Coursera founder Andrew Ng says Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun's online education critique isn't quite right. Ng is looks to the corporate MOOC market for revenue and perhaps profits.
Via Mark Smithers
|Current selected tag: MOOCs. Clear.|
Your new post is loading...
Gradually, higher ed is realizing that we can't just churn out websites and jump onto social platforms and hope for the best; we have to communicate with purpose if we want to succeed.
Via Integrated Marketing Communications @ Pepperdine University
Nothing has more potential to let us reimagine higher education than massive open online course, or MOOC, platforms.
LORD knows there’s a lot of bad news in the world today to get you down, but there is one big thing happening that leaves me incredibly hopeful about the future, and that is the budding revolution in global online higher education. Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems. And nothing has more potential to enable us to reimagine higher education than the massive open online course, or MOOC, platforms that are being developed by the likes of Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and companies like Coursera and Udacity.
Last May I wrote about Coursera — co-founded by the Stanford computer scientists Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng — just after it opened. Two weeks ago, I went back out to Palo Alto to check in on them. When I visited last May, about 300,000 people were taking 38 courses taught by Stanford professors and a few other elite universities. Today, they have 2.4 million students, taking 214 courses from 33 universities, including eight international ones.
Anant Agarwal, the former director of M.I.T.’s artificial intelligence lab, is now president of edX, a nonprofit MOOC that M.I.T. and Harvard are jointly building. Agarwal told me that since May, some 155,000 students from around the world have taken edX’s first course: an M.I.T. intro class on circuits. “That is greater than the total number of M.I.T. alumni in its 150-year history,” he said.
Yes, only a small percentage complete all the work, and even they still tend to be from the middle and upper classes of their societies, but I am convinced that within five years these platforms will reach a much broader demographic. Imagine how this might change U.S. foreign aid. For relatively little money, the U.S. could rent space in an Egyptian village, install two dozen computers and high-speed satellite Internet access, hire a local teacher as a facilitator, and invite in any Egyptian who wanted to take online courses with the best professors in the world, subtitled in Arabic.
YOU just have to hear the stories told by the pioneers in this industry to appreciate its revolutionary potential. One of Koller’s favorites is about “Daniel,” a 17-year-old with autism who communicates mainly by computer. He took an online modern poetry class from Penn. He and his parents wrote that the combination of rigorous academic curriculum, which requires Daniel to stay on task, and the online learning system that does not strain his social skills, attention deficits or force him to look anyone in the eye, enable him to better manage his autism. Koller shared a letter from Daniel, in which he wrote: “Please tell Coursera and Penn my story. I am a 17-year-old boy emerging from autism. I can’t yet sit still in a classroom so [your course] was my first real course ever. During the course, I had to keep pace with the class, which is unheard-of in special ed. Now I know I can benefit from having to work hard and enjoy being in sync with the world.”
One member of the Coursera team who recently took a Coursera course on sustainability told me that it was so much more interesting than a similar course he had taken as an undergrad. The online course included students from all over the world, from different climates, incomes levels and geographies, and, as a result, “the discussions that happened in that course were so much more valuable and interesting than with people of similar geography and income level” in a typical American college.
Mitch Duneier, a Princeton sociology professor, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education in the fall about his experience teaching a class through Coursera: “A few months ago, just as the campus of Princeton University had grown nearly silent after commencement, 40,000 students from 113 countries arrived here via the Internet to take a free course in introductory sociology. ... My opening discussion of C. Wright Mills’s classic 1959 book, ‘The Sociological Imagination,’ was a close reading of the text, in which I reviewed a key chapter line by line. I asked students to follow along in their own copies, as I do in the lecture hall. When I give this lecture on the Princeton campus, I usually receive a few penetrating questions. In this case, however, within a few hours of posting the online version, the course forums came alive with hundreds of comments and questions. Several days later there were thousands. ... Within three weeks I had received more feedback on my sociological ideas than I had in a career of teaching, which significantly influenced each of my subsequent lectures and seminars.”
Agarwal of edX tells of a student in Cairo who was taking the circuits course and was having difficulty. In the class’s online forum, where students help each other with homework, he posted that he was dropping out. In response, other students in Cairo in the same class invited him to meet at a teahouse, where they offered to help him stay in the course. A 15-year-old student in Mongolia, who took the same class as part of a blended course and received a perfect score on the final exam, added Agarwal, is now applying to M.I.T. and the University of California, Berkeley.
