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Thursday, January 31, 2013


The finance piece of MOOCs is important and it still looks to me like only StraighterLine is addressing it.  I read yet another article on poor pay for adjunct instructors.  Will mentor pay be any better?  (Assuming MOOCs move us towards a mentor model rather than the traditional faculty on the stage model.) 

In the online world it does feel to me like the interaction between learners and instructors and between learners and other learners is necessary to developing  critical thinking skills.  Both of those forms of interaction require skilled activity on the part of the instructor which translates into time on task.   If education becomes more individualized that will possible require more time on task... and more funding.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MOOCs again

Are we really all going to learn from the best? And do the best really all work at Ivy League universities? I think my community college background is showing here, but I have some doubts about the Ivy League approach being taken by Coursera, Udacity, and EdX.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Grading and Learning

How much does the process of grading get in the way of a conversation about the content with your students? How do you move it out of the way? Or conversely, does the process of explicit evaluation help the conversation?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Still thinking about the future

I liked this article:  I especially liked the wish that we would all focus on pedagogy.  I completely agree that there has been too  much focus on video and reproducing lectures.  Sure that is one way to get content to someone, but there are many other ways that might be more effective.  I love the idea of gaming and situation analyses.   In my class, with my limited time and technical skills I have tried to make a few of the assignments relevant -- teach your neighbor or write an analysis for your boss kind of thing.  That only goes so far though.  My hope is that organizations like the Gates Foundation will spend their money creating really interesting courses that approach learning and teaching in different ways, maybe including the lecture, but not focusing on it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Future of higher Ed

Okay I could not resist the post title since it is still the first week of January. And it's a silly title as it implies a disintegration or disappearance. That's not what is happening though .... Or maybe it is a disintegration in the sense that the landscape is not as carefully maintained as it once was. Certainly students have more options now than they had even a decade ago.

The largest change is that colleges and universities are beginning to allow students to have those options and to integrate them into their college degree plan. As the pool of 18 year olds whose parents are willing and able to fund four years of college gets tighter more types of colleges find themselves looking at other demographics. And other demographics come with baggage... err... learning... from other places. They have more skills, learning, and understanding picked up on the job or from workplace education classes or from random classes from many colleges and universities. And they want credit for those skills and those learning experiences. How to assess that learning and integrate it into the current AA or BA is perhaps the question for the next few years. We don't want to lose the strengths that come from a liberal arts education, but we also need to truthfully assess our students as they come to us. And that doesn't mean asking them to take classes on material they already have a solid understanding of, even if they picked that understanding up in a non-traditional place.

The future of higher ed is exciting as long as we understand that learning can take place apart from the traditional academic campus and as our students become more integrated outside of campus they will want to see that reflected on their degree plans.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who is not ciritcal of MOOCs?

I have been reading critiques of MOOCS, of which there are legion.  The best I have seen is here:  The bottom line for me is that there is no business model.  Everyone teaching appears to be paid by someone else.  This of course is a strength of StraighterLine -- there is a business model.  I have to say I am insanely curious about the outcome of the College Algebra experiment from the perspective of the MOOCs.  Will learners pay more for a name brand? And if they do will adjunct faculty earn more for teaching in the future?