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MOOCs have been a heated subject of media attention lately, even attracting controversy in California's educational system. In theory, these large-scale free online courses (often featuring star professors from blue-ribbon universities) sound like an excellent opportunity for any person wishing to study subjects for no cost on their own. With the barriers of tuition and distance to conventional education, alternative, democratic and accessible ways of continuing studies through MOOCs, delivered online via YouTube or other websites, can seem like a dream come true. Meanwhile, the increasing difficulty for degree-seeking students of getting into required classes in many colleges, due to education cutbacks and shortages, likewise makes the choice to take a for-credit class that accepts unlimited students an appealing alternative.

So what is a MOOC? MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and is a form of online learning. Online learning is nothing new - free non-credit courses in several subjects have been offered by different instructors and companies on the web for some time now. Also, colleges have offered their own online for-credit courses taught by instructors employed by the college for their own enrolled student body.

What makes the MOOC different is that it is a program created by an outside vendor who licenses its courses to the university, who then offers them as part of their curriculum in a public-private partnership. The courses are taught by a videotaped instructor who is often part of another college, with the coursework and discussion guided by a teaching assistant contracted by the university, at a much cheaper rate than regular faculty. Corporations such as Coursera, Udacity, edX, Udemy and others have already contracted with universities (Duke, MIT, University of Michigan, and San Jose State University among them) to offer courses.

Increasingly the conversation is revolving around whether these courses are rigorous enough to be taken for college credit, how this would displace traditional faculty, and whether this "democratic" method of accessing education would mostly fall on working-class students, with wealthy students still getting personal attention in small classrooms with an instructor.

Five courses from Coursera have been granted for-credit status recently and college faculty have begun sounding the alarm about the effect this will have on students. MOOCs are notorious for a low completion rate (85 percent - 95 percent of students drop out or fail MOOCs), low instructional contact, and requiring fees (up to $90-$99) to enroll in these courses.

The New York Times reports: "Coursera recently announced another route to help students earn credit for its courses - and produce revenue. The company has arranged for the American Council on Education, the umbrella group of higher education, to have subject experts assess whether several courses are worthy of transfer credits. If the experts say they are, students who successfully complete those courses could take an identity-verified proctored exam, pay a fee and get an ACE Credit transcript, a certification that 2,000 universities already accept for credit.

"Under Coursera's contracts, the company gets most of the revenue; the universities keep 6 percent to 15 percent of the revenue, and 20 percent of gross profits. The contracts describe several monetizing possibilities, including charging for extras like manual grading or tutoring."

Faculty at California's San Jose State University recently issued a letter from their union, the California Faculty Association, stating their refusal to use MOOC course material. Included was a ringing criticism that goes to the heart of the discussion of student access to education:

"In an environment where faculty are constantly reminded that fewer resources for public universities are available, CFA is disturbed that President Qayoumi is not actively lobbying Sacramento and Silicon Valley venture capitalists for more public funding of education. The people with whom he associates, members of the Silicon Valley elite, are the very people who have succeeded in privatizing the wealth generated by our society and making the rules that reduce their tax obligations to California. The partnerships with Udacity and edX will put more tax dollars into the pockets of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and at the expense of the State's taxpayers."

Public college education in California used to be free to students. Universities in California offering accessible education were one of the main reasons Silicon Valley gained prominence as a locus of technological advancement and high profits. Companies that took advantage of this resource are now using loopholes in tax codesto avoid paying taxes to support public university education.

The growing wealth disparity in Silicon Valley points to a divide between the educated class of tech workers and working families seeing their own resources shrink. Dangling a "solution" like MOOCs for low-income students relying on public universities to attain degrees and well-paying jobs is predatory. Educational parity should begin with extracting, via taxes, the wealth of the region to fund accessible public education. MOOCs are corporations offering a bait-and-switch educational rental program in hopes of absorbing even more public money.

via People's World

(I realize the topic of MOOCs is already on the progressive radar and is also much discussed in journals of higher education, but I thought a primer and a broad outline of a basic discussion article might be helpful for people who wish to introduce the topic to a wider circle of activists who might be unfamiliar with the issue.  Thank you! --Starry)

Originally posted to Starry Messenger on Tue May 21, 2013 at 08:07 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Could you explain and expand on this: (7+ / 0-)
    MOOCs are corporations offering a bait-and-switch educational rental program in hopes of absorbing even more public money.
    What is the bait and switch, and what public money are MOOCs taking?

    'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

    by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Tue May 21, 2013 at 08:30:39 PM PDT

    •  Happy to (14+ / 0-)

      To my thinking, the "bait and switch" is the narrative that bricks and mortar classes are no longer feasible in servicing an expanding student body that finds class offerings limited.  MOOCs are becoming part of a body of thought that resources are so tight that only a massive and cheap alternative can meet the needs.  

      I disagree, and think that a shifting of priorities would better meet the educational needs.  

      To expand on the subject of money, the fees paid to MOOCs for certification, etc. will probably be largely from student loans, or money that would have otherwise gone to a bricks and mortar college.  It would be diverting funds to its own company, which would take it away from the pool of funds that universities use to operate.  

      This has an overall effect on the ecology of higher learning--with a low-level of completion of a MOOC (which are moving into taking over the teaching of remedial courses, especially), the chances for a student to move forward with their education will also diminish, which means less money for the bricks and mortar.    

       

      •  Rosi - I think many people feel that the only (3+ / 0-)

        way to dramatically reduce the cost of a BA/BS is to reduce the amount of time students are on campus from 12 quarters to 6-8 quarters, depending on the degree. Obviously some classes that, for example, require labs could never be taught online. However, the resident 12 quarter BA/BS has to change to bring the cost of a college education in line with the current economic reality. We have students heavily burdened with debt and little realistic prospect of paying the debt off in a timely manner.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue May 21, 2013 at 09:22:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm 100% against students incurring crippling debt (15+ / 0-)

          Totally.  

          I just think it is shocking we are collectively having this conversation when even today Apple came out saying that they want even lower corporate taxes.  It is this tax avoidance that is helping to create the current economic reality.  

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

          "Apple has called for US corporate tax rates to be slashed after it admitted sheltering at least $30bn (£20bn) of international profits in Irish subsidiaries that pay no tax at all.

          In a dramatic display of how threats from multinational corporations are driving down taxes across the world, chief executive Tim Cook warned Congress that he would refuse to repatriate a total of $100bn stashed offshore unless it acted to slash the 35% US rate.

          Cook said the tax rate for repatriated money should be set "in single digits" to persuade companies to bring it back. Standard tax for US profits should be, he said, in the "mid 20s".

          {snip}

          The only taxes paid were on the interest earned by the cash pile and small sums in local markets. Senate investigators allege a total of $70bn has been sheltered this way in four years."  

          And that's just one company.  Bringing this money back could fund educational opportunities again.  Could it be done? I don't know, but I think it should be tried before handing over education to companies that are (or will be soon) connected to the companies that are withholding money from tax avoidance.  

          •  Rosi - this is cash earned outside the US (6+ / 0-)

            There is no logical basis for the US to tax earnings from sales in other countries. Nearly all the G20 only tax domestic profits and make no attempt to tax international profits. No company, not just Apple, is going to pay 35% to bring that cash back to the US. They can invest that cash anywhere in the world, except the US. However, when Congress has lowered the rate to 5% lots of companies have repatriated offshore cash and the Treasury receives a windfall. The Congress doesn't have a string that can bring this cash back to the US and tax it.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue May 21, 2013 at 11:19:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This point can't be stressed enough. (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MarkC, VClib, Texknight, gramofsam1, nextstep

              There are diaries and comments strewn all over the site at the moment that seem to be missing this key point (at least in regards to Apple). The offshore cash was earned abroad — it was never in the U.S. in the first place.

              People are confusing it with the case where fortunes are accumulated via rent-seeking within the U.S., and then whisked out of the country, offshore to the Cayman Islands and so forth.

              The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

              by lotlizard on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:44:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It depends on how the books of the various (15+ / 0-)

                interrelated companies are set up, and how aggressively the company charges off expenses to the US entities.

                Of course, the books will show that the profits are earned abroad if all the income is recorded as having been earned abroad, and if a greater proportion of the expenses are charged against the U.S. entity.

                For instance, if the royalties and licensing rights (which may have been developed here in the United States) are transferred to the foreign subsidiary, they will be able to collect earnings from those fees and record them as overseas profit, even though it's all managed from the U.S. and the products are shipped to the U.S. for sales.