As we look to the future of higher education, said the M.I.T. president, L. Rafael Reif, something that we now call a “degree” will be a concept “connected with bricks and mortar” — and traditional on-campus experiences that will increasingly leverage technology and the Internet to enhance classroom and laboratory work. Alongside that, though, said Reif, many universities will offer online courses to students anywhere in the world, in which they will earn “credentials” — certificates that testify that they have done the work and passed all the exams. The process of developing credible credentials that verify that the student has adequately mastered the subject — and did not cheat — and can be counted on by employers is still being perfected by all the MOOCs. But once it is, this phenomenon will really scale.
I can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world — some computing from Stanford, some entrepreneurship from Wharton, some ethics from Brandeis, some literature from Edinburgh — paying only the nominal fee for the certificates of completion. It will change teaching, learning and the pathway to employment. “There is a new world unfolding,” said Reif, “and everyone will have to adapt.”
Massively open online classes (MOOCs) are the single most important technological development of the millennium so far.
The advent of massively open online classes (MOOCs) is the single most important technological development of the millennium so far. I say this for two main reasons. First, for the enormously transformative impact MOOCs can have on literally billions of people in the world. Second, for the equally disruptive effect MOOCs will inevitably have on the global education industry.
While at Davos, I was fortunate to attend an amazing panel — my favorite of the conference — with a murderer's row of speakers. Moderated by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, the list of speakers: Larry Summers, former president of Harvard; Bill Gates; Peter Theil, a partner at Founder's Fund; Rafael Reif, president of MIT; Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity; Daphne Koller, CEO of Coursera, and a 12-year-old Pakistani girl who has taken a number of Stanford physics classes through Udacity. Below is a collection of some of the highlighted comments from this remarkable panel as well as a couple from audience members who were given an opportunity to comment.
Why this disruption is happening:
Peter Thiel, partner, Founders Fund
"You have to ask yourself, 'What is the nature of education as a good?' Ideally you want it to be learning. But it also functions as insurance. Parents will pay a lot of money for insurance against cracks in our society. Education as insurance has something to be said because it connects to the economy. You know computer science, you can get a job. But education also functions as a tournament. You do well if you go to a top school but for everyone else the diploma is a dunce hat in disguise. People need to understand what they're trying to do? Is it insurance? A tournament? Learning?"
Where we are in the evolution of this change:
Larry Summers, former President of Harvard
Daphne Koller, founder of Coursera
Raphael Reif, president of MIT
Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft
On what an online education world means for hiring and talent for educators:
We can't presume to know what format will work in the future:
What's next in this space?
Sebastian Thrun, CEO of uDacity
Jimmy Wales, founder, Wikipedia
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Founder Grameen Bank
Across-the-board pressure on all of the revenue sources that support higher education has prompted Moody’s Investors Service to issue a negative short-term outlook for the entire sector in a report issued on Wednesday.
“It basically means that there’s nowhere to hide, even for diversified market leaders, the top-tier universities,” said Eva Bogaty, the credit-rating agency’s assistant vice president and analyst who wrote the report. For the past two years, research universities have escaped criticism from Moody’s because of their diverse sources of revenue. However, state-government appropriations, investment earnings, gifts, research grants, and patient-care reimbursements are all facing economic pressure, the report says.
The outlook report, which is released annually at the beginning of the calendar year, expresses the agency’s expectations for the fundamental credit conditions of the industry over the next 12 to 18 months. Moody’s attributed its negative outlook to five key factors:
Depressed family incomes and household net worth have suppressed net tuition growth.All revenue sources are strained; financial diversity no longer helps colleges.Rising student debt and default rates have hurt perceptions of the value of a diploma.Public and political scrutiny has increased the risk of more regulation.Colleges face a challenging future without strong leadership and better governance.
The report says that the outlook could be changed to stable if the nation’s economic growth and housing market improve, the unemployment rate drops below 6.5 percent, and stock-market returns are strongly positive in consecutive years. But, Ms. Kedem added, “we don’t expect these pressures to go away quickly.”
The report also casts an eye on emerging and potentially destabilizing trends like the rise of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and offers forecasts on sectors related to traditional four-year higher education.
Community colleges, it says, are being challenged by enrollment declines and potential cuts in Pell Grants. Nonprofit institutions, including public universities’ foundations, will face pressure as Congress scrutinizes tax deductions for charitable contributions. Revenue and enrollment declines continue to hurt for-profit higher-education companies, the report asserts. Global higher education is still nagged by some uncertainties, but the long-term prospects for that sector remain strong, Moody’s says.