Lots of people are talking about the accelerating penetration of virtual platforms in the higher education sector. It’s of course unknown whether the massive open online course (MOOC) will be the vector that transforms traditional higher ed the way that so many other industries are being transformed by interconnectivity. But it seems clear that there will be some vector. (I got my first ad for a law school MOOC this week.)
Virtuality poses two basic challenges to higher education. The first is about pedagogy: What might be gained, and what lost, from shifting from a bricks-and-mortar learning environment to a virtual one? The second is about money and institutions: What happens to the business model of colleges and universities as virtual platforms become cheaper, easier to access, and increasingly popular?
Less discussed but potentially just as important is the penetration of virtuality into K-12 ed. Cyber-charter schools are becoming ubiquitous, enrolling tens of thousands of children. Several states have created virtual school districts. In Florida, I’m told, you cannot graduate from high school without taking at least one virtual course.