I saw this article in USA Today – community colleges, many of which are commuter schools, are cutting classes, typically on Fridays, to help students save money on gas.

Here’s the question I have: why wouldn’t professors start assigning distance learning opportunities in class? Let’s say you’re taking a course on biology, an intro course. Instead of having a Friday class, instead of canceling a Friday class, the professor assigns MIT Professor Dr. Graham Walker’s Introduction to Biology lecture from iTunesU as the guest lecture of the week. Students would still be responsible for the contents of the lecture and its contents would be fair game for exams.

Now, I know what some folks will say – community college students aren’t necessarily the most affluent students around, nor are they all likely to have high speed Internet access. Instead of a textbook, or in addition to a textbook, include the $149 iPod nano, and have a few computers in the classroom with the content pre-loaded. Students without a home computer and broadband can sync their iPods in class or after class for the distance learning day.

With gasoline at $4/gallon and so much good, free content online, the case for distance learning to substitute for lecture-style classes grows stronger by the day.

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