This concerns the third of the three documents supporting the view of online education that contributed to the forced resignation of Theresa Sullivan as president of UVA: “Higher Education’s Online Revolution,” by John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe, in The Wall Street Journal on May 30th. Board of Visitors Rector Helen Dragas emailed this piece to fellow Visitor Mark Kington and then commended it to alumnus and donor Jeffrey Walker, in response to Walker’s email about online education. Walker asked, “How might [online education at UVA] lower our costs, improve productivity and link us to a group of students we couldn’t afford to serve (maybe more kids from the state to please the legislature)…maybe more second career grads?”
Chubb and Moe do present online education as a major disruption to higher education, and, like Brooks, the put forth a fundamentally optimistic view. They also address the uncertainties and drawbacks of the current initiatives, however: they note that the Harvard-MIT edX initiative has no revenue stream, is paid for by $60 million in university funds, and has no business plan going forward.
Their acknowledgement of the limitations of online courses leads Chubb and Moe to envision a blended model of higher education:
In this way, college X might have its students take calculus, computer science and many other lecture courses online from MIT-Harvard (or other suppliers), and have them take other classes with their own local professors for subjects that are better taught in small seminars. College X can thus offer stellar lectures from the best professors in the world—and do locally what it does best, person to person.