The Professors’ Big Stage — op-ed from the New York Times by Thomas Friedman

Excerpt:

I just spent the last two days at a great conference convened by M.I.T. and Harvard on “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education” — a k a “How can colleges charge $50,000 a year if my kid can learn it all free from massive open online courses?”

From DSC:
While I think MOOCs have a ways to go, I continue to support them because they are forcing higher ed to innovate and experiment more.  But the conversation continues to move away from traditional higher ed, as the changes — especially the prices — aren’t changing fast enough.

Besides President Obama’s repeated promptings for higher to respond and to become more cost effective — as well as his mentioning that the U.S. Government will be pursuing new methods of accreditation if the current institutions of higher ed don’t respond more significantly — here is yet another example of the conversation moving away from traditional higher ed.

I wonder…
How small/large is the window of time before traditional higher ed is moved into the “Have you driven a Ford lately?” mode…? 
It seems that it’s much harder to get customers to come back once they’ve lost their trust/patience/belief/support/etc. in an organization or institution.  As Ford has shown, it can be done, but my point is that there is danger in the status quo and broken business relationships can take a long time to heal — while opening up opportunities for others to step in (such as Toyota, Honda, and others in the case of the automotive industry).

Again, we see whether in higher ed, K-12, or in the corporate world, the key thing is to learn how to build one’s own learning ecosystem.

 

 

With thanks to Stephen Downes for mentioning the item below in his presentation here.

 

MyEducationPath-Feb2013

 

MyEducationPath2-Feb2013

 

MyEducationPathDSC-Feb2013

 

 

Other examples of the conversation moving away from traditional higher ed:

  • Educating the Future: The End of Mediocrity –by Rob Bencini
    Students facing uncertain future opportunities (but very certain debt loads) may increasingly turn away from private colleges and universities that offer little more than a diploma. Instead, they’ll seek more-affordable alternatives for higher education, both real and virtual.
  • The Half-Life of a College Education — from futuristspeaker.com by Thomas Frey
    Excerpt:
    6.) Expanding number of long tails courses – In much the same way “hit” television shows attract millions of viewers while niche TV shows are proliferating, far more niche courses will be developed as traditional college gatekeepers get circumvented.

 

Your Massively Open Offline College Is Broken — by Clay Shirky

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

This is the background to the entire conversation around higher education: Things that can’t last don’t. This is why MOOCs matter. Not because distance learning is some big new thing or because online lectures are a solution to all our problems, but because they’ve come along at a time when students and parents are willing to ask themselves, “Isn’t there some other way to do this?”

MOOCs are a lightning strike on a rotten tree. Most stories have focused on the lightning, on MOOCs as the flashy new thing. I want to talk about the tree.

Imagine picking a thousand students at random from among our institutions of higher education. Now imagine unpicking everyone at one of US News‘ Top 100 liberal arts colleges or universities. You’d expel anyone from the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT. Anyone from from Emory or Rice. Anyone from Vanderbilt, Clemson, Drexel. Anyone from the famously good state schools—UMass, Virginia, the California universities. After ejecting those students from your group, how many of the original thousand would be left?

About 900.

 

graphs

 

 

 

From DSC:
Houston, we have a problem.

College branding: The tipping point — from forbes.com by Roger Dooley

Excerpt:

Change is coming to this market. While there are multiple issues of increasing importance to schools, two stand out as major game-changers.

 


From DSC:
Important notes for the boards throughout higher education to consider:


Your institution can’t increase tuition by one dime next year. If you do, you will become more and more vulnerable to being disrupted. Instead, work very hard to go in the exact opposite direction. Find ways to discount tuition by 50% or more — that is, if you want to stay in business.

Sounds like the scene in Apollo 13, doesn’t it? It is. (i.e. as Tom Hanks character is trying to get back to Earth and has very little to do it with. The engineers back in the United States are called upon to “do the impossible.”)

Some possibilities:

  • Pick your business partners and begin pooling resources and forming stronger consortia. Aim to reduce operating expenses, share the production of high-quality/interactive online courses, and create new streams of income. Experimentation will be key.
  • Work with IBM, Apple, Knewton and the like to create/integrate artificial intelligence into your LMS/CMS in order to handle 80% of the questions/learning issues. (Most likely, the future of MOOCs involves this very sort of thing.)
  • Find ways to create shorter courses/modules and offer them via online-based exchanges/marketplaces.  But something’s bothering me with this one..perhaps we won’t have the time to develop high-quality, interactive, multimedia-based courses…are things moving too fast?
  • Find ways to develop and offer subscription-based streams of content


 

Curbing the cost of college: Coursera wins approval to offer online courses for credit for under $200 — from techcrunch.com by Rip Empson

Excerpt:

Up until now, the startup has not offered degrees or credits for its online classes, which has meant that Coursera classes have existed mostly as a way to pursue supplementary or continuing education — not as part of degree programs. But that changed today, as Coursera announced [last Thursday morning] that five of its courses have been approved for “credit equivalency” by the American Council on Education (ACE). This means that students who complete these five courses can receive college transfer credit at institutions that accept ACE recommendations.

