By Ran Thorp

CHAPEL HILL – Online education is here to stay, and according to UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp.

“We need to be part of the conversation and part of the effort that’s going into developing these things,” Chancellor Thorp says. “But, I don’t think the extreme views on either side of this are correct. I don’t think that this is going to disrupt residential college education overnight, and I also don’t think that it’s something we can ignore.”

Coursera and 2U are online education models in their early stages, but already the attempts at making them viable options are in the works. Both programs are free and don’t offer many options to receive course credit. However, Chancellor Thorp says with the amount of attention they’re receiving, a newly true form of education is fast approaching.

“Huge numbers of people sign up for these classes, but a relatively small percentage actually completes them,” Chancellor Thorp says. “The frontier in all this is trying to assess the work that the students do and to figure out whether it qualifies for college credit, and these are very difficult, logistical, technical, and pedagogical challenges.”

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