Random conversations at the edX institutions: “There is no strategic discussion on this campus of the future of higher education.” A speaker proposing massive changes: “We will all disappear.”
The very idea that a study exists to contradict experience draws overt hostility: discussing Academically Adrift a senior faculty member reports: “I find that [referring to the Arum/Rokser finding that 45% of students show no measurable increase in learning after two years of college] very hard to believe. The students I see as Juniors are measurably better than they were as Freshmen.”
Big Idea: Daphne Koller seminar at Georgia Tech: Benjamin Bloom’s 2 Sigma Problem is a driver of the Koller/Ng approach to MOOCs. It has been known for 30 years that the mastery classroom moves who populations by one standard deviation. 1-1 tutoring moves it another, hence “2 Sigma” Why have institutions ignored this result? It would require abandoning normative testing. Non-normative assessment is widely thought to depress productivity, but the long-term effects of future failure are not considered in those calculations. Bottom line is that the technology enables a solution to 2 Sigma. Who will sign up to the obvious challenge?
In edX’s MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), I believe we have a product without a strategy. We should design products that help us improve while also helping schools everywhere. MOOCs do neither…
I believe MOOCs are a fad. Right now, their purveyors are preoccupied by a race to volume.
Collections of inexpensive “course badges” could undermine the value of a diploma and society would realize too late that critical thinking, creativity, and professionalism are not easily adopted or evaluated via a screen. Imagine what state legislatures might do to their state’s college budgets. What would happen to the symbiotic relationship between education and research?
Global discussion among higher ed leaders focused on the winner-takes-all aspects of MOOCs. There are other possible outcomes because consolidation is not an inevitable consequence of serving new markets. It seems to me equally likely that there will be a very long tails in which the marginal cost of defining and launching a new, specialized university .
How to blend: the NPR model for online education: 50% highly produced content + 50% local content.
As the the Adrift-denying professor mentioned above illustrates it’s a constant struggle between data and how you feel about what’s going on. How you feel about it has no effect whatsoever.
“Education theory is like a toothbrush. Everybody has one, but nobody wants to use someone else’s.”
Merrick Furst in today’s C21U meeting: “It’s all about value. If you get that wrong then these discussions [of future scenarios for institutions like Georgia Tech] don’t matter at all.”