The Debate of Free Courses

Source: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/new-york-u-turns-to-free-site-to-help-teach-computer-programming/40372

This is interesting as I can see both sides of this. Before I get into detail, I will first openly state both sides:

  1. Instructors may lose their job or a potential job if a school is willing to turn to free courses online for students to take instead of taking courses offered at their school
  2. Students now have better opportunity to take courses that may not be offered by the university

I teach at a university and more specifically, I teach Computer Science. I can honestly see both sides of this story for various reasons. One is that most programs, if not all at a university, have gaps. Some courses are just not covered, or they are covered in a topics format, but cycled every couple years. Also, I see some of our first year students struggling with the concepts of programming, and it would be amazing if they could take a university level course for free BEFORE they attend university. This would get their knowledge up and they would be better prepared.

At the same time, a university could offer a tutorial course, or more topics courses that would attract students. If the university did that, then there would be more job creations because of more courses available. Each administration is different but I can see the pros and cons of doing so. Obviously unions might get upset, but from a students point of view, they are able to take courses that simply are not offered at the school. This might be because the knowledge is not there in the department or the resources are not available. Either way, the courses are just not offered.

It is interesting and I wonder if more schools will take this route. I am not sure of any Canadian schools doing this but I would be interested to see hear any stories!

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