Graduating with Technology


#MOOC Reality Check – Summer 2013

Originally posted by Edudemic.
Infographic by Enterasys 
September 2013

Earlier this year, MOOCs were huge. Lots of people were talking about how MOOCs were going to change the face of education, and for good reason. They garnered the attention of lots of folks, from VC investors to big name universities. Currently, there’s somewhat less buzz happening about MOOCs. But they’re still out there, happening and evolving while we’re busy doing other things. I do find it useful to regularly be able to take the temperature, so to speak, of what people are thinking and what’s actually happening with MOOC trends, which the handy infographic below does wonderfully. Keep reading to learn more.

MOOCs in Higher Education Today (Summer 2013)

  • 74%  of schools currently offer some type of online course. 16% plan to offer one within 3 years.
  • 13% of schools currently offer a MOOC. 43% plan to offer one within 3 years, and 44% don’t plan to offer one at all.
  • 84% say that MOOCs complement residential education, while 16% say it competes.
  • A majority of respondents reported they thought that MOOCs were great for continuing education, non degree programs, technical training, and elective courses.
  • The biggest drawback was reported to be the lack of consistent review and grading for providing competencies.
  • 44% either currently offer credit for a MOOC or plan to in the future.
  • 83% would consider joining a MOOC group (like EdX or coursera)
  • Most (67%) still believe that MOOCs will never replace traditional education.


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Online Learning 2013/2014: White Paper (Learning House)

Reposted from Learning House, July 16, 2013

The “Online College Students 2013: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences” report reveals the value of an online degree. The survey of 1500 past, present and prospective students demonstrates that by offering degrees online, colleges open their doors to a new, highly motivated and dedicated student population.

Online College Students 2013: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences - Infographic

The Learning House, Inc.

Online Classes Fuel a Campus Debate – NY Times

Ramin Rahimian for The New York Times  – Daphne Koller, a Coursera founder, said there was anxiety about how online courses would affect higher education.

The announcement last month that Coursera, which offers free college classes online, had signed agreements with state universities enrolling more than a million students made it plain that such courses, virtually unheard-of two years ago, are now part of the higher education mainstream.

But along the way, a rancorous debate has emerged over whether such courses will lead to better learning, lower costs and higher graduation rates — or to the dismantling of public universities, downgraded or eliminated faculty jobs, and a second-class education for most students.

Many universities have been quick to sign up with outside providers to offer the “massive open online courses,” known as MOOCs, either as stand-alone courses or in a hybrid format, with the online materials supplemented by a local faculty member. While they portray their online offerings as exploratory, many administrators hope the courses will help them expand their reach, rein in tuition and offer better instruction.

Now a new discussion has begun about whether universities should collaborate to develop and share their courses and technology, rather than working with outside providers. This week, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a group of provosts from Big 10 universities, issued a position paper saying that higher education must take advantage of new education technology — but perhaps on its own. On a small scale, C.I.C. members’ CourseShare program already does that, with members sharing classes in less commonly taught languages.

“Many of us feel more comfortable building our own infrastructure, rather than relying on a for-profit company,” said Karen Hanson, provost of the University of Minnesota and the committee’s chairwoman. “We think we want to remain in control of our own intellectual property.”

Like most of the universities in the group, the University of Minnesota currently is a partner with Coursera, with five courses being offered and five more in the works. “Coursera shares a lot of our values, and the faculty members involved have keen interest in experimenting with that format,” the provost said.

Daphne Koller, the Stanford computer science professor who is a founder of Coursera, said she thought the C.I.C. paper represented an exploratory discussion driven by anxieties about how online education would change higher education. Coursera’s contract with its C.I.C. partners, she said, leaves them full control over their content, including all rights and usage. In addition, most universities’ software infrastructure is provided by technology companies. “Tech companies generally produce better code,” she said. “And I think when they consider it, most universities will not see any advantage in duplicating that work.”

On many campuses, faculty oppose the spread of MOOCs, angry that their universities joined in with little consultation, undercutting the tradition of shared governance. Others argue that MOOCs will shortchange students, replacing the personal relationships that encourage learning.

