I can see the benefits of online learning, especially for certain kinds of introductory level information dump courses and for students who aren’t able to make regular class times. But I can’t see how someone can learn to pronounce a foreign language without an instructor encouraging you to speak the language in class, and what’s strange about the push for online education is that it comes as elite places eschew traditional lecturing in favor of other methods that are supposed to be better for learning. Things to keep an eye on: what’s the attrition rate? Does it lead to better or worse class performance?
This isn’t really about the technology itself. It’s just a tool. But… look. When boomers were graduating from college, a majority of their courses were taught by tenured faculty, even at state schools. (If you have a tenured researcher lecture, do you get to say that your 1500 person lecture course is taught by a tenured researcher? Hmm. Watch those numbers.) Why did this change?
We’re doing to higher education what we already did to secondary education; private schools, and public schools barely scraping by with lower standards, with smart people knowing that that’s not where you send your kids if you value education, except that we’ll want those public university students to take out lots of loans.