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The Man Who Made Online College Work


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A drawing of Zvi Galil.

An online degree program Zvi Galil introduced at the Georgia Institute of Technologys College of Computingwhere he was dean from 2010 to 2019is now in its eighth year.

Credit: Ken Fallin

Covid has pummeled universities, robbing them of a mode of teaching in use for centuries. Almost every class at almost every institution migrated online, giving rise to fears that students are being taught significantly less well than they should be, even as they're denied the social and cultural benefits of campus life. Some worry—or hope—that campuses will never fully recover from the pandemic. Underlying this forecast is the expectation that online teaching may become the norm even after the novel coronavirus has been vanquished.

Zvi Galil disputes the premises that we should be afraid of online instruction and that teaching in person is necessarily superior. As professors everywhere take stock of their first full year teaching at Zoom U, Mr. Galil, 73, basks in his role as a pioneer. An online degree program he introduced at the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Computing—where he was dean from 2010 to 2019—is now in its eighth year.

In January 2014, the Tel Aviv-born Mr. Galil kicked off the Online Master of Science in Computer Science, the first-ever college degree program taught entirely online. To hear him tell it, many students' learning is remote even when the professor is in the room.

From The Wall Street Journal
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