Harvard’s undergraduate college went entirely online this fall. So did Princeton’s. Yale’s is mostly online. The UK’s Cambridge University will stay online throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Other big-name colleges are following suit: if it can be done online, it will be done online. Elite universities, once the last bastion of the small seminar, are now leading the charge online. Some non-US universities have suspended in-person lectures indefinitely.
Once the preserve of for-profit universities and big state schools, online education has now gone upmarket. And having been forced to invest heavily in online education this year, America’s top ten or twenty universities will want to cash in on those investments after the coronavirus crisis has passed. When education returns to normal, they will bring back the small seminars for which they are famous. But they won’t unplug their online courses.
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