October 7-10, 2012, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Session Details

The Future of Higher Ed? A Canary In The Coalmine of Online Learning

#MPD2 Management and Professional Development Track

103 A & B, Frontier Airlines Center


Several large, elite universities have entered the online learning world in a big way this year. Stanford's Udacity, MITx, and the Coursera consortium are offering free online versions of traditional undergraduate classes to a virtual classroom of thousands of students around the world. All of this begs many questions, not the least of which is: what will the residential, four-year college experience look like in 10 years?
In this session, Lori Packer will present two case studies based on my experiences as an online student: one in a "traditional" Blackboard-driven graduate program for distance students, and one as a student in a Coursera course. Together we will try to answer several "big" questions, including: how does technology help or impede the learning process? Is a "classroom" of thousands really a classroom? How does the role of a professor change in this environment? The role of a student? When on-campus students are paying $6,000 to take the same 3-credit class that thousands of students are taking for free, what value is being added for the on-campus student, and does that added value worth the cost? Are these developments in massive online courses exciting? Alarming? Both? And how do Web professionals fit in?


Lori Packer
Web Editor, University of Rochester

As Web editor at the University of Rochester, Lori Packer is responsible for the design, maintenance, and content strategy for several central University websites, including the University’s homepage and news site. Packer is also part of the design and editorial team for Futurity.org, an online magazine for research news from more than 50 universities in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Before coming to higher ed, Packer was the lead U.S. editor for MSN Search -- Microsoft's pre-Bing search engine -- and received a master's degree in communications from the University of Washington. She is currently working toward her MSLIS from the iSchool at Syracuse University. She has served on the HighEdWeb organizing committee since 2003. She is a Phillies fan, a beer snob, and an insomniac, and she blogs sporadically at www.goddessofclarity.com