Josh Goodman-56099-1

Josh Goodman from Harvard’s Kennedy School will be giving a seminar January 7 on Georgia Tech’s Online Masters Degree in Computer Science  at Stanford University’s Center for Education and Policy Analysis.

Tilte: Can MOOCs Increase Access to Education? Evidence from a Large New Computer Science Degree Program

Summary: Though MOOCs and online technology have generated excitement about their potential to increase access to education, most existing research has focused on comparisons of student performance across online and in-person formats. We provide the first evidence on the impact of online education on the amount of education pursued. Georgia Tech’s Online M.S. in Computer Science is the first model combining the inexpensive nature of MOOCs with a degree program from a highly-ranked institution, a price-quality pairing that has not been seen before. A regression discontinuity design around an admissions threshold shows that access to this low cost, high quality option substantially increases the amount of formal education pursued, with demand driven largely by mid-career Americans for whom in-person options are not appealing. Our estimates suggest that, by satisfying previously unmet demand for mid-career training, this single program will boost annual production of American computer science master’s degrees by eight percent.

SmartMoney's "payback" survey of 50 t

With the price of higher education rising much faster than inflation, many students and families find themselves struggling to pay for college, or looking for ways to reduce or offset the costs. Author and colleague Jeff Selingo is Visiting Scholar at Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities.  Jeff and I recently sat down with Rick Clark to answer the question “Is College worth it?”This series of 14 videos is designed to help, with expert advice and creative ways for meeting this challenge, beginning with the question: “Is College Worth It?”


Videos available here.




A deeply affecting article about the irrationality of admissions to top-tier universities. Students and parents alike are convinced that rankings matter and that being admitted to #10 is better than settling for #11. Millions of dollars are spent on this proposition.

In fact, everyone is so convinced of this (despite the apparent randomness of the process) that armies of 18-year-old high school students are willing to alter their aspirations to make it through a selection scheme that doesn’t much care about them.

Math with Bad Drawings

Last year, I conducted alumni interviews for Yale applicants. It’s an easy gig. You take a smart, ambitious 17-year-old out for hot chocolate, ask them about their life, and then report back to the university, “Yup, this is another great kid.”

I recently got an email asking me to re-enlist. Was I ready for another admissions season?

I checked “No,” mostly because “Aw, hell no” wasn’t an option.

Why my reluctance? No grudge, no beef, no axe to grind. It’s just that the whole admissions process is so spectacularly crazy that participating in it— even in the peripheral role of “alumni interviewer”—feels like having spiders crawling out of my eyeballs.

In the last 15 to 20 years, Yale’s applicant pool has gone from “hypercompetitive” to “a Darwinian dystopia so cutthroat you’d feel guilty even simulating it on a computer, just in case the simulations had emotions.”

I don’t fault the admissions office. For every…

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Welcome back!  “Revolution in Higher Education” was released by Amazon and other booksellers a few weeks ago.  There is also an audio version in CD and online formats.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Fans of “Abelard to Apple” will recognize this as a continuation of the story of how higher education got to its current state and where it is going.  However, Revolution is edgier and I think it will promote more spirited debate. There are already reviews that call it depressing and others that call it inspiring.  The one thing that everyone notices is my emphasis on the social contract with universities.  It is the unifying thread.

I want to give special thanks to Ambassador Andrew Young for a wonderful Foreword that focuses on the role of American universities in providing access to quality education.  Ambassador Young and I will be taking this message to audiences over the next several months.

I’ll be blogging about the three themes of this book: affordability, access, and achievement.  A lot has happened since the manuscript was completed earlier in the year and I want to update you on where the revolution stands.

Mark Guzdial comments on a recent Slate article reporting results of a metastudy that (1) claims to show that deliberate practice does not account for acquisition of expertise, and (2) that the only other source must be innate factors like genetics. It would be an important finding if true, but Guzdial points out some critical flaws:

The bottom-line is that the [Slate] study did not test [the 10,000 Rule] question. They tested a weak form of the “10,000 hour rule” (that it’s just “practice,” not “deliberate practice”) and found it wanting. But their explanation, that it’s genetics, is not supported by their evidence.

Computing Education Research Blog

A recent article in Slate (see here) suggests that practice may not lead to expertise, that the “10,000 hour rule” is wrong. The “10,000 hour rule” was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers (see excerpt here), but really comes from an important paper by K. Anders Ericsson and colleagues, “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.” Ericsson claimed that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice results in expert-level performance.

The Slate article is based mostly on a new meta-analysis (see here) by Macnamara, Hambrick (also a co-author on the Slate article), and Oswald which reviewed and combined studies on expertise. They found that practice always was positively correlated with better performance, but did not explain all of (or even most of) the difference in expertise between study participants. The Slate article authors suggest, then, that deliberate practice is not…

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