Higher Ed Lab Notebook 10/1/2012

  • Online debate raging at Georgia Tech regarding “Why we should rule MOOCs, and how” — email thread among CS faculty is now a week old and involves nearly 30 faculty members on all sides of the issue.
  • Education Sec. Arne Duncan kicks off invited symposium of leaders in higher ed innovation at meeting designed to drive productivity in postsecondary education
    • Duncan will ask for commitments in areas like creating sustainable faculty buy-in, MOOCs, and predictive analytics
    • 175 attendees selected by Dept of Ed and WH OSTP who are jointly sponsoring the event
    • Represented — Coursera, Udacity, eDx.  Also @openstudy, @C21U and others.
    • Call to action will result –stay tuned.
    • Move from islands of excellence to systems.
    • Duncan acknowledged pros and cons for MOOCs but also said classes with tens of thousands of students are something new and you can’t ignore new things.  At the very least this kind of scale was not happening five years ago.
    • Watch #higheredinn
  • Essential reading:  Ithaka report (barriers-to-adoption-of-online-learning-systems-in-us-higher-education) co-authored by former Princeton President Bill Bowen: Barriers to Adoption of Online Learning in US Higher Education
  • Deadline for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation proposals aimed at bending the cost curve in the first two years of college using MOOCs. 20 courses account for most of the cost and there may be more efficient, more effective delivery models.
  • When will accreditors take another look at online delivery? Online universities like WGU have been at it for awhile, but open courseware presents new challenges.  There will be announcements over the next few weeks.
  • Online universities teach down to their students. Overheard at one of the prominent online universities: Let’s select a degree name and then see if we can fit it into the envelope that we think represents our students. Too much math? No problem, we can just get rid of it because our students will never be able to handle it.
  • Big idea of the day:  Everyone is talking about about bending the cost curves by getting 80% of education for 50% of the cost.  Question — can we get 120% of education (measure the outcomes however you wish) for 80% of the current cost?  This is a different kind of challenge and it cannot even be framed without fundamentally rethinking how we structure and deliver educational experiences.  It almost surely requires technology to mediate it. Hal Plotkin (#higheredinno) made the point earlier today.  With technology the “you can’ts are different.”

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