New test for computers: Grading essays at college level — from nytimes.com by John Markoff
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Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times
EdX, a nonprofit enterprise founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
will release automated software that uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers.

 

Excerpt:

EdX, the nonprofit enterprise founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer courses on the Internet, has just introduced such a system and will make its automated software available free on the Web to any institution that wants to use it. The software uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers, freeing professors for other tasks.

My thoughts on the future of higher education -- March 2013 by Daniel Christian

 

Also, the PDF file of this article is here.

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From DSC:
Though the title of this article I wrote says 10 years, it may be more or less (and given the pace of change, I would lean towards sooner rather than later).  

If you haven’t read Christensen’s/Horn’s/Johnson’s work re: disruption — such as Disrupting Class and/or The Innovator’s Dilemma — it would be worth your time to do so. They are right on the mark. What they have been asserting is happening within higher education.  The article briefly addresses face-to-face learning and hybrid learning as well.  Readers of this blog will know that I have been pressing for higher ed to reinvent itself in order to stay relevant. There is danger in the status quo, especially when the conversation continues to move away from traditional higher education.

See other perspectives out at evoLLLution.com as well.

 

 

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:
Some very frustrated reflections after reading:

Excerpt:

Right now, boys are falling out of the kindergarten through 12th grade educational pipeline in ways that we can hardly imagine.

 

This situation continues to remind me of the oil spill in the Gulf (2010), where valuable resources spilled into the water untapped — later causing some serious issues:
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From DSC:
What are we doing?!!! We’ve watched the dropout rates grow — it doesn’t seem we’ve changed our strategies nearly enough! But the point that gets lost in this is that we will all pay for these broken strategies — and for generations to come!  It’s time to seriously move towards identifying and implementing some new goals.

What should the new goals look like? Here’s my take on at least a portion of a new vision for K-12 — and collegiate — education:

  • Help students identify their God-given gifts and then help them build up their own learning ecosystems to support the development of those gifts. Hook them up with resources that will develop students’ abilities and passions.
    .
  • Part of their learning ecosystems could be to help them enter into — and build up — communities of practice around subjects that they enjoy learning about. Those communities could be local, national, or international. (Also consider the creation of personalized learning agents, as these become more prevalent/powerful.)
    .
  • Do everything we can to make learning enjoyable and foster a love of learning — as we need lifelong learners these days.
    (It doesn’t help society much if students are dropping out of K-12 or if people struggle to make it through graduation — only to then harbor ill feelings towards learning/education in general for years to come.  Let’s greatly reduce the presence/usage of standardized tests — they’re killing us!  They don’t seem to be producing long-term positive results. I congratulate the recent group of teachers who refused to give their students such tests; and I greatly admire them for getting rid of a losing strategy.)

    .
  • Give students more choice, more control over what their learning looks like; let them take their own paths as much as possible (provide different ways to meet the same learning objective is one approach…but perhaps we need to think beyond/bigger than that. The concern/fear arises…but how will we manage this? That’s where a good share of our thinking should be focused; generating creative answers to that question.)
    .
  • Foster curiosity and wonder
    .
  • Provide cross-disciplinary assignments/opportunities
    .
  • Let students work on/try to resolve real issues in their communities
    .
  • Build up students’ appreciation of faith, hope, love, empathy, and a desire to make the world a better place. Provide ways that they can contribute.
    .
  • Let students experiment more — encourage failure.
    .

 

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.

 

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.”

From DSC:
First, what prompted the questions and reflections that are listed below?  For that, I turn to some recent items that I ran across involving the use of robotics and whether that may or may not be affecting employment:


 

The work of Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee; for example their book Race Against the Machine

Excerpt of description:

But digital innovation has also changed how the economic pie is distributed, and here the news is not good for the median worker. As technology races ahead, it can leave many people behind. Workers whose skills have been mastered by computers have less to offer the job market, and see their wages and prospects shrink. Entrepreneurial business models, new organizational structures and different institutions are needed to ensure that the average worker is not left behind by cutting-edge machines.

 

How to freak out responsibly about the rise of the robots — from theatlantic.com by Derek Thompson
It’s fun to imagine an economy where machines are smarter than humans. But we don’t need  an artificial crisis over artificial intelligence.

Excerpt:

Let’s say it upfront: Technology can replace jobs and (at least temporarily) increase income inequality. From the spinning jenny to those massive mechanical arms flying wildly around car assembly lines, technology raises productivity by helping workers accomplish more in less time (i.e.: put a power drill in a human hand) and by replacing workers altogether (i.e.: build a power-drilling bot).

What ails us today isn’t a surplus of robots, but a deficit of demand. Yes, we have a manufacturing industry undergoing a sensational, but job-killing, productivity revolution — very much like the one that took farm employment from 40 percent in 1900 to less than 5 percent today. But the other nine-tenths of the economy are basically going through an old-fashioned weak-but-steady recovery, the kind that hundreds of years of financial crises would predict.

 

America has hit “peak jobs” — from techcrunch.com by Jon Evans

Excerpt:

“The middle class is being hollowed out,” says James Altucher. “Economists are shifting their attention toward a […] crisis in the United States: the significant increase in income inequality,” reports the New York Times.

Think all those job losses over the last five years were just caused by the recession? No: “Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market,” according to an AP report on how technology is killing middle-class jobs.

