“Disadvantaged populations need higher-touch services, not self-services,” said Peter Stokes, an expert on education innovation at Northeastern University.

Abdoulaye Coulibaly, 26, is an English master’s student at Felix Houphouet Boigny University in the West African nation of Ivory Coast. He does not believe online education can or should replace the classroom.

“We’re going to be very lazy online,” he said. “If you put my class online I’m going to take it and I’m not going to come to the university again. We need to come to class. They’re the teachers and they have to teach us. If we don’t understand, we need to ask questions. That’s the only way for us to understand.”