Two Massachusetts community colleges are trying a modified approach to an open online computer science course, but at different paces
At Bunker Hill, this classic expository-writing exercise was part of an introductory computer science course, leading to a discussion of how computer programs can go awry without precise definitions. While professors at Bunker Hill chose the peanut butter exercise, the online lectures that students watch at home and most of the assignments are from an M.I.T.computer science class originally offered as a “massive open online course,” or MOOC, free to the world, but not for credit.
In Bunker Hill’s modified program, though, students come to class twice a week, pay tuition and get credit. So Anant Agarwal, president of the M.I.T.-Harvard online collaboration, edX, calls the community college pilot program a SPOC, for “small private online course.”
“On campus, it’s not about bringing it to scale,” Dr. Agarwal said. “It’s about improving the pedagogy, finding the best way to teach the material. On campus, we can blend online videos and interaction with professors.”
New companies are partnering with universities to offer online courses, in an effort that could define the future of higher education — if anyone can figure out how to make money
In less than a year, Coursera has attracted $22 million in venture capital and has created so much buzz that some universities sound a bit defensive about not leaping onto the bandwagon.
¶Other approaches to online courses are emerging as well. Universities nationwide are increasing their online offerings, hoping to attract students around the world. New ventures like Udemy help individual professors put their courses online. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have each provided $30 million to create edX. Another Stanford spinoff, Udacity, has attracted more than a million students to its menu of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, along with $15 million in financing.
What fields and companies are students at LinkedIn's 10 biggest university networks going on to work in?
Following the news that it was dropping its minimum age to 14, LinkedIn announced the launch of University Pages this week. The pages give prospective students a way to connect with current students and alumni, as well as a look at where most of a school's graduates work and what fields they work in. It isn't hard to imagine the professional network's latest rollout growing to play a larger role in university admissions.
So how are schools measuring up so far? We took a look at the 10 U.S. institutions with the largest student and alumni networks, compiling the following list of the top employers and fields for each. The number of alumni employed at each company or in each field is noted in parentheses.
A few weeks ago, Knewton hosted our first annual Symposium on the future of higher education — a gathering of senior leadership from some of the world’s biggest and most innovative online universities, both public and private. We were joined by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, the father of “disruptive innovation” theory, who shared his thoughts on the coming disruption of higher education.
What is disruption?
Clayton began by providing a few familiar examples of disruptive innovation, i.e. “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of the market and then relentlessly moves up-market, eventually displacing established competitors.” Steel mini mills are his classic example. When mini mills first surfaced in the 1960s, they were very efficient but produced inferior steel to traditional integrated mills. Only the low-margin rebar market would use the mini mill steel. Instead of building mini mills themselves, the traditional mills just ceded this sector to focus on higher-margin products.
Soon the mini mills took over the rebar sector and pushed out the traditional mills. But with so much production, the price of rebar dropped. So the mini mills improved their technology enough to produce angle iron and bars and rods, both higher-quality and higher-margin products.
Before long the same thing happened with these products: mini mills took over, integrated mills focused further up-market, and the price of angle iron and bars and rods dropped. This cycle repeated twice more, first with structural steel and then with sheet steel (the last refuge of the traditional mill). The once low-end disruptors had pushed their way to the top and knocked the integrated mills out entirely.
What makes an industry ripe for disruption?
Every industry has a “technological core” that defines its product delivery. In the case of a disruptive innovation like the mini mill, a new technological core emerges. This enables the disruptor to start at the bottom of the market and, as profit and scale allow for further refinements to the technological core, move up-market. Without a disruptive new technological core, industries — even those that seem ripe for it — cannot be disrupted.
Take hotels: in order to move up-market, a hotel chain like Holiday Inn would have to replicate the amenities and services of, say, the Four Seasons. But that would require entirely new facilities, check-in procedures, staff and staff training, etc. Despite the fact that the Holiday Inn and the Four Seasons offer the same type of product — lodging — there is virtually no overlap between their technological cores.
