With more enrolling in online classes, would standardization increase efficiency or prove more problematic?

CCAP writes at Forbes:

Standardized Online Classes Would Lead Toward Increased Efficency in Higher Education

Colleges and universities are offering more and more online classes to their students. Textbook companies like Pearson PLC are beginning to standardize these classes by designing online courses and selling them to different universities. These courses, with less labor from professors, promise a more efficient delivery of content to the student and therefore represent a threat to professors, especially adjuncts. After all, what is the point of having instructors in the classroom if a computer can teach everything? But there’s no reason to think that these classes will completely replace instructors. While some adjunct professors will lose their jobs, instructors will still be necessary. Thanks to the increases in productivity from the standardized online course, they will be able to teach more with less labor, and the improved efficiency of teaching can greatly benefit the students.

It’s important to note that most professors will be relatively unaffected by the standardization: many classes can’t be standardized or even taught online. Humanities courses and upper-level courses (regardless of subject) simply can’t be prepackaged, and are better taught in person. Discussion and direct interaction with instructors are crucial for these classes.

Nonetheless, many courses can be taught successfully online. Think of a relatively low-level college math course, like Calculus I. The material in the class – derivatives, applications of differentiation, some basic integration, etc. – is fairly standard, and to a certain extent textbooks actually start to standardize the material being taught. Because of this, opportunities for discussion and the expertise of the professor are relatively unimportant, particularly when compared with higher level classes. What is important is the presentation of the material. Standardized online courses will have to do this effectively to compete with institution specific courses. Therefore, the online standardization will actually serve to improve the way the material is presented to students.