MHP   |  October 27, 2012

Online education to uproot tradition?

The Melissa Harris-Perry panel weighs in on a surge in online college courses that promise to revolutionize the traditional college model.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> so i've been making my whole table laugh talking about what i hear often at college campuses. so, you know, as a student, college for you is classes. as a professor it tends to be your research and teaching. administrators use the language when talking about students, tpus, tuition paying units. in other words, how do we maximize the number of tpus on campus. one of the ways to get maximum number of tpus, good client services, nice gym, good football field , better looking dorms than i ever imagined. how do we on the one hand point out that, yes, there's this market going on. but at the other point -- as both of you, talk about the fact that education is really the engine for upward mobility in this country.

>> we were talking about young people in the last segment. how do we're quip young people with the skills and tools we need to go out in the tools and be good citizens and doers. i think the fact that 80% of adults surveyed think college is not worth what they're paying for it shows there's a problem. we need to be training students better. we're seeing innovation in pockets. at yale law school we start add program where we train law students to use film and video in their advocacy, an innovation in legal education . at auburn seminary, we're reinventing ourself to have faith leaders reorganize campaigns. these kinds of innovations ought to be happening not just at the elite university, at the public schools so students feel like they're getting what they're paying for.

>> ben, as someone who is on the job creator, hiring side -- i understand you said i've dropped out of tons of colleges, right? when you're thinking about a worker or someone that you're going to hire, i think there's this real tension between schools, universities wanting to give you a liberal arts education and on the other hand equip you to get a job in this market.

>> mostly you want someone who has good work habits, a good work ethic , someone who is going to show up, put in a full day's work and someone who has got either good critical thinking skills so they can learn, so that they can be doing con stand learning. what we needed an employee to do five years ago is really different from what we need an employee to do now.

>> so you're not training someone for a particular set of skills. you're training them for the ability to keep learning. on the one hand, that feels like it's directly related to college education . then you said people who show up on time, it sounds like it's inversely related .

>> there's both jobs. there's manufacturing jobs and there's office jobs. it's different sets of skills and abilities that we're looking for.

>> the problem with only training people for a very specific skill set is skills inevitably become obsolete and people get more in debt to retrain. liberal arts degrees teach you edification, t you can solve complex problem sets irrespective of what time or decade or era you're living in. that's a lifelong skill.

>> felicia, on the one hand i'm with you. i want more investment particularly in community classes. then i worry about a two-tier system, a tuition paying june it in who get edification unit and another set that get trained in skill set learning.

>> you're right to worry about inequality. at a certain point we have to invest in the range of colleges. i went to an elite school. i know we have to invest in a range of colleges. 50% of all students now go to community colleges . these are places where our local leaders are trained. these are places where we're going to have to learn the kinds of skills that you need in the workplace.

>>> more in just a moment. first it's time for a preview with "weekend with alex witt ."