                The books show that the profits were earned abroad, but the actual management, R&D, production, and the final product may actually occur here in the U.S. with minimal payment of U.S. taxes.  

                It is even possible for companies to keep labor working in the U.S. on the books of foreign subsidiaries, avoiding U.S. federal and state income taxes for the workers involved.  

                •  In Apple's case, Tim Cook said they don't do that. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Texknight, concernedamerican
                  For instance, if the royalties and licensing rights (which may have been developed here in the United States) are transferred to the foreign subsidiary, they will be able to collect earnings from those fees and record them as overseas profit, even though it's all managed from the U.S. and the products are shipped to the U.S. for sales.
                  From summary of Cook's remarks in Forbes:
                  Apple does not move its intellectual property into offshore tax havens and use it to sell products back into the US in order to avoid US tax; it does not use revolving loans from foreign subsidiaries to fund its domestic operations; it does not hold money on a Caribbean island; and it does not have a bank account in the  Cayman Islands.
                  http://www.forbes.com/...

                  Also, Apple apparently paid $6 billion in taxes in fiscal year 2012 — compared to reportedly $0 / zip / nada for a long list of other companies, of which GE is the first that comes to mind.

                  (Apologies to the diarist, since all this is off-topic; after all, the diary is about education and MOOCs.)

                  The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

                  by lotlizard on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:42:18 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  So, has Cook opened the books to show us (10+ / 0-)

                    all where this money actually came from?

                    People glibly asserting that this money was "earned" offshore, as if they have any idea at all how the money was earned are being rather disingenuous. And yes, that would be you.

                    The bottom line is this: If Apple wants to be an American corporation, and make boatloads of money overseas, and ever bring it home to America, Apple can pay its fucking taxes.

                    If Apple wants to sit on its overseas cash, neither reinvesting it abroad nor bringing it home to its shareholders, then Apple can go fuck itself.

                    This is not nearly as subtle as the apologists are trying to make it out to be: It is just the same old song of someone with a lot of fucking money wanting to hold on to every last dime of it, in spiteful contempt of the society that enabled the "creation" of all that wealth.

                    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                    by UntimelyRippd on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:10:59 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  People are having a hard time because (7+ / 0-)

                      Apple is an important part of their lives. Many have admired Jobs for years and there are emotions wrapped up in this.

                      Apple's corporate side is responsible for FoxConn and they just as dirty as any other leach corp. functioning in the US, IMO.

                      "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

                      by high uintas on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:30:51 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Not just emotions—I read tech news every day (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        high uintas, Bluehawk

                        Along with emotion, there's at least some body or stream of detailed factual input there.

                        Now, it happens that in the tech world, a lot of analysts already argue that Samsung/Android is the new king and that Apple is doomed.

                        Personally I think they're full of it, but the stretch recently where Apple's stock fell from $700 to $380 didn't help any.

                        If anything, to me it showed that objective success in manufacturing doesn't matter that much — it's subjective sentiment on Wall Street that has the power to make or break a company.

                        I just wonder who stands to gain from taking down one of the few successful U.S. firms still making stuff.

                        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

                        by lotlizard on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:18:57 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Sorry, I had to post and then run. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          lotlizard

                          I get what you are talking about when it comes to US companies and I do understand that they are playing in a bigger field with competitors who are advantaged in so many ways.

                          Still, I can't shake the feeling that there must be some way to remain competitive and ethical. I know so little about the subject when it comes to the tech side that it may be that it's impossible.

                          "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

                          by high uintas on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:56:13 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  Why do folks think Apple isn't reinvesting abroad? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Texknight

                      Apple's not a bank or other FIRE (finance / insurance / real estate) type company that can just manipulate LIBOR or other market indicators to make money. It has to continue to invest like crazy or risk being eaten alive by the competition: Samsung, Chinese firms, Google, Amazon, Microsoft etc.

                      As for bringing money home to / benefiting its shareholders, that would seem to be the whole point of Cook's decisions re (1) dividends, (2) share buybacks on a huge scale, and (3) the recent bond issue.

                      Where I smell disingenousness is watching the New York Times and others target Apple in order to deflect attention away from other things, like the scandals in the FIRE sector, or the hemorrhage of national treasure through ever-expanding war and military spending.

                      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

                      by lotlizard on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:00:01 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  UR - as part of their financial reporting to the (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Texknight, gramofsam1

                      SEC there is a lot of detail about the source of Apple's worldwide revenues and profits. All of that information is available to the public through Apple's website or on edgar at the SEC's website.

                      "let's talk about that"

                      by VClib on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:56:55 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  I am sure that Apple has discovered the (0+ / 0-)

                    magic of 'transfer pricing' in handling their international accounts.  

                    There are so many ways to manage the flow of money by massaging the value of goods and services and other transactions between subsidiaries.

                    For International Accountants, it is a fine art.   And Apple has the best!

                •  Yes. Thanks for your comment. (0+ / 0-)

                  There is no way to tie down the money earned to a specific location.   Any of the large, international corporations can, by the assigning of costs to a particular location, defeat the tax collecting rules of a nation.  

                  Time is a long river.

                  by phonegery on Thu May 30, 2013 at 08:25:25 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I'm definitely no expert on int'l finances (6+ / 0-)

                but this is the article that intrigued me that I linked in my diary:

                http://www.law.com/...

                "But now companies are shifting their intangible assets—namely their intellectual property—to low-tax jurisdictions offshore and attributing expenses to countries with a higher tax rate. Critics say the companies are doing this strictly to lower their tax bills. And many, they attest, are a bit too creative with their accounting, so the valuations placed on their assets will work to the company's tax advantage. These types of profit-shifting arrangements cost the U.S. government as much as $60 billion in annual revenue, according to a study by Kimberly Clausing, an economics professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

                "At a time when we face such difficult budget choices, and when American families are facing a tax increase and cuts in critical programs from education to health care to food inspections to national defense, these offshore schemes are unacceptable," Levin said in a statement prior to the fall hearing.

                What are these transfer pricing schemes? There are variations, but they all involve arranging transactions between subsidiary companies to take advantage of the idiosyncrasies of varied national tax codes. The techniques are most prominently used by tech companies, which can easily shift large portions of profits to other countries by assigning intellectual property rights to subsidiaries abroad.

                In one of the more popular and complex schemes used, a company will route profits through subsidiaries in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the Caribbean—all of which are low- or no-tax jurisdictions. A parent company will transfer some of its IP to an Irish incorporated subsidiary—a holding company "tax-resident" in a no-tax jurisdiction, such as Bermuda. The Irish company will then sublicense the IP to another subsidiary, which is tax-resident in the Netherlands. Both of these companies may have few, if any, employees and may even operate from a post office box. The Dutch company will in turn sublicense the IP to a second Irish subsidiary that is wholly owned by the first Irish company. That second Irish subsidiary, which is an operating company with an office and employees, will sublicense the IP to other corporate subsidiaries outside the U.S."  

              •  that is the new reality (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lotlizard, Balto, VClib, unfangus

                The entire world economy has changed immeasurably and unalterably since the 1990's, but most progressives have not changed our thinking to match. Most of us are still thinking in the economic terms of the 1980's, when corporations tended to be nation-based, and while they often did ventures abroad, their primary market and source of profit was their own country.

                That is simply no longer true.  Corporations are now global, in every sense of the word.  There is simply no such thing any more as an "American" corporation or a "Chinese" corporation or a "British" corporation.  Not only do they all own big chunks of each other now, making them virtually indistinguishable, but they no longer limit themselves, either in thought or in economic reality, to their own nation.  Virtually every Fortune 500 corporation now makes the majority of its profits outside its "home" country.  GM, for instance, makes and sells more cars in China than it does in the US, and has for years now. Most Japanese cars sold in the US are MADE in the US.  The whole idea of "nation-states" is now economically irrelevant. Corporations move their pieces all over the global chessboard, and national governments are utterly powerless to stop them.

                Until we progressives lose our 1980's-era nation-based thinking, and begin to look at the global economy as it actually is, we will never be able to even understand how and why the corporados do what they do, much less make any effective efforts to control them.

                The US can pass any laws it likes--the corporados don't care.  They can pack up their entire operation and move it to Somalia, where the US laws can't touch them. And if Somalia passes laws, they can move again in instant to Bangladesh, or Indonesia, or Surinam, or wherever the hell else they want to.

                Nation-states and national governments, in the global economic sphere, simply don't matter anymore.  It is long past the time when progressives MUST realize that.

