a bulletin board, but we can’t get them answered face-to-face very often.