In April, Duke University pulled out of Semester Online, a consortium of universities sharing online courses, hosted by 2U, the online education platform, after the faculty voted down the project.

At San Jose State University, which has led the way in allowing the MOOCs to be used for credit, the philosophy department last month wrote an open letter to Michael Sandel, a Harvard professor whose online Justice course it refused to use, laying out its concerns about the impact of such courses.

“Let us not kid ourselves,” the letter said, “administrators at C.S.U. are beginning a process of replacing faculty with cheap online education.”

This spring, the Amherst faculty voted against joining edX, the nonprofit Harvard-M.I.T. collaboration, and 58 Harvard faculty members sought the creation of a new committee to consider the effect online courses will have on higher education.

Jonathan Rees, a history professor at Colorado State University at Pueblo, who has written critically about MOOCs, said their spread is likely to lead to a three-tiered world, with a few high-status “super professors” for whom the courses provide both status and royalties; a larger pool of tenured professors who continue to teach their regular in-person classes until they retire; and “a huge army of adjuncts and teaching assistants,” whose jobs will be vulnerable to online competition.

“The problem with this MOOC-as-labor-issue argument is that it has no place for students and learning,” said Phil Hill, an education technology consultant. “Our starting point ought to be what students need and whether this is an effective form of learning.”

Many educators say that high-quality online materials can help students learn, just like a high-quality textbook.

“The issue in higher education is how we get to scale,” said M. Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. “The question now is how long it’s going to take for faculty members to stop saying they can use the same textbooks as others at other institutions, but they can’t use the same lectures.”

All three of the leading MOOC providers — Coursera, edX and Udacity, another Stanford spinoff — started by offering courses free but with no credit, attracting millions of learners around the world. But all three are now adapting those courses, often in blended form, for use in public universities that will offer students credit and extra support — and bring the MOOC providers a steady revenue stream.

Coursera, which initially worked only with elite research universities, shifted gears after finding that most students enrolled in its courses already had college degrees. Ms. Koller said she realized that to “move the needle” on the basic problems of American higher education — access and affordability — the company would have to work with the public universities that educate most college students.

Study: Students prefer real classrooms over virtual

Devin Karambelas, USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent 2:33 p.m. EDT June 11, 2013

online MOOC

Despite the rapid growth of online learning, many college students say they still prefer the traditional classroom setting.

According to results of a new national research study, 78% of more than 1,000 students surveyed still believe it is easier to learn in a classroom. But as the cost of a college education steadily rises, some experts say the data suggest virtual campuses are likely to grow — largely because they need to.

“Five years ago we would not even be having this conversation,” says Dan Schawbel, founder of consulting firm Millennial Branding, which conducted the survey in partnership with

“Millennials today expect customization and convenience, and colleges are having to find ways to cater to different situations.”

While students could traditionally expect decent job prospects upon graduation, the high cost of a degree has forced students to make choices. The bottom line, Schawbel says, is that students need options — and they are increasingly turning to online learning.

“With so many new technologies, it’s getting easier for the individual online experience to match that of the classroom,” he says.

2013-06-13_1241University of Vermont senior Becky Hayes, 21, opted to take an online journalism course over her winter break to earn credits — without having to pay extra money. She liked the idea of it, but says the format could use some improvements.

“I would have liked to see more interaction somehow. Instead of just reading articles and posting discussions about it, I would have liked to learn from a video podcast of the professor,” Hayes says.

Last month, some colleges publically committed to using online classes to bring in more students in the form of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, while others criticized the approach.

In early May, faculty from San Jose State’s philosophy department balked at the idea of using materials from Harvard professor Michael Sandel‘s online course to disseminate to students over an online platform, The New York Times reported.

“The move to MOOCs comes at great peril to our university,” a letter of protest stated. “We regard such courses as a serious compromise to education.”

Some critics went even further, calling the push toward online education a “dystopian nightmare” of monoculture, according to comments posted on an Inside Higher Ed article about a similar situation at Georgia Tech.