              •  I have to pay US income tax (4+ / 0-)

                on part of my salary that is earned in Canada, because my salary is higher than some arbitrary number selected by the IRS. If people have to do it, and corporations are people, then corporations should also have to do it.

                Really, though, I don't think that corporations are people, nor do I think that I should have to pay US taxes on Canadian income.

            •  one of the reasons why "nations" were first formed (6+ / 0-)

              wayyy back in the 17th century, is because the rising merchant trader class found itself being crippled by a bewildering patchwork quilt of hundreds of local feudal taxes, tolls, coinage, and laws. By unifying all the little local fiefdoms into a single nation-state with a single national government, the merchants were able to operate better within a single legal framework that applied everywhere to everybody, and which set a single regimen of taxes, tolls, etc etc etc.

              Today, that situation is being replayed, but this time at the global level. Global megacorporations now face the same situation as the medieval trader did--a widely varying patchwork of local tax structures, regulations, tariffs and currencies. Some of them, like the varying tax rates and currency exchange rates, the corporations are able to utilize to their advantage.  But the basic problem remains----it is harder to operate globally when the laws and regulations are different everywhere.

              Their solution is the very same one used by the medieval traders---unifying all the disparate localities (nations) under a single global central authority who can impose and enforce a single set of rules that everyone everywhere must follow. And indeed the corporados have already begun that process--that is precisely the role of the GATT treaty and the WTO which enforces it. Sadly, those uniform global rules are written entirely by the corporados themselves, with no democratic input anywhere and no checks or balances on themselves. As a result of this global structure, national governments--even big and powerful ones like ours--are now entirely powerless. On the global chessboard, the US government only controls one or two squares--the corporations can roam the entire board.  If the US, or any other national government, passes anything the corporados don't like, they can just pull up stakes and move their entire operations elsewhere, where the US is powerless to reach them. And that is precisely what is happening.

              What we as progressives must do is insure that the global rules that everyone has to live under include the things that help PEOPLE and not just corporations---things like global wage standards, product safety standards, workplace safety rules, environmental protections, and also things like a single uniform global tax structure that eliminates the possibility of using varying national tax structures to game the system. The corporations are now global. Any efforts to control them (or tax them) must be global as well. And since the corporations will not accept any of those things voluntarily, we will need to force them, one way or another.

              That will of course be a long and hard fight--and it may even turn out to be very bloody and violent at times.  But it MUST be done. We simply have no alternative.

        •  The best way to dramatically reduce the cost (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rosicrucian, pacplate

          (meaning the cost, regardless of who pays for it, as opposed to the price as paid by the students) is to nationalize the health care system, so that the universities aren't spending $20,000 a year per employee on health care.

          The best way to dramatically reduce the price is simple -- take the money away from the plutocrats, who have stolen it (or in many cases, simply manufactured it) via our rigged systems of financialization and intellectual property.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:53:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  UR - under your view of a single payer (0+ / 0-)

            health plan would employers, such as universities, pay nothing into the system? Assuming that the entire system would be more efficient, and less expensive, would the entire burden of paying for healthcare fall completely on employees?

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:06:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are you really asking me how Single Payer systems (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Kevskos

              work? really?

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:45:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  UP - I am asking how under your vision of single (0+ / 0-)

                payer for the US how it would be funded and if employers would have any role in the financing?

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:24:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  uh huh. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Kevskos

                  and what rough beast, exactly, lurks just over your shoulder as you make that innocent inquiry?

                  To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                  by UntimelyRippd on Wed May 22, 2013 at 12:09:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  UR - I always ask this question when someone (0+ / 0-)

                    comments that if we only had single payer employers would be free of healthcare costs. The funding for single payer is a very big number and the additional tax revenue to finance it has to come somewhere. In your single payer model who provides the financing?

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:50:01 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  uh huh. (0+ / 0-)

                      So in other words, you know exactly how Single Payer works, and your question is meant to be some sort of smug rhetorical slight of hand in which you demonstrate that I'm a dimwitted naif, lacking the necessary sophistication to grapple reasonably with the mysteries of the magical marketplace.

                      Which is exactly what I inferred when you first asked the question.

                      And exactly why I'm not going to bother answering. Play your games with some other patsy.

                      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                      by UntimelyRippd on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:32:23 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, fundamentally, healthcare should be (0+ / 0-)

              disconnected from the employer.  Wages would have to be more regulated so that people's living wage would include their healthcare social premium for all.
              I don't think that employers and businesses pay healthcare in other advanced countries.  

              •  qofdisks - it's a very mixed bag (0+ / 0-)

                As we all know all of the G20, except the US, has some form of single payer. Some use private insurance and independent healthcare providers and others have national government employees provide healthcare services. Some countries pay for healthcare out of general tax revenues and some have dedicated taxes. In many cases employers pay a special tax for healthcare and others don't. There is no consistent, optimal model for funding healthcare and that's why I am always curious what model people here at DKOS favor, particularly those who argue that single payer would remove a huge cost burden from employers.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:47:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I strongly favor a disconnect from the employer (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib

                  because if a society is going to take care of both young and old, then the productive, those in their prime, must pay for that.  Having insurance employer based tends to leave out people that are not working.  Everyone should have access to healthcare without fear of financial catastrophe.  

        •  I think the problem is thinking in dichotomies (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos, Rosicrucian

          Once the phrase "the only way" comes into play about monetary resources, you should start looking for a tilted playing field.

          There are many ways to reduce the amount of money that must come out of a student's pocket. Reducing on-campus hours is only one of them.

          •  rs - a big part of the cost of traditional college (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            qofdisks

            is living on or near campus for four years. If we could allow students to live at home half the time that would provide a big savings. And online courses could be offered at a fraction of the cost of courses on campus. Colleges would be able to substantially increase enrollment because they would not have to accommodate all students every quarter. Only a portion of the students would be on campus at any time.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:55:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The reality is though (0+ / 0-)

              that what makes a college or university really great is the interaction between students, and between students and faculty. The unauthorized, unofficial conversations that everyone has all the time, both with people in the same classes about classwork and with people who are doing different things.

              Commuting to college dramatically changes the experience, and not for the better.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Thu May 23, 2013 at 12:11:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  elfing - I agree and students wouldn't be (0+ / 0-)

                required to take online courses, but for those who can't afford four years of room and board and high tuition, what would you suggest?

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Thu May 23, 2013 at 07:45:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think we do ourselves a disservice (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  qofdisks, VClib

                  if we plan and expect that most kids can't afford college. It used to be that college was subsidized such that you could work your way through even a fairly high end college by waiting tables or doing other student work. That is no longer economic reality... and the lowered value of labor is as much a factor in that as high college costs. (Room and board should not have skyrocketed with respect to hourly wages if the problem is bloated college administration, and yet it has.)

                  We are also in a bit of a bubble in terms of student age population right now. When this bulge eases, it may be that colleges start magically finding ways to reduce costs.

                  However, I also think that there will always be worthy students who cannot get to a university for other reasons - being near family, unable to get the right visa, otherwise tied to location. And, I think there is a lot of room for people to work on a degree from their location working full time, one course at a time.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Thu May 23, 2013 at 07:56:27 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Let us not fool ourselves here. While at first (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rosicrucian

          glance this might seem like a viable and equatable alternative to more traditional higher education needs of current and future students/workers. What we are really talking about is offering a lower quality education experience/product that will be perceived as such by potential employers. So rather than improve upon the existing college education system and offer equal educational opportunity to more students, they find a way to monetize something that is clearly inferior in every way. In other words, it is much more profitable to offer a basically worthless product to more gullible and desperate people. Let's face it, potential employers will place the value of this "product" exactly where it belongs when it comes to hiring and salary relative to students with more economic power who are lucky enough to get a "real" higher quality/higher cost university education. It is just more of the same profits over people.

          "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.8., -6.6

          by helpImdrowning on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:04:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Ok, let me see... (12+ / 0-)
        To my thinking, the "bait and switch" is the narrative that bricks and mortar classes are no longer feasible in servicing an expanding student body that finds class offerings limited. [1]  MOOCs are becoming part of a body of thought that resources are so tight [2] that only a massive and cheap alternative [3] can meet the needs.  
        [1] That's the bait, but where is the switch? As far as I've been involved in MOOCs (I've done a few Coursera classes) I've found them reliable in delivering a competent online course experience. By offering online courses through a MOOC, universities and colleges can expand the sizes of the classes without spending money on infrastructure. Seems like a win to me.