Historically, the same was true for higher ed. For a community college to become the equivalent of an elite four-year institution would require it to replicate the four-year college’s services — from the quality of professors, to range of courses, to availability of campus housing, etc.
Succeeding in an online course requires many of the same healthy habits as a traditional course. However, there are some differences in an online environment that can surprise many students. Dr. Mindy Sloan, vice provost of Research & Innovation at Ashford University, offers the following tips to achieve online academic success.
What are the benefits for the vast majority of students who, for various reasons, are not able to benefit significantly from taking a MOOC? Indeed, can the technologies on which MOOCs are built offer any benefits to average students?
The more publicized trainwreck, though arguably the lesser significant of the two, was the partnership between San Jose State University and for-profit MOOC provider Udacity, initiated last January in a blaze of publicity by Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun and California governor Jerry Brown. The public-private agreement called for Udacity to support three remedial classes developed and run by professors at San Jose State.
The potential prize was big: The course fee was a mere $150 per student -- covered by foundation grants for the initial trial -- a fraction of the cost of a regular course. But when the results came in, the euphoria quickly evaporated. The passing rates were 29 percent, 44 percent and 51 percent, respectively, much lower than hoped for. As a result, the university and Udacity have announced that no further such courses would be offered until they had analyzed what went wrong.
The past years have witnessed the apparition of one of the largest educational revolutions of our time: many prognosticators trumpet how MOOCs and flipped classroom models are one of the most promising educational approaches of the last century. From every walk of life, individuals ranging from politicians to teachers to venture capitalists seem to be thrilled by the new doors opened by those innovations.
Paradoxically, those so-called “innovations” are incorporating none of the educational research produced over the past decades.
Educational researchers and National Academy Reports have argued for years that students aren’t simply vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge. Students construct their view of the world using their prior knowledge, they actively integrate new information with their existing cognitive structures and they think critically about the content taught when given opportunities to do so.
In numerous controlled and rigorous experiments, educational researchers have described how “tell-and-practice” classroom instructions are well-suited for supporting memorization of facts and procedures but prevent students from developing critical thinking and transferring their knowledge to new situations. MOOCs and flipped classrooms are merely recreating the same pedagogical structure without questioning the scientific validity of this model.
See how the biggest names in MOOCs compare side-by-side
They're not the only players in the MOOC market, but whether because of high-profile founders, big funding or broad reach, they're the three biggest. So how do EdX, Coursera and Udacity stack up against each other?
None of the companies is public, so hard numbers can be difficult to come by. But here’s a snapshot of each, including a short summary of each player and where each stands by the numbers in terms of funding and course enrollment, along with key partnerships and big news (good and bad) this year.
News, Articles and Community for higher education decision makers. Magazine published monthly, with daily news and blogs and online content. Archives available
An April 2013 report written by Rachel Fishman, an education policy analyst at the New America Foundation, stated that there are considerable benefits when state systems follow a more integrated approach toward building online education programs. These collaborative programs work to create “something that looks less like an unorganized collection of internet-based classes, and more like a true public university built around the tools of the information age—a kind of State U Online,” Fishman wrote.
The master’s degree offered by the Georgia Institute of Technology through massive open online courses has the potential to disrupt higher education
Next January, the Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a master’s degree in computer science through massive open online courses for a fraction of the on-campus cost, a first for an elite institution. If it even approaches its goal of drawing thousands of students, it could signal a change to the landscape of higher education.
Zvi Galil, the dean of the university’s College of Computing, expects that in the coming years, the program could attract up to 10,000 students annually, many from outside the United States and some who would not complete the full master’s degree. “Online, there’s no visa problem,” he said.
The program rests on an unusual partnership forged by Dr. Galil and Sebastian Thrun, a founder of Udacity, a Silicon Valley provider of the open online courses.
Although it is just one degree at one university, the prospect of a prestigious low-cost degree program has generated great interest. Some educators think the leap from individual noncredit courses to full degree programs could signal the next phase in the evolution of MOOCs — and bring real change to higher education.
