Online Learning and Liberal Arts Colleges

From Inside Higher Ed

June 29, 2012


Online learning is no longer foreign to traditional universities, where courses formerly held in large lecture halls are migrating to the Web. But at residential liberal arts colleges, whose appeal often lies in the promise of small classes and regular face time with professors, online education has had a harder time gaining a foothold.
That could soon change. Several top-rated liberal arts colleges have begun experimenting with online course modules. Professors at those colleges hope the technology, which tutors students in certain concepts via artificially intelligent tutoring software in lieu of static textbooks or human lecturers, will help level the playing field for academically underprepared students while giving instructors more flexibility in planning their syllabuses.
Professors at Bryn Mawr College and Wesleyan University, two colleges that stake their value on intimate classroom experiences, have begun experimenting with online courses developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI), a project that is more frequently discussed in conversations about the power of artificially intelligent learning platforms to take over certain teaching functions from human instructors. The OLI modules are designed to guide students through the equivalent of textbook material while quizzing them frequently along the way. By constantly gauging comprehension, the software gets a detailed read on the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and generates new tips and exercises aimed at closing gaps in their understanding.


Read more at Inside Higher Ed

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

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