So, importantly, Coursera’s new credit equivalency doesn’t automatically mean that every university it has partnered with automatically guarantees credit for the approved courses; instead, institutions have the option to accept or decline credit. In other words, it’s up to them.

Also see:

Creative learning on mass, or the MIT MOOC– from daveswhiteboard.com by Dave Ferguson

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Just this morning, I came across MIT Media Lab’s announcement for its Learning Creative Learning online course. You can read about it or skim the outline to make your own judgment; I’m enjoying the laid-back description, which tracks with my previous massive open online course experience:

  • “This is a big experiment. Things will break. We don’t have all the answer.”
  • “We hope that participants will jump in as collaborators rather than passive recipients.”
  • “Check out our shiny new platform. Actually, don’t, because we didn’t build a shiny new platform.”

Pressure mounts as MOOCs force higher ed to rethink — from centerdigitaled.com by Tanya Roscorla

Excerpt:

As massively open online courses continue to gain traction, they’re proving a disruptive force in higher education.

The traditional emphasis on in-person classes has brought universities to a price point that does not look sustainable, said Adrian Sannier, senior vice president of product for Pearson eCollege.

“Maybe for the first time in a really long time, higher ed is under a tremendous amount of external scrutiny,” said Sannier, the former vice president and university technology officer at Arizona State University. “There is growing awareness that the prices charged and the rate at which the prices are growing is simply unsustainable.”

 

Also relevant/see:

  • Minding the money — from insidehighered.com by Allie Grasgreen
    One might hope that the economic recession, which formally ended in 2009, is no longer inhibiting students’ educational pursuits — or, perhaps more realistically, not as much. But an annual survey of freshmen suggests precisely the opposite: more students than ever (66.6 percent) say America’s economic condition significantly affected their choice of college — so the recession’s residual effects, at least, linger on.

 

MOOCs for credit — from insidehighered.com by Scott Jaschik

Excerpt:

Two announcements this week suggest that MOOCs — massive open online courses — will increasingly include a route for students to receive academic credit.

Georgia State University announced Tuesday that it will start to review MOOCs for credit much like it reviews courses students have taken at other institutions, or exams they have taken to demonstrate competency in certain areas.

And Academic Partnerships, a company that works with public universities to put their degree programs online, announced an effort in which the first course of these programs can become a MOOC, with full credit awarded to those who successfully complete the course. The educational idea is that this offering will encourage more students to start degree programs. The financial idea is that the tuition revenue gained by participating institutions when students move from the MOOC to the rest of the program (which will continue to charge tuition) will offset the additional costs of offering the first course free.

 

From DSC:
I think MOOCs still need some work, but they tap into a blend of formal/structured learning and informal/unstructured learning that is attractive to many — not to mention that MOOCs offer people more choice/more control, chances for contribution and participation, greater ownership of the learning, and much lower costs.  As such, they continue to be a valuable experiment within higher education. They continue to usher in the era of what I call “The Walmart of Education”. They also provide students with a way to see if they are interested in a discipline without having to invest much $$ in the course(s).

Also see:

  • Free online college courses take big step forward — from forbes.com by Susan Adams
    Excerpt:
    Free online college classes known as “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, have made another big stride toward changing the model for higher education. Dozens of public universities are planning to offer introductory MOOCs for credit to anyone with an internet connection around the world, according to a piece today in The New York Times. The universities, including Arizona State, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Arkansas system, are hoping that students who pass the free MOOCs will then enroll in the schools and pay tuition to earn a degree.

Federal report highlights the economic case for higher education — from educause.edu by Jaret Cummings

Excerpt:

The U.S. Departments of The Treasury and Education recently announced the release of a joint report highlighting the economic value of higher education achievement for individuals and the country as a whole. Entitled The Economics of Higher Education, the report confirms the continuing importance of postsecondary success to economic progress, including key findings such as the following…

From DSC:
Much of this is great — no doubt about it!  Now, the question is, how do we make higher education more accessible/affordable yet still maintain the quality? Along these lines, see:

After housing and the stock market, is higher education the next bubble to burst? — from forbes.com by Avi Dan

Excerpt:

Few industries today have a worse business model than higher learning institutions.

Simply put, colleges are slowly pricing themselves out of existence. Tuition has consistently increased faster than inflation and household income, to the point that it is now four times more expensive to attend college than it was a generation ago. The result is that the average college senior carries $25,000 in student loans at graduations. The debt can follow students around for years, sometimes to the end of time, literally: $36 billion in loan debt is held by people over 60-years old!

