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Can Distance Replace Classroom Learning?Reply to topic

  • 07/26/13 at 01:15 PM

Recently, the Ministry of Education (MEC) placed creation of a federal university for distance education (DE) on the agenda. According to Minister Aloizio Mercadante, universities can offer their courses through the new university. “So, the engineering [course] at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul can also be offered as a distance course,” he said. Furthermore, according to Mercadante, close to 15% of higher education students in Brazil study through this mode, while, among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, this percentage reaches 50%. “There is no way to meet the high demand if not be distance education, and this is the MEC's priority," he stated. In addition, around the world, countries like England, Spain and Portugal, for example, already have distance education public universities, while Brazil still does not. The news brought discussions on the theme to classrooms and discussion groups. If, on one hand, distance teaching helps supply the demand for courses, universities and professors, on the other hand, classroom teaching provides benefits that cannot be offered by DE. In an interview with the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Stanford University (U.S.) computer science professor and cofounder of Coursera.org, Daphne Koller, stated that the university will never be completely replaced by online courses. “It can be replaced for teaching graduates and those who want to expand their knowledge, but not for teaching in general. The university plays roles generally not appreciated, which go beyond simple instruction, such as the development of scientific content. In addition, it does not just train students, but also socializes them and teaches them to be better people,” she defended. Meanwhile, Google has announced that it is preparing to enter the distance education sector. With Helpouts, which is in the testing phase and will work together with Google Plus Hangouts and YouTube, anyone will be able to offer courses on anything, and even decide whether to charge for this. And what about you? What do you think about distance education? Do you think it can replace classroom learning in some way?


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