Educators are harnessing online materials to meet the toughest challenges in higher education: giving more students access to college, and helping them graduate on time
Nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States arrive on campus needing remedial work before they can begin regular credit-bearing classes. That early detour can be costly, leading many to drop out, often in heavy debt and with diminished prospects of finding a job.
Meanwhile, shrinking state budgets have taken a heavy toll at public institutions, reducing the number of seats available in classes students must take to graduate. In California alone, higher education cuts have left hundreds of thousands of college students without access to classes they need.
To address both problems and keep students on track to graduation, universities are beginning to experiment with adding the new “massive open online courses,” created to deliver elite college instruction to anyone with an Internet connection, to their offerings.
Colleges are building global student bodies and trying to create models for massive open online courses, or MOOCs
The spread of MOOCs is likely to have wide fallout. Lower-tier colleges, already facing resistance over high tuition, may have trouble convincing students that their courses are worth the price. And some experts voice reservations about how online learning can be assessed and warn of the potential for cheating.
MOOCs first landed in the spotlight last year, when Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford professor, offered a free artificial-intelligence course, attracting 160,000 students in 190 nations. The resulting storm of publicity galvanized elite research universities across the country to begin to open higher education to everyone — with the hope of perhaps, eventually, making money doing so.
The expansion has been dizzying. Millions of students are now enrolled in hundreds of online courses, including those offered by Udacity, Mr. Thrun’s spinoff company; edX, a joint venture of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Coursera, a Stanford spinoff that is offering Professor Duneier’s course and 200 others.
We take a look at the current state of online learning and dive into the idea that it'll be coming soon to a high school near you
Normally, finding out your kids are watching their teacher on YouTube would cause panic, but not if the video they are watching is a math lecture about determining probability. Perhaps your child is having difficulty with learning how to use direct object pronouns in Spanish, and is going online to review lectures.
This digital approach called “flipping the classroom” is already being used by K-12 teachers across the nation.
The use of flipped classes (those with an at-home, online component for instruction, and in-class work with teacher support), and other blended classrooms has been on the rise since its debut in 2004, and teachers support the change. In fact, 60 percent of teachers who use flipped learning technology believe the online aspect motivates students. Students feel that classes with an online learning component give them a more personal learning environment, one they have more control over.
For the first time in American history, colleges could be judged on how their graduates perform in the real world and give the private sector a way to compete on a common metric. Later today, President Obama will unveil a new plan to overhaul college ratings, funding requirements and loan repayment, as well as promote innovations in online learning. If the still-vague plan is implemented with teeth, it could lead to a radical overhaul in the educational establishment, since few universities are currently structured to impart job-relevant skills.
Basics Of The Plan
Ostensibly about “college affordability,” Obama’s plan will have four major components (there’s a more thorough summary over at WonkBlog and there’s a copy of the official talking points over at Time):
–Overhaul college rankings based on college affordability and graduation outcomes, including loan repayment and changes in tuition. Rankings will take the form of a swanky visual calculator, the College Scorecard.–Tie financial aid and grants to the new ranking by 2018. As of 2010, 82 percent of students were on some type of federal aid, so loan rates could significantly impact the financial incentive to attend some schools.–Promote new online learning innovations that improve student outcomes. The president appears particularly impressed by Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) startups, including Coursera, which was started by two Stanford computer science teachers and inks deals with major universities to put their classes online for free.–College loan repayment will be capped to percent of earnings, so-called “Pay As You Earn.”
Universities across the country are experimenting with MOOCs (massive open online courses) as a way to make higher education more affordable and accessible to all students
After watching the online Justice course, taught by Harvard Professor Michael Sandel, the philosophy faculty collectively wrote an open letter in protest. Their bottom line: it would be insulting to force diverse state university students to watch an Ivy League professor lecture to his affluent class.
“We have a very diverse student body and we’re very proud of that,” Hadreas said. “But they would watch Michael Sandel teach Harvard students and he would interpolate into his talks and dialogues how privileged they were. And they were for the most part, certainly to a greater extent, white than our student body. So we’ve got, on the one hand, this strange sort of upstairs/downstairs situation where the lower-class people could look at how the upper-class people were being educated. We thought that was just flat out insulting, in a way, to the students and certainly not pedagogically reinforcing.”
