09/04/2014 11:47 am ET Updated Nov 04, 2014

The College Course Is Dead?

The college course is dead. Or at least that's the argument I make in an op-ed today about MIT's report. And if it's not dead, I hope that someone will soon kill it.

By this I mean that most college courses are not structured for student learning; they're structured for professors teaching. Mounds and mounds and years and years of research have shown this to be the case. As Kevin Carey writes in another op-ed today,

The standard research-university model -- autonomous professors rewarded for scholarship, untrained in teaching and unaccountable for student learning -- dominates every aspect of modern higher education, including the vast majority of colleges, which have no mandate for research. It is obvious that students are cheated by this structural inattention to their academic well-being.

A friend once commented to me that "online education starts in the seventh row." He meant that there is no difference between sitting in a lecture hall and watching the professor "live" versus sitting in your pajamas in bed and watching the professor on your laptop in the archived lecture. Except, I would note, the bed is more comfortable. And you can pause the lecture and hit rewind. And you can pull up the professor's lecture notes at the same time. And you can click onto a tutorial or lab to practice whatever the professor has been lecturing about.

What I'm thus really getting at, and why I hope (only somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that the college course is dead, is because we actually have a chance to rethink from the ground up how to create authentically engaging academic classes. The technological revolution in higher education offers huge opportunities, and it is incumbent on us -- faculty and leaders in colleges and universities -- to develop a new model for teaching and learning.

So, dear reader, what does this look like? What are the college classes that you actually remember? As I always provoke my students: What's the point of going to class?