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Conservatives declare war on college

Are you crazy? The Internet will definitely ruin college!

That's what my inbox has been telling me ever since my story two weeks ago about the inevitable invasion of MOOCs (massive open online courses) into higher education, "The Internet Will Not Ruin College." The negativity wasn't unanimous, but it was definitely illuminating.

Information is not the same as knowledge! Online education might work for remedial algebra or the basics of computer programming, conceded several professors, but when the goal is to teach students to think and write critically about history or literature, the benefits of teaching thousands of students simultaneously via their iPads becomes much hazier. University administrators pushing MOOCs, they argued, are more interested in cutting costs or finding new sources of revenue than in delivering the best education possible. Most students who do register for MOOCs never finish them, they warned, and the available data suggests the kinds of students who need the most educational assistance tend to be the ones who benefit the least from online classes.

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