        [2] If that's the perception, stop defunding public schools and universities.

        [3] MOOCs are delivering a repeatable, reliable standard of information delivery. Sitting on a seat in a lecture theatre cannot guarantee that.

        I disagree, and think that a shifting of priorities would better meet the educational needs.  
        Shifting priorities equals shifting money around. It doesn't address the very obvious demand for higher education as evidenced by your assumed need to write the diary (and the meteoric rise in student numbers in MOOCs - there aren't enough teachers or chairs to accommodate that!).
        To expand on the subject of money, the fees paid to MOOCs for certification, etc. will probably be largely from student loans, [4] or money that would have otherwise gone to a bricks and mortar college. [5]  It would be diverting funds to its own company (! it's called running a business!), which would take it away from the pool of funds that universities use to operate. [6]
        [4] non sequitur - you have no evidence to back up the claim that the majority of student loans are going to pay for MOOCs courses. In any case, what does it matter? If the courses the students are paying MOOCs for are recognised and given university credit for, who cares? It's money being used for its intended purpose.

        [5] The courses being offered on many MOOCs (at least on Coursera) ARE from bricks and mortar colleges. If a student is paying for a course through a MOOC for say a Duke Uni course, Duke gets a good chunk of that money without having to build new classrooms or employ a new teacher. The teachers they have are adding greatly to the bottom line by delivering their class to a much wider audience.

        [6] see [2] and [5] above

        This has an overall effect on the ecology of higher learning--with a low-level of completion of a MOOC [7] (which are moving into taking over the teaching of remedial courses, especially), the chances for a student to move forward with their education will also diminish, [8] which means less money for the bricks and mortar. [9]  
        [7] If a MOOC course is free, and not a credit granted course, who cares what the fail rate is. All that is wasted is the student's time (no university lecturers or Professors were harmed in the production of a fail mark). If however a student fails a credit rated, paid for MOOC course (data I haven't seen you produce), then they have wasted both their time and money (see [5] above).

        [8] Do you have any evidence for this?

        [9] Sigh. See [2] and [5] above.

        'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

        by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Tue May 21, 2013 at 10:06:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with you. (5+ / 0-)

          I've taken several Coursera courses (currently taking two writing-English courses to improve my writing). I would pay a fee because the content is excellent. I think many students treat these courses differently than a course that earns college credit. I know that I do because I'm learning for knowledge not a degree.

          Many of the students, from around the world, work or teach full time so they enjoy the freedom of a MOOC course. It is so amazing to discuss subjects with doctors, professors, biologists, engineers, and others from around the world.

          Learning involves personal effort so you are involved as much as you want to be. I am so grateful that these courses are here to stay!

        •  Perhaps wasting the students' time is a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos

          matter of consequence, if we are contemplating a major reworking of the systems by which our society distributes education.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:13:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's not a win (7+ / 0-)

          It's not a win because the answer to crowded classrooms is to hire more professors.  Higher education has not been hiring enough full-time professors for decades now, relying instead on adjuncts, that is, "professor temps" who are just as qualified but underpaid, with no job security.

          Hire more professors, open more classes on campus for students:  everybody wins!

          •  I think you might not understand the scale (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chrisfs, elfling

            of what we are talking about. In 12 months, Coursera alone has gathered 3.2 million users. Worldwide. Not just within easy commute of the school.

            While I agree that it would be nice to hire more Professors and teachers, and build more classrooms, it isn't going to happen fast enough to meet this huge demand. MOOCs offer a new revenue stream for universities which might fund physical expansion.

            Have you ever taken a MOOC class?

            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Wed May 22, 2013 at 01:07:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, but I'm a professor at a public university. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rosicrucian, KateCrashes, bluesophie

              And all I see is yet another scam intended to funnel public money into private pockets.

              •  Where is the scam? The websites provide (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Chrisfs

                a platform for universities to host their course content. Most of the courses are provided free of charge to the public. Joe or Jane Public can take as many or as few courses as their schedule allows. If that person wants to be given credit towards a Degree or Diploma they can pay a fee.

                'Scam' implies some form of deception resulting in some monetary loss to the consumer. If the service is free, what is the scam? Remember, if a fee is paid for an accredited course, and that credit is not honoured at another university, the business model will soon fall over and the reputation of the offending school will be damaged. I'd say that is a very strong incentive to make good on the credited courses and provide a product worthy of recognition.

                So, please explain to me and everyone reading this thread what the scam is and how it works.

                'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:38:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  BTW... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Chrisfs

                Are you accusing...

                Partners

                Coursera started in 2012 working with Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania.[14] 12 partners were added in July 2012[8] followed by 17 more in September 2012.[15] In February 2013, the company announced another 29 partner universities,[16] bringing the total number of partners to 62.[17]

                ... of being complicit in a wide ranging fraud?

                'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:56:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  How many class rooms can hold 18,000 students? (1+ / 0-)

                The Coursera Statistics class I am currently taking has 18,000 students in it. How many professors and classrooms would need to be built to contain that many people ?
                If a public university (or a state or a country) wants to shell out the money to build the infrastructure for MOOCs, then they are free to do so. Coursera was started by a professor from Stanford (Andrew Ng).
                Universities don't create their own individual textbooks specific to that university. Experts, often time professors, write them and they are distributed by private (or university) publishing companies.  Coursera (the one I am most familiar with), is the same sort of thing. It provides resources for academics to provide their courses to a larger audience.

                If you are a professor at a public university, I would suggest you contact Coursera and see what the process is for providing your own course.  

            •  Look, we recently brought in a MOOC instructor (0+ / 0-)

              from Penn who was downright evangelical about the promise of MOOCs. And he made the same kind of point that you did: that these courses are reaching the elderly shut-in who is not able to sit in on a conventional, bricks-and-mortar poetry course; the unconventional format is allowing a student very far over on the autism spectrum to manage the course at his own pace; the course is springing up poetry reading groups in Edinburgh, Hong Kong, etc.

              It's all very powerful, no doubt. But it's not the entirety of the point.

              All this still says nothing as to how the use of MOOCs by public universities as a workaround to the expense of hiring instructors is creating a world of have- and have-not institutions.

              The Ivy colleges can harness massive production values to produce MOOCs, and they may eventually see revenue from it. They'll certainly see heightened visibility and prestige.

              At the same time, the San Jose States of the world are licensing these MOOCs produced elsewhere, and are downsizing their academic labor force. We're already in a crisis situation in academia regarding academic labor: fewer and fewer tenure-track positions each year; most teaching done by precarious temporary labor without benefits, in the form of adjunct professors who are paid (a pittance) by-the-course.

              And now, along comes a new tool that obviates the need to even hire these perenially underemployed academics.

              All this is something that even the proselytizing Penn MOOC instructor acknowledges, and grapples with.

              If we're a progressive blog, we need to care about not just the effects of the service provision at one end, or the "revenue stream" for the already well-remunerated university administrators at the other. We need to also care about labor: about the effects of new technology on creating a "race to the bottom" in the world of intellectual labor.

              Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

              by Dale on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:33:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's beyond too late to be raising concerns about (0+ / 0-)

                reduced teacher hiring. This is what happens when public schools lose or have reduced funding. Running costs of a school don't go away or get reduced, so the bite goes to the only place it can - staffing. And not admin. either because it takes a specific number of people to run and maintain a school. So teachers go, or are simply not hired, and class sizes increase.

                Look, I saw MOOCs coming a long time ago (in internet years). Back in 2004 I witnessed the arrival of mature open source classroom management software (Moodle specifically, but it wasn't the only one). Even then, I knew that this would change education and knowledge delivery and was asked by my school to put together a program for our students. Now, in 2013 you have some of the most prestigious schools delivering courses this way.

                The bottom line is money. If colleges are to put staff on, they need funds. If a school can raise money through producing accredited MOOC courses, then so be it. A brick and mortar schools growth is limited by student proximity and their access to a chair. The big, well known and well respected schools are using MOOCs to get around those two problems.

                Demand for online education has been created by improved technology and a reduction in school funding (not just in America). Only one of those is reversible, and even that is unlikely in the current environment.

                'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu May 23, 2013 at 04:04:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  This seems like a complicated subject; I think (7+ / 0-)

    there are some legit courses out there so it may be hard to figure out who the bad actors are.

    Thanks for posting on this subject.

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Tue May 21, 2013 at 08:41:14 PM PDT

  •  I love Coursera! Udacity is great and edX is ok. (14+ / 0-)

    Yes, the dropout rate are usually high, but I do required to take certain classes as I had to when earning a degree. If I cannot understand what a prof is saying, I can leave the class. I do not have to stay because I need that class or because it is the only one that fits into my schedule, or any other reason students find themselves trapped in classes.

    My biggest critique is that many of these classes require more work than I did in some of my undergrad coursework! I think some class creators are trying inoculate themselves against charges of poor quality so they require quizzes and graded assignments due after each chapter-like in grade school!  There are also mandatory discussions and peer-evaluated papers, and midterm and final exams.

    They make the mistake that more metrics equate to actual learning of the material.And as with offline classes, "rigor" doesn't mean that students actually learn what they need. Satisfying metrics of a course does not mean you learned a darn thing.

    I am amazed at the number of incomplete critiques of MOOC's. Most that I have seen do not check out actual classes and assess the quality of the product and services delivered before drawing conclusions? How about talking to students?

    I can tell you that some MOOC's are indeed crap, but some are very good. I have been able to take classes that have allowed me to start learning skills that currently aren't available to me, for free, anywhere else.

    MOOC's are filing a need that the traditional model currently not set up to do. I think the more MOOC's producing marketable credentials the better. Everyone doesn't need or cannot afford the traditional model such as it is.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Tue May 21, 2013 at 09:57:44 PM PDT

    •  Wow, sorry for that initial sentence-attempt. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover, high uintas

      I really do need to stop writing long comments while watching Sports Center.

      The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

      by sebastianguy99 on Tue May 21, 2013 at 09:59:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Funny (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      m2old4bs

      I hate Coursera, like Udacity, and love Skillshare.

      Coursera locks you into their timetable (can only view lectures when they want you to, can only take quizzes and tests after specific lectures, have to do written assignments at specific times). This makes it hard for busy people to fit the class time into their real lives, which is otherwise a huge advantage to online learning. Udacity allows you to get through the course on your own pace.

      Coursera and Udacity both have the same flaw, though, in that the courses are organized in a standard lecture/test format. It's a largely passive model - not great from a depth of learning perspective, and even less so from a depth of learning per hour spent perspective.

      Skillshare classes, at least the ones I've taken, are project based. You're strongly encouraged to join up with a team of other students in the class, and to interact either online (google hangouts, mostly), or in the real world, to collaborate on your projects. I managed to take the equivalent of 5 years' classes on a wide variety of topics, from experts currently working in the field, in under 6 months. In addition, the teacher sets their own price for the class, and keeps most (it varies - but is on the order of 80 - 90%) of the money collected - so if you charge $20 for the class, and 5,000 students sign up, you're taking in $80,000 - $90,000.  The primary drawback with Skillshare is the relatively small number of classes available as they ramp up.

      In all MOOC cases, the student has to be highly motivated, because there is no built-in peer pressure to complete the course.  In addition, the lack of shared social space eliminates much of the serendipitous learning and network building that happens in brick & mortar schools (which, arguably, is the most important reason for the brick & mortar experience).  Those dorm room conversations, the chats in the student lounge, etc. are often the places for the largest discoveries in one's education.

      And finally, there is significant societal advantage to unionized teachers, as well as tenure. Being able to remain employed while exploring topics that may not be popular is critical to ensuring human knowledge continues expanding, rather than contracting.

      •  I didn't know about Skillshare sounds like Udemy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radical simplicity

        ..or perhaps better.

        I agree about the need for motivation, but one needs motivation in the traditional model as well. Some people need to be in a classroom, some do not. I think it depends on the subject matter.

        I also think it is time for us to accept that everyone doesn't live in the dorm or build networks at college. In fact, if you talk to people who decide to attend for-profit schools such as DeVry, many will tell you that they found that traditional social experience stifling. People who have to work a job, or two, are there for the degree and to maybe cultivate a couple of letters of recommendation.

        In any case, I think MOOC's done well are a threat to academics who cannot teach. If MOOC's survive, those people who can best teach web-friendly courses will come out on top. Perhaps you might be enrolled in University X, but you will take World History from some prof at Harvard or some upper division classes from lecturers at several outside universities. One great lecturer can now be taken by thousands of students not physically on the same campus. That is a threat on several levels to an academy use to captive audiences.

        The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

        by sebastianguy99 on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:21:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I took a Coursera course on material (25+ / 0-)

    that I was already familiar with, taught by the University of Edinburgh. I learned some new material and I had a chance to find out what was the current state of practice. The course I took was obscure enough that it would not be offered to me at any practical (for me) brick-and-mortar location.

    Was it great? Yes. Did it introduce me to the University and improve my impression of them? It did. Was it a substitute for actually going and attending a college course as part of a 4 year degree? No, not even close.

    It was a good experience for a motivated adult who was not going to be able to go to the university. And that is probably the best audience - not kids 18-24 who need not only the academic coursework, but also the experience of going and living in a semi-protected learning community as independent adults. That's honestly as important as the coursework.

    The other promise I see for MOOCs or other online learning is to allow high school students to take them online, supervised by a live high school teacher, as a supplement to the courses high schools can offer. You can have a teacher mentor a group of kids through their classes without having to be a subject matter expert, and without having to do the same kind of extensive prep for each class that they would if they were the lead teacher.

    There are people all over the world who just want to LEARN and just want a chance to see what it would be like to take one of these classes. When they are free and open to all and not for credit, it's no surprise that many people will not be motivated to complete.

    There will be challenges ahead, no question. Coursera will inevitably monetize itself... and this will probably not be a happy thing. Some people will try to use it to bypass educational resources rather than to augment what they have.

    So.... it's a thing. Will it make the world better or worse? Maybe both.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Tue May 21, 2013 at 10:29:43 PM PDT

    •  These "free" courses are already used to justify (14+ / 0-)

      the planning of single-design courses (with one selected textbook for as many sections--as many colleges as sign on--or are forced to sign on, with one pedagogical approach convenient to the educational corporation that can best hawk its star teachers).

       These classes  eventually will be taught--better said, coached, or administered--locally by persons without an expensive masters degree in the field being taught: no more classes tailor-made to individual student needs by specialists!

       All it takes is the right set of appointments in the right accreditation boards, as we have seen already at the state level, with political appointments yielding (for starters) fruitful core course cutbacks that help the student by moving them more quickly (and profitably) though the education pipeline.  For example: Can a basic level Spanish course be the equivalent of a Literature or Philosophy course? Why not!

      It can save three to six hours (time is money) for the STEM students! And so many classes are no longer offered because student demand collapsed. So now NO ONE can take a Brit Lit II, or an American Lit II (it starts with Huckleberry Finn anyway), or a World Lit II . . .gone. And I have yet to hear one set of teeth do a gnash.

      Oh, now, now, I can see the elitists squeeze tears of nostalgia on their keyboards, but I can only laugh a bit at your love for the  ancient ways of teaching subjects. . .which the rich will keep buying for their offspring, for some reason (probably better than a dating service).

      Just turn on the glorified T.V--oh, sorry--laptop--no-- tablet! and voila! Let the masses have education on the cheap in ways where they will be less likely to meddle in the affairs of the elites--just in time for the browning of America!

      Meanwhile, students who have the cash will enter prep schools and private universities where they can taste the latest vintage of the Enlightenment at a cozy seminar.

      Yes, change is coming--and if we do not commit to making public education the best in the world, we cannot commit to living in a land with the best citizens in the world.

      We WILL see bait and switch--in the charter school model, with ALEC in the wings for the final kill--if the visions for new learning technologies are imagined only inside the cash box of a corporate etho$.

      There is another way forward--but educators would have to regain the ear of power brokers.

      The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Clayton Act, Section 6.

      by Ignacio Magaloni on Tue May 21, 2013 at 11:29:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  flip the classroom (14+ / 0-)

      This can also fit into the flip the classroom model where the old "classroom work" is done at home and the "homework is done at school". So you can learn the basics at home and then come to class to actually discuss and use what you have learned. It does not have to be just one or the other.

      There are people all over the world who just want to LEARN and just want a chance to see what it would be like to take one of these classes.
      So true. When I looked at who was taking the Coursera courses with me I was delighted to see so many different age groups and countries. You have a lot of people learning for the fun of learning - and what can be wrong with that. Sure beats watching American Idol or whatever.

      There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

      by taonow on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:53:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The flip the classroom model is very promising (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pacplate, lgmcp, radical simplicity

        It requires a dramatic upgrade in community infrastructure, though, so that the kids have access to internet and devices at home. Our community is not served by broadband, and there is the additional problem that so many kids are used to getting their homework done on the bus, in a car, or at athletic practice, places without internet.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:48:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  My high school age kids do take MOOCs online (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, taonow

      We homeschool, and it's a huge advantage to have ready access to classes in required subject areas, taught at a level that challenges them.

  •  Your definition of MOOC is narrow (13+ / 0-)

    You seem to be reacting to the contracting structure of MOOCS at a few universities. That's actually not the norm.

    Many universities offer their own MOOCs. They feature their best lecturers on appealing topics, as public relations operations and invitations to enroll.

    A couple key points: First, these course are often "graded" by peer to peer interaction. Students are randomly paired with others and as a result they get feedback. So evaluating the lecturer's content would never be enough to determine whether it was worth credit.

    Second and more broadly, they offer a way to backfill a gap in one's education without tuition. Often tuition isn't necessary, nor is credit. My son often enrolls in a MOOC to supplement his background in a math area or a specific engineering process. About half of students who enroll in MOOCs actually finish them, but that's probably OK.

    Finally, they represent a real way for college level education to get to the many who could never afford it. They might represent the first and only counter-wave to the Reagan Stupidity Movement. There is immense social impact possible.

    I heard a vice-pres at Google talk about them in February. Google is looking hard at where this wave may be headed. What does that tell you?

  •  MOOCs are simply expensive to (11+ / 0-)

    produce. Whoever spends that money most likely wants to get it back.

    I don't think the question is so much about the form of delivery per sé. Rather, I think the real issue is what we understand learning to be and what role education plays in our society. I've listened to many lectures, for example, from various sources, online as well as face-to-face, but I see this more as becoming informed, which is a very low-level kind of learning.

    I tutored for one of the world's largest distance-learning universities for 15 years, and how the students gathered information was highly varied, what this particular university emphasize at that time, however, was face-to-face tutorials and day-schools. Why? All the information in the world won't do you any good if you can't do anything with it.

    Being able to do something with knowledge is a skill, but knowing which knowledge and skills to use to what degree of responsibility and autonomy, for instance, constitutes a competence. Competences can't be lectured and more than skills. I'm not convinced that MOOCs are designed to develop much more than information acquisition.

    If you think back over your own life, I'm pretty sure you will quickly realize that the things you have learned that are most worthwhile to you were imparted by another human being over some span of time after a relatively intense interaction. MOOCs have a long way to go to replicate this.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    by achronon on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:51:58 AM PDT

    •  Yes, exactly. (8+ / 0-)
      If you think back over your own life, I'm pretty sure you will quickly realize that the things you have learned that are most worthwhile to you were imparted by another human being over some span of time after a relatively intense interaction. MOOCs have a long way to go to replicate this.
      Quite often, information is not valuable without insight and context.  It can be very difficult for a student to discover that insight or to generate that context.

      One of the most valuable things that instructors do is facilitate "a-ha moments".  Sudden leaps in understanding.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:56:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm skeptical of online classes. (5+ / 0-)

    I had to do a lot of traveling for the job market this spring, so I had other graduate students cover some of my lectures. At one point, students complained about having a substitute, so I agreed to record and post a lecture online when I had to miss class for another interview. It was very obvious to me, based on classroom discussion and test performance, that very many of my students did not bother to watch the online lecture I posted. To be fair, students who enroll in an online class are probably better prepared to watch all of their lectures online. But still, in this rush to do everything online because its cheaper (I don't buy this accessibility bullshit from legislators--since when do they care about making public services accessible), we cannot forget that the quality of the education we provide is important, too.

    •  Depends (6+ / 0-)

      I have seen some horrible on-line lectures and others that are quite entertaining. Not all "online" lectures are equal. The technology is improving and it is obvious from the good lectures that a lot of time and planning was put into them - not just standing in front of a camera. Also it can be a mindset. At the moment I much prefer to watching an on-line lecture to an in class one. I like to be able to stop and think, or even rewatch ... and not feel the pressure to take notes.

      There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

      by taonow on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:01:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm taking a couple MOOCs this summer and (9+ / 0-)

    fall to test them out. I'm bored with my life, don't have the funds  to return to university as I'd ideally like, so this fits my needs perfectly for the time being.

    I'm waiting for some geology courses to show up too. If the Open University of UK and Birkbeck in London and Emporia State in Kansas can offer geology at distance, it can be done via a MOOC too.

  •  Also, I suggested to my employer (3+ / 0-)

    that we investigate using them for workforce development and training, as what they offer now pretty much is crap. The idea's gotten some favor from my boss but I haven't heard more yet.

  •  What's the problem with MOOCs, really? (10+ / 0-)

    Is it a fear that they may replace a brick-and-mortar degree-granting institution?  There are already a ton of places offering "degrees" like U Phoenix that are really looking to separate students from their money in exchange for pedagogically questionable sheepskin.  

    A MOOC, while certainly a novel idea is a way to reach out to students who may want to "test the waters" about a course/subject without having to go through the stress and anxiety of performing like a trained seal in a University classroom in a class that they may never use again or even care much about.  I was absolutely awful at programming in college, intimidated by the entire idea of constructing code that worked, and how to debug and correct my miistakes. Had the option to learn something like Python on line been available I might not have been so phobic about learning a vitally important and interesting subject for literally decades.

    Besides, how cool was it to take a course online on Astrobiology and SETI taught by a Professor from the University of Edinbugh?  In my whole life I'd have never been able to add that to my bucket list, or even consider it. But I took it, enjoyed it and now I'm hoping for a follow-on course.

    Someone is going to figure out how to efficiently monetize a segment of the MOOC world, and bravo! to them. Hell, the interwebs started out as a publically funded beast that was the sole province of the DoD and some universities and here we are on DKos talking about MOOCs.  

    It might be a revolution in education from a new "connected" perspective, that doesn't make it (MOOCs) inherently evil or not worth exploring.  Saying you're against it before its literally out of diapers is akin to maintaining the Earth is flat because you can only see the horizon and no further.

    A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

    by jo fish on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:09:00 AM PDT

    •  Python (3+ / 0-)

      I'm taking an online Python course now that is excellent ... each week you use what you have learned to build a game - last week was pong, this week memory. https://www.coursera.org/...

      There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

      by taonow on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:42:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not the MOOCs per se (0+ / 0-)

      As a means of teaching skills they work well; you have real colleges certifying the content so it's not crap like the University of Phoenix.  In particular, it's a good way to get continuing education, and for someone going to school part time, a good way to deal with some of the more rote prerequisites.

      The problem is that this is being presented as the only thing needed to create an undergraduate or graduate program.  That's a problem.  Part of my MBA curriculum was mandatory team assignments, with team grades (and teams put together at random).  In our economics classes, the professors were upfront that this had nothing to do with economics and were about teaching people to work collectively.

  •  From the inside and the outside (11+ / 0-)

    I have now taken 4 courses from Coursera and I have in the past taught at a university on limited term assignments (full year contract for X classes), so I think I may have a bit of insight into what is going on.

    I think that the window the MOOCs are climbing through has been left open by some poor performance by universities/colleges and some underlying structural trends in education to start with. I think that MOOCs offer a very interesting and in some cases a very effective alternative to some university classes/programs.

    Let us start with what is wrong at universities (from what I have seen). It starts with the research/teaching split. In most universities profs are evaluated primarily on their research. Teaching is given token attention but everyone knows it is research that counts (not to mention that research and teaching are very different skills - not so often found in the same person).

    Where I taught the full time profs taught 4 courses per year and also had nice things like sabatticals. As a contract lecturer I taught a base of 5 courses but was paid extra to teach extra classes at a nominal rate - so I would teach 10 classes a year (2.5 times what a prof taught, and for a lot less money). The result is that many students were not taught by full time profs for many of their courses - this may have been a good thing as many of the full times were not that great in the classroom - which begs the obvious question - why are universities so expensive? The obvious answer is that a ton of money is actually going to research, money that really should not be being paid for by students.

    So in universities you have a situation with expensive faculty (per classroom hour) that are rarely focused on teaching. The obvious way for universities to cut costs is to bring in sessional lecturers and bump up (way up) class sizes. So the quality (?) of the university classroom experience drops. When you have first year classes of 500 or 1000 students in a lecture theater .. what is the point? My son (a second year engineering student at a name university had to resort to Khan academy to get through some of his math courses because the profs were so bad - and he was far from being alone.)

    As I noted I have taken 4 coursera courses that I would have to rank quite highly. One in fact would rank in the top three classes I have ever taken, anywhere. But the coursera experience is NOT for everyone and everything. It provides a base experience that really really benefits from a student that is interested in the topic and wants to learn, and perhaps most importantly knows how to learn.

    Let me give you some examples of innovative stuff,

    In the Behavioral Economics class they used a number of interesting techniques in addition to the video lectures and the required and recommended reading: google hangouts, guest lecturers, guest lecturers in google hangouts, office hours (prof answers student questions in a weekly 1 hour video), quizzes, numerous surveys, discussion groups, a collaborative writing project, peer reviews of writing ....

    Here is the key. The opportunities to get something out of this course were incredible ... but you had to take the initiative, you had to say ..."I am going to do more" ... So, for the student that knows how to learn and who is motivated to learn (for the fun of learning and not necessarily for a grade) I can hardly think of a better alternative. I can watch the videos at my leisure (and watch them multiple times as I often did, and at any time when I have free time), I can stop a video and think about a point before continuing, I can talk to other people who are similarly interested, I don't have to spend time getting to a class at a certain time .... and benefit form some of the best profs out there, folks that are genuinely interested in teaching (not just in their own research).

    Do MOOCs solve all problems? NO! Are they useful for all courses? NO! Can they really help in some areas - you had better believe it. In fact there are some areas where I wonder if MOOCs are actually now the best way to teach a subject, blowing away the traditional classroom.

    ... now off to my Coursera computer programming class using Python - before I actually head off to real work. Another great class, and maybe one of the best intros to programming I have ever seen.

    There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

    by taonow on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:15:56 AM PDT

    •  I'm taking the Rice Univ Python course too. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jo fish

      Just finished the Memory game yesterday.

      •  Today (0+ / 0-)

        My project for today is to get memory done.  

        I am finding it a really good way to learn to program ... if you have the desire there certainly is enough to keep you occupied and learning a lot.

        How are you finding the course?

        There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

        by taonow on Thu May 23, 2013 at 03:55:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Online/Mooc courses ain't quite so simple (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, jabney, lgmcp, elfling, bluesophie

    My august institution is putting what pressure it can on faculty to come up with online courses.  To do it right is not easy.  (The administration, of course, has $ signs in their eyes. They want the profit without putting up the funds to support the endeavor - in their normal short-sighted manner).  

    You can't just put a cell phone on record in the back of a lecture and voila  - magically have an online course. (well, you can, but it isn't very good).

    Things like social media are needed so that the students can interact and get questions answered.  You then need a swarm of qualified people to monitor the media and keep it on track. This is actually where most of the cost comes.

    The other big idea is to do an "inverted course", where you record a lecture and then have the students in class only work on problems with a (really cheap) GTA.  This is a great way to combine the least efficient way to teach (just stand there and talk) with the least efficient instructors (GTA's are still learning themselves and have to be closely monitored even if they are just grading homework).

    Finally, you run into issues with cheating (already endemic here) - where now someone with more dollars than sense could hire a course taker and get credit.  Lest this seem paranoid - the course takers already advertise on campus.  It must be profitable, because the adds are slick and commercially produced (and probably support the students at nearby "real" universities).

  •  It is necessary to distinguish between online (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, Chrisfs, bluesophie

    more traditional style courses with 20 students or less in a section and the MOOCs which are an entirely different creature.  

  •  The Irony for me (12+ / 0-)

    As a college professor who has always taught relatively small, interactive, discussion-based classes with lots of individual conferences, here the irony for me:

    1) For the past decade, I've been forced to sit through presentations by high-priced educational consultants who lecture me on the fact that I can't lecture anymore (I never did) and that millenials expect small, highly-interactive, project and team-based educational experiences (which I've been offering for years).

    2) Now suddenly these same pricey consultants show up and lecture me that MOOC's (which are lecture-based classes taught by remote elite professors with no knowledge of my students) are the wave of the future and that I will need to "adapt or be swept away" by this brave new world.

    After sitting through this harangue, I go back to my office and patiently answer emails from my students, read and comment on their blog posts, discussion board posts, consult with their coaches and advisers about their current status, read and write detailed reports on their progress with writing tutors, ESL instructors, etc.   and then prepare the next day's lessons based on what I've learned about my students' needs and current progress this week.

    And a MOOC is supposed to threaten this?

    "Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around." -- GWF Hegel

    by Fatherflot on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:43:12 AM PDT

    •  Yes. (6+ / 0-)

      I've been teaching for a little over two decades at a community college, and get the same thing at my school.

      My classes have always been interactive, discussion-based, and highly personalized, even in the face of a 5-5 teaching load.

      But upper admin and their hired guns keep lecturing us, telling us lectures don't work.

      Every year I push for upper admin to sit in on random classes to get a sense of what's really happening on campus, rather than what tech salesmen and politicians are telling them.

      Beware the man of one book.

      by fiddler crabby on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:28:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Guide on the Side, no Sage on the Stage (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fiddler crabby, Rosicrucian

        That was the mantra from about 1995 until 2011.  Now all of the sudden the "sage on the stage" is superior, so long as it's a sage several thousand miles away coming to the student via a networked tablet.

        How is this any different---pedagogically at least---from the televised extension course that's been around since the early 60's?

        "Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around." -- GWF Hegel

        by Fatherflot on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:24:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  but (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, anafreeka, gramofsam1

      I'm guessing you are not teaching in the sciences or engineering or business. If you get small classes in these areas they might happen in third or fourth year. In the first two years, no way. My son's engineering classes for example are all over 100 students.

      I see MOOCs as complementary to existing education, especially in the technical areas. A lot of standard material can be learned without intimate interactions - and it would be better taught by a qualified excellent teacher than by an underpaid grad student. What MOOCs in theory could do is free up resources so that at higher levels the more intimate experiences could be kept and hopefully  enhanced.

      There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

      by taonow on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:23:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just a cheaper way (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fiddler crabby, bluesophie

        to deliver a pedagogical approach (straight lecture) that's been in disrepute since the days of John Dewey.

        "Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around." -- GWF Hegel

        by Fatherflot on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:28:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  uhm (4+ / 0-)

          I have sat through hundreds of boring straight lectures and now more than a few coursera lectures/classes. Put simply - They ain't the same.

          I can't speak for arts classes but for business and tech stuff especially at introductory levels, I'll take the coursera model hands down - and that is disregarding the cost factor. Put that in and it isn't even in the same ballpark.

          There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

          by taonow on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:54:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If you just video a talking head (1+ / 0-)

          They're pretty useless.

          But if you add in computer graphics and video clips and demonstrations, there are a lot of great ways to make it really sing.

          These institutions have been doing this for many years in different formats. Witness Caltech's Mechanical Universe series, developed by its Physics department, distributed on VHS, that contained state-of-the-art computer graphics for its time created by JPL wizard Jim Blinn.

          (When I was a student, some of these clips were shown to use in lecture hall.)

          You also have the option of integrating in some great bits of videotape from people like Richard Feynman.

          You can add in clips of explosions or crashes from shows like Mythbusters.

          This all can seriously enhance what can be delivered by a person in a room with 200 students and a chalkboard.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:21:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I would recomend that you look at the courses (0+ / 0-)

          The stats and programming courses have quizzes embedded in the videos. There are projects with discussion boards where students help out other students and in two of three courses, professors actively answer questions as well. In the programming class, they say "if you are stuck and you have asked on the boards and you are still stuck, you can send me an email and I'll give you a hint".
          It's not simple a video taped lecture and a multiple choice quiz.

      •  It varies by institution (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bluesophie

        If a university wants to have small classes, they will have small classes. I've taken engineering classes with less than 10 students (admittedly senior/graduate level).

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:16:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They need to address the real problems (7+ / 0-)

    ...expansion of the administrative staff and ballooning of administrator salaries, plus an emphasis on bricks and mortar over education. Federal funding of grants and loans has been offset by increases in tuition rates that far exceed inflation.  Rather than serve the ideal of providing a good quality education at an affordable price, state university presidents are trying to compete with Harvard. Otherwise, MOOCs will be used to justify more abuses of students from low income families.

  •  As both teacher and student, online and offline (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, bluesophie

    I will testify that web-based learning is quicker, more convenient, duller, and less impactful.  

    The more you put in, to any experience, the more you get out of it.   Web courses demand less attention, less proximity, and less focus, and they give back less.  

    As a SUPPLEMENT to traditional college coursework, I think they're great.  I like having electronic resources for document libraries, class materials, submitting completed coursework, holding and archiving threaded discussions, and posting grades.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed May 22, 2013 at 10:02:45 AM PDT

    •  I see a bright, vibrant future as having both (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      available freely to the most students possible.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:22:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Generalizations? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      I guess you had better classes than I did. I would argue that at least 75% of my classes were a complete waste of time. Mediocre professors (I'm being kind) that simply did not know how to communicate and inform. The worst was a tax prof who literally read out of the text book for 3 hours every Wednesday night. I have yet to come close to finding any on-line course that bad.

      There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

      by taonow on Wed May 22, 2013 at 04:57:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was fortunate (0+ / 0-)

        to attend a tiny, highly selective, liberal arts college with passionate teachers and students -- which did indeed cause decades of painful loan payments.  I also had mostly good in-person experiences at several large state universities and community colleges (and so-so experiences at their online venues).  But yes, generalizations.

        I don't count the classes towards the Masters degree from the University of Phoenix.  Those were lame.   I did learn a moderat amount, due to my own application, but few thanks to the curriculum, the instruction, or the abysmally low expectations.  Still, I got the magic letters after my name, in as short a time as possible, and they paid off promptly in salary so the core purpose was fulfilled.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:54:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Your MOOC definition is somewhat off. (4+ / 0-)

    While you bring some important  points,
    Your definition of a MOOC is rather restricted.
    You write "What makes the MOOC different is that it is a program created by an outside vendor who licenses its courses to the university, who then offers them as part of their curriculum in a public-private partnership. The courses are taught by a videotaped instructor who is often part of another college, with the coursework and discussion guided by a teaching assistant contracted by the university, at a much cheaper rate than regular faculty. Corporations such as Coursera, Udacity, edX, Udemy and others have already contracted with universities (Duke, MIT, University of Michigan, and San Jose State University among them) to offer courses."

    MOOCs aren't necessarily licensed to other universities and in that case you are getting courses from respected professors at respected universities for free.
    For example, I have taken three Coursera courses, not through a local university but directly through the Coursera website.  
    Each of them  is completely free and taught by professors at respected universities (John Hopkins, Univ of Toronto and Rice University). You can look them up and see that the instructors have been professors at the universities for some time.
    These are courses that were offered locally and if they had been offered through, say UC Berkeley Extension, would have cost me $800 each.

    MOOCs are notorious for a low completion rate (85 percent - 95 percent of students drop out or fail MOOCs), low instructional contact, and requiring fees (up to $90-$99) to enroll in these courses.
    Again, this is not exactly fair.
    Coursera courses (and EDX courses) are free, and there is no consequence to dropping one, so a lot of people start one to see what it's like and end up dropping one either because it's not a course they like or they are simply too busy to complete it. I completed three courses, but I have also dropped two. One because I didn't like the format and one because I was just too busy.  It really can't be compared to a traditional undergrad course in that sense. Instructional content varies from course to course. To make a blanket statement like that isn't accurate. I have seen easy courses and hard core programming courses  and with regards to fees, all of the courses on Coursera can be taken for free. Completely free, requiring no tuition or textbooks.

    Now if you want to get college credit for a course, I can see where a fee would likely be charged and I don't see how you can begrudge that. It's the same model brick and mortar universities use.
    However MOOCs have a role in the educational system. If I want to learn a programming language or some part of mathematics, I don't necessarily need college credit per se. Programs and similar examples will show that I took the course and learned from it. And due to the high number of people who sign up even though most don't complete it, there are still several thousand who do. People from all over the world and at different points in life.  Teaching a course to several thousand people all over the world is not something that was (or is ) available to people from traditional universities.
    Now there are questions to be asked about whether MOOCs should be covered within a regular tuition or what not, but until the California State University system can offer me a completely online, for credit Calculus III course for under $1000  (SF State offers one for $1500) , then I would say there continues to be a very real need that Coursera and other are filling.

    https://www.coursera.org/...
    https://class.coursera.org/...
    https://class.coursera.org/...

  •  Something that is actually essential to the MOOCs (0+ / 0-)

    as they are running now is that they are not for credit. If they were for credit, you could not run them the way they are. They are platforms for independent learners to gather knowledge, for showcasing the offerings of a university, for maybe providing a rationale for developing in depth some video materials.

    I mentioned in another comment The Mechanical Universe physics series, a VHS project that was done to teach physics. I had the experience of seeing those videos before I saw essentially the same lectures in person - and there's no question that the in person lectures were more engaging and more meaningful. And yet, in the lecture hall, the graphics were shown - beautiful (for their time!) graphics that made the point better than a live human could. The sum of the two together was greater than one or the other.

    MOOC is just another iteration down this path.

    Two points in particular that I thought were interesting from this video:
    1. Teaching the MOOC made them think about teaching and they felt it made them better teachers, to watch themselves, edit, and do new takes.
    2. One professor is using MOOC essentially to launch a new discipline in biology - and this is a way for him to reach a much much larger audience with his ideas to get it jumpstarted.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu May 23, 2013 at 12:34:55 AM PDT

    •  MOOCs are starting to be approved for credit. (0+ / 0-)

      http://chronicle.com/...

      I think I referenced this briefly in the article, but here is the direct link from this spring.

      It is still up to the colleges to decide whether to offer the courses for credit, but I want to highlight that this is no longer out of the realm of possibility.  

      "American Council on Education Recommends 5 MOOCs for Credit
      By Steve Kolowich

      In what could be a major step toward bridging the gap between massive open online courses and the credentialing system that they are supposed to "disrupt," the American Council on Education on Thursday endorsed five MOOCs for credit.

      Two of the approved courses, "Introduction to Genetics and Evolution" and "Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach," come from Duke University. Two others, "Pre-Calculus" and "Algebra," come from the University of California at Irvine. The last, "Calculus: Single-Variable," comes from the University of Pennsylvania. All five are offered through Coursera.

      The council, an association that advises college presidents, operates a credit-recommendation service that evaluates individual courses. If a course passes muster, ACE advises its 1,800 member colleges that they can be comfortable conferring credit on students who have passed that course."  

      •  I know that it is where people are going (0+ / 0-)

        I think it will substantially alter what they are and how scalable they are if you have to worry about fraud and accountability that way. It becomes a significantly different problem.

        Algebra and calculus are maybe a bit easier because there are a lot of proctored exam situations for those already.

        We shall see how it all pans out.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Thu May 23, 2013 at 07:50:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  These courses are good if... (0+ / 0-)

    ...you believe education fits inside 5 multiple choice boxes.

    If you don't they suck.

    You can't grade writing in the same way. Or critical thinking as evidenced in writing.

    Another problem--as we develop a stream of superstar professors (which is already happening since full time profs now comprise less than 30% of the teaching profession -- it used to be 75% a decade ag0), then you'll start seeing a certain form of inbreeding and incestuousness. No new ideas from the margins.

    Essentially, this is another nail in the coffin of American excellence.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:31:57 AM PDT

  •  "What is a MOOC?" (0+ / 0-)

    Last time I heard that line, I was watching "Mean Streets"!!!

    Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:28:32 AM PDT

  •  WHat happens... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is you will have two tiers of college education.

    Residential students, who pay full boat tuition, get all the stuff you expect in college, including the social skills and connections, and 1-to-1 interaction with faculty.

    Everyone else gets something branded with a big-name university, but it's never going to be accepted as the same as a regular degree.  It's basically a vocational education with some degree of vetting and branding.  These MOOCs are fine for continuing education, but they don't make up a course of undergraduate study.

  •  Courses on EDX (0+ / 0-)

    I am just finishing two courses on EDX and both were great.  In particular the MIT Electricity and Magnetism class had fantastic demonstrations which would be difficult to create elsewhere.  The homework and exams were rigorous and there were 37,000 students enrolled in the class from all over the world.  I see some advantages to the online format.  The lectures were divided up into clips with a question to be answered leading into the next subject before seeing the next clip.  This makes you think about the lecture.  The disadvantage is not having hands on laboratory but the rest I think was about as good as being there.  The EDX platform is an investment by Harvard and MIT and is a nonprofit.  Eventually, if they can figure out how to proctor exams at remote locations, this could be an excellent way to bring quality instruction to the world for credit.  I have taught at a University in Tanzania and this could be extremely valuable in a place where there are few qualified instructors.

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