Hadreas said advocates of using MOOCs at state schools also pay short shrift to the “digital divide” between different races and classes of students. Early into a San Jose State and Udacity pilot project that developed MOOCs for college credit, instructors realized some high school participants didn’t have computers.
In a recent webinar I discussed with participants some very interesting data from the Corporate Leadership Council’s ‘Training Effectiveness Dashboard’ study. This research was part of the Corporate Executive Board’s ‘Building High Performance Capability for the New Work Environment’ report published towards the end of 2012.
The CEB study was particularly focused on ‘network performance’ – the outcomes achieved not alone, but with and through others. This is the way most work gets done.
This is the ‘20’ part of the 70:20:10 model.
The study involved more than 35,000 employees at more than 40 organisations, and CLOs were interviewed at 122 organisations.
There were three clear findings:
1. There is widespread agreement amongst senior executives, line managers and HR directors that ‘breakthrough performance’ is needed to meet immediate business goals. The average performance uplift needed to meet business goals was determined to be between 20-25% in the next 12 months.
2. ‘What got us here won’t get us there’. In other words, simply improving traditional training approaches – even introducing learning technologies into the classroom model – will not achieve the improvements needed.
A diagram from the study (below) illustrates this second point. Although the effectiveness of classroom training is seen as having improved, further improvements will not close the ‘breakthrough performance’ gap.
3. Organisations will only achieve ‘breakthrough performance’ and achieve their business goals when employees go beyond individual task performance and demonstrate high ‘network performance’. In other words, we need to plan and work not only at building individual capability, but also team and collaborative and co-operative capabilities.
This article suggests that MOOCs should be seen within the framework of postindustrial education and cognitive capitalism where social media has become the dominant culture.
Ernst & Young’s Universities of the Future carries the line, “A thousand year old industry on the cusp of profound change.” The report suggests that the current Australian university model “will prove unviable in all but a few cases.” It identifies five major “drivers of change”: democratization of knowledge and access, contestability of markets and funding, digital technologies, global mobility and integration with industry.
Before Intel giant McAfee revamped its new-hire orientation, it was over 80 hours long and consisted of roughly 40 hours of pre-work, 5 days of on-site training, and a “robust” syllabus of post-work, meant to be completed at home
In a recent Future Workplace survey, completed by 195 corporate learning and HR professionals, 70 percent of respondents said they saw opportunities to integrate MOOCs into their own company’s learning programs. Even further, this sample of respondents made six recommendations for how MOOC providers could adapt to needs of corporations:
What are some of the benefits of an online education?
A: For Excelsior’s older, post-traditional students, there are many benefits to studying online. Starting with cost, online students can remain fully employed while meeting their educational goals, eliminating opportunity costs. They also avoid the cost of commuting, parking (always a challenge with an on-campus program) and child care, for those with a family.
Other benefits include the ability to choose the “perfect program” from anywhere in the world, not just those next door. This freedom of choice is matched with the flexibility to study at times and places of the student’s choosing, when, presumably, the student is most ready to learn.
A full list of the many benefits might also include:
Instruction that takes different learning styles into consideration and allows for as much repetition as needed to ensure comprehension.24/7 support services, including tutoring, technical services, peer networking and the ability to set appointments with a faculty member or academic advisor.Ability to take courses year around. No forced summer breaks.The opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge expected by major employers, such as virtual team participation, conducting online research and projects and engaging in cross cultural communication via technology.
As universities evolve, classrooms will not disappear, but what happens in them will change dramatically
Competency based models are another way to meet student needs and could be the best option for adult learners who have some college credit, a lot of on-the-job experience and little time to waste. Competency based models measure learning outcomes rather than classroom time, and students take exams that assess whether or not they have mastered the competencies needed for the credential of their choice. Under this model, professors become advisors and guides rather than lecturers. While some learning will take place face to face, this model can also utilize technology to allow for online discussion or Q and A sessions, easing the time and travel burden for students and also some of the cost burden for universities.
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