 

Technology and the employment challenge — from project-syndicate.org by Michael Spence

Excerpt:

MILAN – New technologies of various kinds, together with globalization, are powerfully affecting the range of employment options for individuals in advanced and developing countries alike – and at various levels of education. Technological innovations are not only reducing the number of routine jobs, but also causing changes in global supply chains and networks that result in the relocation of routine jobs – and, increasingly, non-routine jobs at multiple skill levels – in the tradable sector of many economies.

 

 

Man vs. robot — from macleans.ca by Peter Nowak

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industrial-robots

 

 

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Secondly, some reflections (from DSC)


I wonder…

  • What types of jobs are opening up now? (example here)
  • What types of jobs will be opening up soon? How about in 3-5 years from now?
  • Should these trends affect the way we educate and prepare our kids today? 
  • Should these trends affect the way we help employees grow/reinvent themselves?

Again, for me, the answer lies at least partly in helping people consistently obtain the knowledge that they need — i.e. to help them build, grow, and maintain their own learning ecosystems — throughout their lifetimes.  We need to help people dip their feet into the appropriate streams of content that are constantly flowing by.

Perhaps that’s one of the key new purposes that K-12, higher ed, and the corporate training departments out there will play in the future as they sift through the massive amounts of information coming at us to help individuals identify:
.

  • What are the most effective tools — and methods — that people can use to connect with others?
    (Then allow folks to pick what works best for them. Current examples: blogging/RSS feeds, Twitter, social bookmarking.)
    .
  • Who are some of the folks within each particular discipline/line of work that others (who want to learn about those disciplines) should know about?
    .
  • What trends are coming down the pike and how should we be preparing ourselves — and/or our organizations — for those changes?
    .

 

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.

SanJoseStatePlus-UdacityPartnership-Jan2013

 

Also see:

Excerpt:

Today Udacity is thrilled to announce a partnership with San Jose State University to pilot three courses — Entry-Level Mathematics, College Algebra, and Elementary Statistics — available online at an affordable tuition rate and for college credit. To my knowledge, this is the first time a MOOC has been offered for credit and purely online. Much credit for this partnership goes to Mo Qayoumi and Ellen Junn, president and provost of SJSU, and to the five fearless SJSU professors who have chosen to work with us at Udacity to explore this new medium. The offices of Governor Brown and CSU Chancellor White have also been critically important to this partnership for their leadership and expediency. Last but not least, I want to personally thank our great Udacians who, like everyone on this list, have worked endless hours to drive innovation.
Over the past year, MOOCs have received a lot of attention in the media and education circles mostly because so many students are taking advantage of the course for free. Predictions that MOOCs would fundamentally change higher education often revolved around the fact that the courses have unprecedented reach and affordability.

 

From DSC:
Given that such “Walmarts of Education” (i.e. solid learning at a greatly reduced prices) continue to develop, what’s our/your plans for responding to this trend? How are we/you going to compete?  What’s our/your vision and strategy?  By the way, you can look all you want to for data — but at the end of the day, it’s likely with this sort of thing that you won’t find all of the data that you require to make a decision. Examples:

  • When I began working for Kraft Foods in 1990 (brought in to roll out email to 66 plants at the time), I believed in the power of email when few others did. Email was viewed as “fluff” and it would never be used for solid business practices; management put the project on hold. But I kept working with email at Kraft — trying to get others to use it. If you looked for data back then, you wouldn’t find it. But by the time I left Kraft in 1997, thousands of people could communicate with thousands of other people throughout the world — within minutes.
    .
  • When Alexander Graham Bell introduced the telephone, what data would support the success of his invention?  I suppose you could have pulled some data on the usage of the telegraph, but even then, vision would have had to trump the data (the ancestor of Western Union rejected his invention, as they questioned why anyone would need/use a telephone when there was already the telegraph in usage).
    .
  • Such technological developments often are not so easy to back up with data; they require some vision, experimentation, and risk taking.

 

Colleges lose pricing power — from the WSJ by Michael Corkery

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The demand for four-year college degrees is softening, the result of a perfect storm of economic and demographic forces that is sapping pricing power at a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities, according to a new survey by Moody’s Investors Service.

Facing stagnant family income, shaky job prospects for graduates and a smaller pool of high-school graduates, more schools are reining in tuition increases and giving out larger scholarships to attract students, Moody’s concluded in a report set to be released Thursday.

.

From DSC:
To me, this is just another way of saying the higher education bubble is popping.  I think the bubble may pop at different times for different institutions, but the overall picture is clear: Higher ed will either reinvent itself — and hopefully quickly — or it will lose a portion of its relevance and place in society (how much is ultimately lost depends upon how much higher ed can experiment, innovate, and reinvent itself).

Also relevant here:

 

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!

 

From DSC:
Whereas:

  • The Walmart of Education continues and higher ed finds itself in a game-changing environment
  • The pace of change continues to accelerate
  • Disruptive innovations continue to poke at the higher education bubble
  • There is danger in the status quo
  • We all need to constantly reinvent ourselves and our organizations in order to remain relevant…

…institutions of higher education would be wise to significantly increase the priority of experimentation on their campuses during 2013.  This might take the form of creating smaller, more nimble organizations within their overall universities or colleges, or it might be experimenting with new business models, or it might be identifying/experimenting with promising educational technologies or new pedagogies, etc.  I will have several blog postings re: experimentation — and potential things to try out — during 2013; so stay tuned.

Whether we are staff, faculty, or administration, change is coming our way in 2013.  So starting today, get involved with further innovations and experiments on your campus — don’t be a roadblock or you will likely find your institution eventually becoming irrelevant. As Steve Jobs did/believed, cannibalize your own organization before someone else does.

 

The pace has changed significantly and quickly

 

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