CNN published an article online about a month ago aptly named "Online Courses Need Human Element to Educate" by Douglas Rushkoff (2013). This article discussed the idea of Massive Online Open Classes, or MOOCs, as they've come to be known.
MOOCs are online courses that take online learning one step farther. They're specific classes offered to anyone who want them, sometimes completely for free. You don't need to be enrolled in a specific school or be studying any certain major to take them, but rather, you just need a desire to learn. They allow students to learn a specific skill, or specific theories, without the inconvenience of actually going to a campus or having to take any general education classes. Enrollment in these classes has risen incredibly in the past few years, especially the MOOCs which have partnered with big name colleges and universities.
Feel free to read the entire article yourself, but author's thesis is that no matter how good online education is, people still crave the human interaction portion of learning. A big portion of learning is engaging and discussion with the professor and your fellow students. Data can be presented online and skills can be learned, but at the root of learning is community; we learn best in cohorts.
This is what MSPP's Higher Education Student Personnel Administration program is doing well. With all of our coursework online, with no reason for me to ever travel to Massachusetts and see the MSPP campus in person, it could be easy to feel alone. However, the MSPP faculty has made it a point to make sure I never feel this way. They frequently check in with e-mails and phone calls and our classwork is structured around whole class discussions every single week. I feel like I'm getting to know both my classmates and my professors even though we've never met in person.
I'm thankful for this opportunity to earn my degree in an online program, but I'm even more thankful that the MSPP faculty has worked hard to make sure that the program is a place of community and engagement.
Rushkoff, Douglas. (2013, January 15). Online courses need human element to educate. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/15/opinion/rushkoff-moocs/index.html?iref=allsearch.