Despite the controversy, it appears more and more colleges are trying out MOOCs and other online learning platforms.

Out of hundreds of public and private universities surveyed, 43% are planning to offer MOOCs by 2016, a 30% jump from the number of institutions currently offering them, according to a May 30 study conducted by Enterasys Networks.

Kristina Chew, a classics professor at St. Peter’s University, wrote an article for The Guardian last month praising the value of face-to-face interaction. In her view, it is critical for teachers to be accessible to their students, and that connection is often lost with a screen in the way.

“I try to respond to e-mails, I Facebook; I give out my cellphone number,” Chew says. “This may bring up privacy issues, but my students know I’m accessible and they appreciate that.”

Online learning can also mean more work for the professor.

“Putting a lesson plan online requires an incredible amount of writing and typing for professors, and it’s usually not in their preferred medium,” she says.

But unless lawmakers can reach an agreement, student loan debt interest rates will double on July 1, from 3.4% to 6.8% — meaning it may be the right time for online learning platforms.

The average cost of attending a four-year institution in the 2010-2011 school year ranged from $13,000 to $23,000 depending on whether it was public or private, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

By comparison, online learning platform Udacity offers a for-credit course program for about $150 per course, and Open Culture sources hundreds of thousands of online courses and education materials — for free.

Based on these latest survey results, students are not yet sold on the idea that online learning is better than the current classroom model. Yet Schawbel says he believes additional results from the survey point to a slightly different conclusion.

“We also found that 53% of students think online degrees are just as reputable,” he says. “The college model is starting to make changes in the way that the business model has been shifting for years. For any brand, which every institution is, to make changes like this is huge.”

And then there are success stories beyond the college model.

Non-profit organization Khan Academy saw huge growth in only three years. It is part of a growing educational strategy called blended learning, says Chief Operating Officer Shantanu Sinha, and it tends to work well with supplementing lessons in the classroom.

While Khan Academy does not offer any degrees or certificates, its thousands of micro-lectures serve 6 million students a month, Sinha says. Using interactive graphics and videos, the result is a “quirky and humorous, yet deep” system of learning that finds potential within the limitations of virtual space.

“We’re working with the system rather than copying or replacing it,” Sinha says. “We personalize the experience by giving reports and feedback in real time. And when you do that, it’s a very different paradigm.”

Devin Karambelas is a summer 2013 Collegiate Correspondent.

Major Players in the MOOC Universe

Originally Published by The Chronicle of Higher Education June 12, 2013MOOC_web_final_wheel03


Khan Academy



This for-profit MOOC founded by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller has teamed up with 62 colleges (and counting) for its classes. The company is experimenting with a career service that makes money by connecting employers to its students, and attracted $22-million in venture capital in its first year. Salman Khan made waves when he quit his job as a hedge-fund analyst to record short video lectures on everything from embryonic stem cells to—you guessed it—hedge funds and venture capital. This for-profit MOOC, started by the Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun, works with individual professors to offer courses. By March 2013, Udacity had raised more than $21-million in venture capital. Harvard and MIT put up the original $60-million to start this nonprofit MOOC. So far, students can take classes only from Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley, but classes from nine more universities are coming soon.

Companies to watch:

MOOC2Degree: This upstart’s main selling point is real, transferable credit, as long as students can get admitted to the college, that is. At least nine colleges are planning to participate, and Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, has spoken favorably of the venture. Canvas Network: Network’s owner, Instructure, is one of Blackboard’s biggest competitors. David Wiley, an early MOOC teacher and promoter, has gotten behind the project, and more than a dozen colleges have signed up. The company has received more than $9-million in investments. CourseSites: Blackboard is only just starting to compete in the MOOC universe with its CourseSite platform. So far, only a handful of universities have tested it out. Udemy: Professors, authors, professionals, and celebrities create and sell courses about pretty much anything at Udemy, which has raised more than $16-million in venture capital. Thinkful: One of the billionaire Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20 fellows started this career-development-oriented company, into which Mr. Thiel has invested $1-million.
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