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I wanted to thank MIT for the opportunity to converse on its future path and present my perspective on this topic. I got my bachelors degree in Course 6.1 in 1996 and currently I am a law partner and patent attorney at a local law firm in Boston.
This topic has for many years made me realize what will MIT do to compete in this new educational marketplace. I might be wrong in my overall assessment, the reason why MIT is considering delving into distance learning is the unlimited possibilities it brings and its impact in the future. That said, it does saddened to see my school still lagging behind other major institutions in entering this marketplace. I think this is due in part by public perception,because online education was unfairly labeled inferior years past. I do commend MIT for its attempts to provide open courseware for all to share but honestly the greatest opportunity MIT can provide with its online educational format is to provide professionals, like myself, an opportunity to pursue an education of equal standing at the Institute online. Other major institutions like Stanford, Georgia Tech, Purdue, and others are providing such options for professionals to pursue graduate degrees in engineering. Given my time constraint, if MIT had provided such an option I might consider applying to get my long desired masters in electrical engineering.
I know for sure this approach might require various departments at MIT to restructure the way they teach courses, but I do believe MIT has all the capabilities to be successful in such ventures. I know others will argue well this will diminish the quality of education at MIT. I counter this logic by saying if Stanford, Purdue or Georgia Tech's educational quality has not been diminished why would that happen to MIT. While I do agree there are inherent limitations to providing online education to undergraduate engineering students or Phd. because of lab and research requirements, but masters degree I believe are a great avenue to start. Some of the finest engineering programs in our nation are pursuing this route and I believe MIT should as well. I hope the Institute is not beholding to old school thinking because I believe if MIT wants to be considered the most innovative school in this country it must also act innovative. While MIT is slowly entering the online world it surely not aggressive in an area I believe MIT has the utmost advantage.
Wish the best to my old school.