 

Higher education and the fiscal threat -- from The Parthenon Group - November 2012

 

Addendum on 12/14/12:

  • Big construction costs, MOOC disruption mean ominous cocktail for higher ed — from educationdive.com by Davide Savenije
    Dive Summary:

    • After years of aggressive expansion efforts, higher education is facing the consequences — according to Moody’s, overall debt levels for rated institutions more than doubled from 2000 to 2011 while donations and investments shrank by more than 40% relative to the debt.
    • While debt has swiftly reached a tipping point for universities, they are not alone —  the total amount of student debt currently exceeds $1 trillion and nearly one in every six borrowers’ student loan balance is in default.
    • Experts and school officials are predicting an imminent reshaping of the field of higher education — Harvard’s annual fiscal report claims “the need for change is clear” as institutions face a decreased “ability to generate […] new resources”.
    • As prospective students become aware of the decreasing value of the higher ed degree, the sudden emergence of MOOCs are becoming an increasingly viable and economically-friendly alternative.

 

From DSC:
We had better step up the pace of innovating/experimenting – and move to do so quickly. But the problem is, moving quickly is not in the cultures of most of the more traditional institutions of higher education.

 

Also relevant:

From DSC:
Some reflections on New platform lets professors set prices for their online courses — from InsideHigherEd.com by Jeffrey R. Young

Excerpt:

Professors typically don’t worry about what price point a course will sell at, or what amenities might attract a student to pick one course over another. But a new online platform, Professor Direct, lets instructors determine not only how much to charge for such courses, but also how much time they want to devote to services like office hours, online tutorials, and responding to students’ e-mails.

The new service is run by StraighterLine, a company that offers online, self-paced introductory courses. Unlike massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, StraighterLine’s courses aren’t free. But tuition is lower than what traditional colleges typically charge—the company calls its pricing “ultra-affordable.” A handful of colleges accept StraighterLine courses for transfer credit.
.

StraighterLine-ProfsDirectlyToStudents-12-12-12

 

 

From DSC:
The power of online-based marketplaces. We’ve seen it in other industries.  Are we now going to see more of this within higher education as the unbundling of higher education seems to be a possibility?  Will there be an increased importance of professors’ individual brands? Could be.

The Power of Online Exchanges

.

DanielChristian-The-unbundling-of-higher-education

 

From DSC:
Congrats Burck & Co. on your continued innovative thinking and business models! Way to help keep a college education accessible to many!

 

Citing IT skills shortage, IBM wants to expand presence at universities — from wiredacademic.com

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

“We want to be the scale up partner of choice for these universities,” said Jim Sporher, head of IBM’s university programs. “We want to make sure they have access to technology and understand our strategy.”  He also sees massive open online courses (MOOCs) as a mega-trend and will be considering ways for IBM to be part of the MOOC trend in the future, particularly as many of the MOOC providers such as Udacity and Coursera offer classes in computer science.

As a big blue-chip progenitor of the tech industry, IBM is worth listening to in many regards. For one, corporate computing trends often filter down into the education space. The corporate world often has the money to purchase and deploy game-changing technologies. IBM sees that it also works the other way too, where computing at the university level creates new businesses and ideas that move up into the corporate realm.

.

From DSC:
I wonder…will the corporations develop their own MOOCs?  Their own digital “playlists” and associated exams? (i.e. that someone needs to go through and pass in order to work for them…show me what you can do.)  Hmmm…

Also see:

.

McKinsey and Company -- Education to Employment -- An executive summary

 

.

Also see:

 

Virtual U. -- College of future could be come one, come all

.

From DSC:
I don’t think that what we know today as “MOOCs” are anywhere’s nearly fully-baked and ready for prime time.  They will be refined, altered , and new systems/software will be further developed for them.   But the idea of reducing costs, increasing access, and experimenting sounds good to me!  As illustrated above, the idea of “Rock Star Professor” or “Super Professor” is gaining traction.   Also, note the team-based approach here.

 

 

 

Taking the next step in online education with credit equivalency — from forbes.com by Daphne Koller & Andrew Ng

Excerpt:

At MOOCs like Coursera, offering web-based courses is the first step in increasing access to education for millions of people around the world.  But for many students, much of the value of taking a course is lost if that course is not helpful in allowing them to obtain a degree.  To help address this limitation, we recently announced a collaboration with American Council on Education (ACE) to begin a credit-equivalence evaluation of some courses offered on Coursera — which means that in the future, students will potentially have the opportunity to receive college transfer credit at institutions choosing to accept the ACE recommendations.  This move is well in line with the current trend to provide students with credit for prior learning (including on-the-job training) and for competency, a trend whose aim is to increase completion rate and reduce time to completion.

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