UD is back at the online education conference at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, where she continues to learn new words.


But not just words. There’s the whole thing of whether universities will continue to exist at all if we can download MIT educations via MOOCs. (MOOCs are totally the star of this show. It sometimes sounds a like barnyard here – MOOMOOMOOc.)

The answer to that is you can’t download a college education, which includes not just the social, rite of passage stuff, but also immediate intellectual interaction with professors and smart fellow students – in classrooms, outside of classrooms.

Universities also collect smart people to think valuable thoughts and make valuable things. You can take all of those people and put them in think tanks and corporations, but only the university offers an environment reasonably free of ideology and the profit motive.

UD is aware that both ideologies and commercial activities exist on campuses; she is merely pointing out that unlike Brookings or the Heritage Foundation or Pfizer, the university stands at some remove from ideology and the profit motive. It enables a special sort of intellectual independence, and we rightly value and want to preserve that.


“What is the unique value of physical presence?”

Too right. One of the breakout sessions lists this as a “very important” question.

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