Online University Director Fears Students “Suffer” from Going Online



Universities should charge less for online education and integrate collaborative learning into their virtual courses or risk dismal completion rates, according to the founder of a low-cost online university.

Shai Reshef, president of the University of the People (UoPeople), headquartered in California, said he “was concerned that the [education] online without the right systems and expertise can lead to a similar outcome to massive open online courses (Moocs) ”. A 2013 study found that the average Moocs completion rate was 6.8%.

“All universities are now moving online. But they don’t really know what they’re doing, ”Mr. Reshef said in an interview with Times Higher Education. “It reminds me of the Moocs era, where they filmed the professor and thought that was the answer… I certainly hope that the experience universities are giving their students right now won’t ruin it for them.”

Mr Reshef added that some universities “are already talking about not opening [their campuses] next year ”and UoPeople was“ the natural answer ”for any displaced student or any institution wishing to improve their online offering.

UoPeople, which was launched in 2009 and relies on volunteer instructors, is a non-profit online university for disadvantaged students around the world. Tuition is free, but students pay $ 100 (£ 81) for each exam they take, bringing the total cost of an undergraduate degree to $ 4,000.

The institution has 31,000 students, 7,000 of whom started this month, and is recruiting 1,000 volunteer instructors. Mr Reshef said he has seen “unprecedented growth” in students in China, Japan, South Korea and Italy, many of whom have been “laid off and are continuing their studies to facilitate their future research. use”. He expected the number of registrations to reach 40,000 by September and 80,000 a year later.

Mr Reshef said that the success of his institution was partly due to a pedagogy centered on interactive peer learning. He also recommended that traditional universities charge less for their online courses because “the cost of online education is a fraction of the cost of traditional face-to-face education” and “we are going to have an economic crisis as a result of the coronavirus “.

“Almost every university in the western world offers online courses, even full degrees. The challenge, however, is that a lot of them charge the same amount whether you go online or face to face, ”he said.

“Some universities may say: every year you take x courses, 30% of them will be online, and we will reduce the tuition fee by 25%. I think some will take it a step further and say: study the first two years online, then come to campus for the last two years. Others will just do what we do and go all the way online.

Mr Reshef added that UoPeople had opened its courses to students from other institutions and offered to train academics on how to deliver their courses online.

“I am a little worried about the future of the Internet, because if [universities] if you do wrong the students will suffer, they will all hate it and they will decide then that online does not work. My interest is to show them that online is good, but do it well, ”he said.

Is Mr. Reshef concerned that the rapid move to online education threatens his own institution’s USP?

“If one day I wake up and see that our model has worked and all the universities in the world have opened their doors to everyone and all the students in the world are served, I will wake up that morning with a big smile. , I will go back to sleep and probably wake up with another dream, ”he said.

[email protected]


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.