A dozen educators met last month in Palo Alto, Calif., to discuss the future of higher education. They had been convened at the epicenter of technological innovation in higher education by Sebastian Thrun, a pioneer of massive open online courses, and yet the task at hand had nothing to do with software or strategy. It had to do with citizenship.
The Philadelphia Convention, it was not. But the 12 educators, many of them well known in online-education circles, did manage to draft a document that they hope will serve as a philosophical framework for protecting the interests of students as online education, propelled and complicated by the rise of MOOCs, hurtles into a new phase.
Called “A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age,” the document proposes a set of “inalienable rights” that the authors say students and their advocates should demand from institutions and companies that offer online courses and technology tools.
Those rights should include access and privacy, along with access to information about the financial models of institutions and companies offering online courses, write the authors.
Mr. Thrun, the founder of the MOOC provider Udacity, said his involvement in drafting the document does not amount to a pledge or endorsement by his company. And despite the legislative reference in the document’s title, the “bill of rights” does not have regulatory teeth.
Still, its authors hope the document will frame the standards and expectations that guide universities and their constituents as online tools and platforms become part and parcel of traditional higher education. <Read more.>