According to the president of Fordham University, online education must not be allowed to undermine the school’s “unique Jesuit tradition.” According to an article by Declan Murphy in The Ram, the Fordham student newspaper:

Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University, has spoken extensively about Fordham’s unique Jesuit tradition.”From the very beginnings, Jesuit education has been characterized by a number of different qualities,” he said. “We have a great emphasis on care for the individual student; we have a great desire to introduce excellence and rigor into the classroom and every subject we teach.”

This individual care for and challenging of the student cannot be replicated on a virtual campus. Online courses offer no face-to-face interaction between students and professors. Fordham focuses on small seminar classes based on the belief that the best way to learn is through discussion, and that the classroom allows students to participate in lectures and listen to professors in person. This type of interaction gives students a distinctive learning experience that is much more likely to stick with them later in life than lifeless text on computer screens.

Well certainly, but these qualities are by no means exclusive to Fordham. It’s not just Fordham’s unique tradition that can’t be replicated online. Classes based on the belief that “the best way learn is through discussion” are not a feature of Fordham; they’re a feature of college itself.

This is true whether one is talking about a Jesuit school that costs $39,000 a year or a community college. There’s no doubt a certain amount of information and training students can receive through online instruction, but no real college traditions can be replicated online.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer