Tuesday, December 11, 2012


This essay takes a look at how the higher education system has taken on the business model, and how the new creation of MOOCs are a part of this model. MOOCs are at this moment free, but nothing in our society is free, and the arguement is made that MOOCs are no exception. A contract is looked at and eight different ways of making profit are found, proving that MOOCs intend and already have taken on the business model. The next question is what direction does education intend to go if they are already focusing on making a profit. Education moving in th edirection of money is a slippery slope and could in future cause a more negative effect on education then it aleady does. Being that MOOCs are created with the intention of making profit they will only be worse for the education system since they take the face-to-face learning experience out of education.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How the Embrace of MOOc's could hurt middle America by Greg Graham

Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford teacher that started the the website Udacity which offers online courses quite teaching at the University when he found out enrollment in his online class in AI reached 160,000 students. "Having done this, I can't teach at Stanford again," Thrun said when he announced his decision this year. "You can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture to your 20 students, but I've taken the red pill and I've seen Wonderland." Thrun was enthralled by the number of students interested in taking his online class, and saw no point in continuing to teach small numbers of students when he could make a bigger impact online and effect more people. But the question is, how long will his big impact be considered just that? Big. 
If there is a large move towards these MOOC's there is an issue with what it will do to society and social classes. "Although the move toward online education is being advanced by some of the nation's most elite universities, in the end it will be the lower half of the student population that will be forced out of the traditional classroom, widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots." It can be concluded that the free education is good for everyone but the issue lies in that the lower half of society will be taking online courses and the more privileged will have the advantage of being able to go to elite universities and get a more personal education. So maybe before society lets these MOOC's take off they need to ask the question that is more often then not ignored, will the long term effect be as beneficial as the short term effect? It all depends on what you value more I guess. An equal society, or education? 
Our society often makes the mistake of accusing those not on board with an idea to be old fashioned. When we put a negative connotation to different ideas, in this case that MOOC's may not be as beneficial to society as we perceive them to be, we often end up ignoring them. "The push for technology is relentless [and] if you're not on board, the sentiment goes, you're falling behind." When society makes bold statements like this, people are easily persuaded, and don't make decisions for themselves, they listen and obey. "We've got to question the motivations behind those moves. I'm sure online educators are motivated by the sight of an abundance of learners, but what are the chances that, over time, those numbers will lose their meaning?"
The idea that MOOC's may not be the right answer will be overlooked and the consequences of our choices today are easy to predict on what it will do to future generations of tomorrow. Imagine no more face-to-face learning. It may be far off but it is possible. Right now the push is only to put higher education online, but they have already done experiments on senior high students, and the results were "remarkable" as Mr. Kim said from the article 5 ways that edX could change education. What happens when the idea of e-learning jumps from helping adults find time to get educated, to using it instead to teach elementary children. Everyone would be educated online, and you can bet the only children getting a good face-to-face education would be the children of the one percent. "This could happen because the move toward online education is driven by a holy trinity of interests: state and local governments that want to reduce education expenditures, school administrators forced to cut budgets, and technology companies looking to expand their markets." It is this very idea of the holy trinity that should scare everyone. 
The holy trinity will advertise the idea of "Wonderland" and make Thruns dream a reality. Only the reason Thrun loves this idea is because he is at the top of the food chain with 160,000 students beneath him, or maybe in the future the Thrun running these classes will have the world beneath him. It may be good for Thrun but is it good for the world? The holy trinity is going to sell us Thruns view of the holy trinity not the worlds view and the person saying this might not be a good idea is going to be called old fashioned and quickly overlooked. 


The "Flipped Classroom"

An interesting new way of teaching could easily come from MOOCs. An MIT graduate, Tony Hyun Kim, taught a hybrid course to high school students, circuits-and-electronics, and blended online learning with facet-face learning. This could be the future of teaching. No more homework, just go home watch a lecture online and spend class time going over it and grasping a better understanding of the lecture. And once everything seems to be understood, focus on labs, hands on learning, and more peer learning in the classroom setting. This form of teaching is called the "flipped classroom" and could be the future of teaching. The results of Mr. Kim's classroom are described as remarkable in the article, and the experiment of the flipped classroom is now being tested at the community college level, and could be the future of learning. So maybe Mooc's wont burst the college bubble after all, maybe they will just speed up the pace, and advance learning if the flipped classroom is taken into consideration as the future of learning.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

5 Ways that edX could change education

Gaming is mentioned in this article as a way to teach labs online. I've heard that gaming is the future of education before. It makes sense because through gaming a student can learn a lot. they can find patterns and learn from their mistakes. (I'd like to do more research on gaming.) Mr. Agarwal a former director of MITs computer science and AI laboratory is working on creating a way to integrate gaming into the learning experience. "EdX's first crack at answering that question can be heard in the violins that filled Mr. Agarwal's office one recent morning. The music came from his computer, where he input it through a circuit. It's one part of a simulated lab environment that lets students rotate components and build circuits as if they were "assembling virtual Legos on a desktop," Mr. Agarwal says."
The people studying edX and trying to figure out how to make it work are not only trying to study the program but they are also looking a the human mind, how it works, and what methods are the best to teach it. The creators "view the project as a means to study even deeper problems, like understanding how people forget—and creating strategies to prevent it." How will edX be able to figure out answers to these questions? It's a pretty obvious answer actually. When edX becomes more widely known and excepted the enrollment of these classes is expected to reach the millions. Mr. Mitros the chief scientist of this project has says,"Basically, everything that a student does is logged and can be mined by researchers." All of the data being collected is already online, making it easier to study how people learn, and easy to make changes if necessary in  timely fashion. What Mr. Mitros wants to study is peoples memory, and how well they are retaining information. "To Mr. Mitros, most exciting is the chance for once-impossible cognitive-science research. If you're like many people, you've forgotten much of your formal education. But studies show that if you repeat things—you take a freshman physics class, say, but continue to use those concepts throughout college—you retain them. Researchers might show refreshers to students at different points in time after a course has been completed, Mr. Mitros says, tracking what they recall." With this kind of study being done, scientists will be able to improve peoples cognitive skills and better education. 
Another benefit of e-lerning is that students can take the classes as they fit to their schedule rather then having to base their day around a class. It can be noticed by most students that as a semester goes on less and less students show up to classes. 
With online classes it is easier for students to see all the lectures. Also students are able to rewind and fast forward their professors. So if they missed important information, forgot something, or didn't catch the message the professor was trying to portray the first time they can go back. And apparently being able to fast forward is beneficial also. "Data showed MIT students tended to watch the videos at 1.5 speed, which makes voices sound almost like chipmunks but delivers information more rapidly." Maybe it is true that every generation is starting to learn things at faster and faster rates. 

MOOC Mania

Moocs could be the solution to the college crisis. In this article Katherine Mangan says "a study released in July by Bain & Company that concludes that one third of the nation's colleges and universities are financially unsustainable. "  Online classes could prove to be competition for Universities and even key to keeping the price of education down. With the possibility of education being free or at a low cost, more students will take the idea of furthering their education into consideration, and more people who find themselves unhappy or in dead end jobs will take going back to school into consideration. 

 "Thomas K. Lindsay, director of the Center for Higher Education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation," says that "technological advances have made the online-learning process more interactive and in many ways more personal than the large lecture classes typical of many introductory courses." This could be very true. More advanced courses require face-to-face hands on learning, but Moocs may be beneficial for courses usually taught in a large lecture halls that wouldn't have personal learning atmosphere anyway. If they are cost efficient, and do not compromise the quality of the learning experience, as many online courses have in the past then they should be taken into consideration as college credit by large universities. 

There are still many questions that are being raised about Mooc's. One which I personally find insignificant is how can Universities continue to make money from them. If the loss of revenue from introductory courses prevent a college from sustaining itself then maybe it should be allowed to fail. Not that I believe less educational institutions is the solution to any of the current economic issues, it would just seem ridiculous to allow any institution  to continue to take money from students that is sustaining above its means. But I doubt that is the reason why this question is asked. I think Universities are going to be fine without the revenue from their introductory courses, I think they are just genuinely concerned with the idea of education being free. The only reason revenue would need to be gained from these courses is not to benefit any university, it is not research or their name being taken from these courses, but revenue would need to be churned simply to be able to pay the professors teaching the courses, pay the proctors, and graders for these courses. If revenue is gained through advertisements and through charging for credentials then the I'm  sure it would meet the costs, if not surpass them.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MITx and other free online classrooms

The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak By kevin Carey

In this article Kevin carey looks at different ways that traditional schools are feeling pressure from outdside competition. He talks about how students from all over the world are now able to take online classes by well renouned proffesssors from schools such as Stanford, and MIT. The students take the online coarse and go to a proctored location to take the midterm and final. If they do well the teachers send the students a form indicating that they passed the coarse, with the proffesors signiture, and its all free.

" a group of adjunct professors at Stanford University who were offering their courses in Artificial Intelligence and other computer science topics to anyone in the world, online, at no charge. Tens of thousands of students had signed up. The availability of free Internet courses itself wasn’t all that innovative—MIT’s Open Courseware initiative is a decade old and elite schools like Yale and Carnegie Mellon have followed suit. The news was that the Stanford professors were letting students in their global classroom sit for the midterm, at proctored sites around the world. Those who did well on the A.I. test and a later final exam got a letter saying so, signed by the professors" (pg.1)

"MIT made a major announcement: The world-famous research university would be creating a new non-profit organization called MITx. It, too, would be offering free online courses, designed from the ground up to serve tens or even hundreds of thousands of students worldwide. And it, too, would administer exams to students who, if they passed, would receive a certificate saying so from MITx."

"What all of these new ventures have in common is that they are outside of the existing system of college credits and degrees. The traditional college degree monopoly has long been sustained by three mutually-reinforcing factors. First, colleges are highly subsidized through some combination of direct government funding, non-profit status, and student financial aid. Second, only accredited colleges can receive government subsidies and offer credits and credentials that are recognized by employers and other colleges. The accreditation system, meanwhile, is controlled by existing colleges themselves. Third, our society has made an enormous psychic investment in the idea of traditional colleges. Most people don’t know how to think about credentials any other way."

'While an online class might not be as good as sitting in a classroom being taught in person by a learned scholar, the thinking goes, online courses are cheaper and getting better all time and so will eventually disrupt the providers of live instruction"

"the economy continually reorganizes itself in a way that values the possession of deep knowledge and complex cognitive skills. They are universally recognized and never expire, golden keys to the parts of the labor market most worth entering."

This information is so interesting because it makes a student like me wonder why am I in a traditional school when I am finding out that education is becoming increasingly popular and free online. Not only that but there are many new companies coming out with different ways of administering proof that students are masters of a subject by sending them "Badges" as credentials. Eventually students will be able to go online and become an expert in the feild of their choosing. "The great unanswered question is when the abundance and quality of new credentials will reach a critical mass of acceptance among employers and society at large." If this new system gets its feet off the ground, it probably wont be long, especially since there is so much technology to help it. "The Mozilla Foundation, funded by the people who developed the Firefox web browser, are sponsoring a competition for the creation of badge systems that will help students organize the credentials they receive from different providers." Once students can organize their credentials there is probably only one thing left that is needed. Online advisors to help guide students in the right direction and tell them what classes they should be taking first and a total of what ones they need. It will probably take a while for students to figure it out on their own. It may take a while for students to create their own degree this way too. Back in the sixties and seventies it wasnt uncommon for students to stay in school for up to ten years when they were figuring out the system, whereas now students are commonly only in school for four years. If there is a good Advisor system for this program students could potentially figure out how to finish their education in a timely manner.

 "Traditional degrees have the great advantage of being simple and universally understood. The problem is that they provide little information about what students actually know and are becoming more expensive all the time." If these free online institutions are a success, it would only take a few decades before everyone will be online taking classes at a very low cost if any. This could be the end of small liberal art universities. Online coarses will prove to be too much competition, Liberal Art universities wont be able to compete with the cost  and they wont be able to keep the number of students in their institutions high enough to continue to run their schools. The only institutions that will keep their doors open will be those doing large amounts of research, because research will always be needed and it is possible that like MIT, large instituitions will be the ones handing out the degrees. If this were too happen I could be among the last generation to be compiling large amounts of debt from education, which would be better for the country as a whole economically.

If this were to be successful what would be the consequences? would this drive the classes apart even further then they already are? Yes more of the lower class would be able to be educated at a much lower cost, but once again only the rich would be able to attend actual universities such as MIT and Stanford, because they would be the only ones willing to pay for education. Would that be good or bad for society as a whole? Yes more people would be educated, but would it cause all education to be the same, would it be creating a society that thinks alike rather then individually?

Online Education: where is it going? what should we know?

This is an interesting article I found on the future of online courses. The author did a survey to look at successes and failures of online courses in the past, then looks at what administrators are going to have to do to make online courses in the future successful.

Interesting Quotes from the Article:

"Online learning is an increasingly prominent and legitimate presence in higher education—nearly one third of full-time and part time students at nonprofit and for-profit institutions took one or more online courses in 2009." (PG.1)


"launching and supporting effective online courses and programs involves more than
simply migrating old course syllabi to the Internet." (pg. 3).

"Successful, quality online education requires a major investment training, instructional services and personnel, and student
services—to support those courses and programs." (Pg. 3)

"New data from the fall 2010 Managing Online Education Survey, sponsored by our two organizations, The Campus Computing Project and the WICHE Consortium for Educational
Technology (WCET), point to robust growth in online programs at many institutions across the country. Fully half of the survey participants report that online enrollments at their institutions grew by more than 15 percent over the past three years, and two-fifths expect online enrollments to jump
by more than another 15 percent over the next three years."(pg.3)

"the number of students taking at least one online course grew from 1.6 million in fall 2002 to over 5.6 million in fall 2009."(pg.3)
"Almost half (44 percent) of the participants in our Managing Online Education survey, typically the
senior operating officer for an institution’s online programs, said that their programs were profitable. In fact, more than 22 percent reported that profits—defined as total revenues minus all expenses—were better than 15 percent for the past academic year. Yet just as many of the respondents, 45 percent, reported that they did not know if their online programs were profitable this past academic year."(pg.3)
"What attributes, metrics, methods, and materials will adequately document the performance of each aspect and attribute of the rich mosaic of learning experiences that we want to provide for our constituencies? For example, is the institutional strategy for assessing online education similar to or different from the strategy for on-campus courses and programs?" (pg. 5)

GreeN, KeNNeTh C., and Ellen Wagner. "online education: Where is it Going? What Should Boards Know?." TrusTeeship (2011).