Teachers College, Columbia University

Democratization of Education for Whom? Online Learning and Educational Equity

With the advent of Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs), it is theoretically possible for anyone with an Internet connection to access course materials from elite universities—a possibility that some commentators have hailed as a “democratization” of education.

Of course, MOOCs are very new, and it is not yet clear how they will affect postsecondary access or attainment, particularly among traditionally underserved populations.

To provide some perspective on how MOOCs and other online delivery methods might affect educational equity, this article examines recent research on online college coursework (that is, courses in which most or all of the learning experience takes place online) and discusses potential implications for postsecondary access and learning.

This article appears in Diversity and Democracy, vol. 17, no. 1.

Associated Project(s)

Online Courses in Community Colleges