Here is an article from The Atlantic about the way the internet may change higher education: link here. While the downsides for the professors are pretty obvious - if you can online teach a class to 8000 people instead of regular teach a class to 100 people, that reduces the need for professors - there are also a lot of advantages.
Think of it as the difference between theater and film. The advent of movies did not kill of actors. And this had the advantage: if you had a really great actor, they didn't have to go out and do Henry V five times a week. They could do Henry V once, film it, and then do Henry IV, Part I. If they filmed that, then they could do As You Like It. And, perhaps, if they tire of Shakespeare, they can go on and do My Fair Lady. Because the actor does not have to endlessly prepare and repeat the same performance, the total amount of art produced increased. And, of course, there are still theater performances for those who want the original experience.
The interesting and exciting thing here is that each professor could potentially be much more productive doing better work. However, as long as the work is good and could potentially add value to a student's life, they should still be able to find a way to get paid to do it.
Anyway, the professors have managed to hang on since the Middle Ages, so I suspect that they will get through this technology change too.
--- Stag Staff
Things are getting interesting: UVA is using the elite Coursera courses as part of a hybrid for some of its introductory classes.
Also a smart economic-esque analysis of how higher education institutions built around scarcity will be disrupted by the logic of abundance enabled by the internet (though I do think the piece falls somewhat into the education as factory fallacy; people are not widgets).
Also good to think about: how does this MOOC development fit into the broader institutional unbundling and transition from a logic of scarcity that's slowly but surely developing?
Gates, Thiel, Summers and Thrun on online education:
H/T Marginal Revolution
"Things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could." --Larry Summers quoting Rudiger Dornbusch