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MOOCs in 2014: Breaking Down the Numbers

In November 2011 I was taking one of the first MOOCs from Stanford. At that time, many new MOOCs were being announced and I started Class Central as a way to keep track of them and figure out what I should take next. The website gathers course listings through provider sites, social media, and tips from MOOC providers and users. The figures below are based on these data.

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Online courses, diets, and going to the gym. The science of why we give up.

One of the characteristic features of Massive Open Online Courses is the observation that no matter how many students enroll in a course, only between 5 to 10% of them will ever complete it. Setting aside the argument of whether this actually means that MOOCs are considerably less “massive” than the name suggests, the interesting question is what is behind this high level of drop-outs and why does it seem so consistent?

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Demystifying the MOOC

When massive open online courses first grabbed the spotlight in 2011, many saw in them promise of a revolutionary force that would disrupt traditional higher education by expanding access and reducing costs. The hope was that MOOCs — classes from elite universities, most of them free, in some cases enrolling hundreds of thousands of students each — would make it possible for anyone to acquire an education, from a villager in Turkey to a college dropout in the United States.

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How Does Coursera Make Money?

Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer courses online for free. It was started by two Stanford professors in late 2011. In less than three years it has reached 10 million students around the world and raised $85 million in venture capital.

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MOOCs are not enough. How to use the full potential of online education?

Even having 100K students watching lectures online, it is same old teaching model. Simple moving old education to web is not enough. We can (and should!) create new and better model of education. Using web advantages. It should be based on three pillars - students-goals orientation, full personalization and free flexibility - learning anytime and anywhere, for free.

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What’s a MOOC?

If 2012 was loudly proclaimed to be The Year of the MOOC, the two years since then may have been The Time of Second Thoughts about Massive Open Online Courses. The idea behind MOOCs is still appealing — using the Internet to open up the lecture hall at no charge, reaching tens of thousands of students at a time from poor countries and rich ones alike. The success of the first truly massive courses triggered grand predictions of a revolution in higher education. The focus now is on more mundane matters, like getting more than a tiny fraction of students who start MOOCs to finish and figuring out how to pay for their production. A growing number of academic leaders are questioning whether MOOCs are a sustainable model at all. Meanwhile, students of all ages and nationalities continue to vote with their clicks: More than 10 million people have signed up for classes in everything from computer science to Greek mythology.

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Will SOOCs eat MOOCs for breakfast?

At this year’s EdTech Europe summit, one theme was writ large in every panel discussion: are MOOCs really the magic bullet in opening access to education? Or are they – ask it quietly – too open to be truly effective? As the MOOC hype begins to die down, a more targeted, less open approach to online courses is making its presence felt. Amar Kumar, Vice President in the Office of Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, breaks it down for us.

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MOOCs: Coursera moves towards massive revenues on certification

For all of those who say that MOOCs can’t be monetized, Coursera’s Signature Track is proving them wrong. After 700 years, Universities still struggle with monetization and funding models and most would agree that the current systems in the developed world are in a mess, of not broken. Here’s a system that not only matches demand with supply, but provides a way to match payment to product. Not only that, the cost for the course is free at the point of delivery, and because so many participate, it’s dirt cheap for assessment and certification.

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What I Learned By Flipping The MOOC

Two of the hot topics in education in the last few years have been Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the flipped classroom. I’ve been experimenting with both of them.

What I’ve learned (besides being able to use the word “pedagogy” in a sentence) is 1) assigning students lectures as homework doesn’t guarantee the students will watch them and 2) in a flipped classroom you can become hostage to the pedagogy.

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Interview with Dr. Stalburg: MOOC Creator Reflects on Lessons Learned and OER

In August 2013, Dr. Caren Stalburg and her course “Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education” joined the University of Michigan massive online open course (MOOC) collection on Coursera. At Open.Michigan, we’re extremely excited about this course because it’s the first U-M MOOC to apply Creative Commons licenses to all of its downloadable materials. Meaning that the materials are both freely accessible via Coursera and Open.Michigan, and the materials are licensed for remixing and reuse by students and educators for their own teaching and learning purposes.

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10 great MOOCs for techies -- all free, starting soon!

Attention, technology pros: CIOs and hiring managers have weighed in on which IT skills are in highest demand right now. Is your resume up to snuff?

If not, consider enrolling in a Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs offer open access and unlimited participation via the Web to some of the most popular tech courses on the planet -- for free. While you may not emerge with a certificate or a degree, MOOCs can be a great -- and cheap -- way to boost your credentials.

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Completion Data For MOOCs

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am doing some Gates funded research on MOOCs. My part was learning design analysis, while Katy Jordan has been looking at factors influencing completion rates. All this work is Katy's, I take no credit for it. She would blog it, but is about to have her first baby any day now, and strangely that has taken priority over blogging about MOOCs, so she said I could blog it on her behalf.

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A MOOC Thought Experiment

A number of years ago, I wrote occasional pieces for a now-defunct online publication that focused on the intersection of economics, politics and culture. And while my writing centered on the culture and politics bits, my favorite economist at the journal was Arnold Kling (whose work can still be found here).

A couple of days ago, I tried digging up a piece he wrote which gave an economics-based explanation as to why there was so much high and low quality stuff on the web.

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The classroom will learn you

Since the days of the one room schoolhouse, both K-12 and higher education classrooms have been focused on a one-to-many interaction between a teacher and a group of students. All students receive the same material from a teacher in a lecture setting because individual attention for 30 or more is nearly impossible. But IBM and its education partners think the classroom of the future will shift from a one-size-fits-all model to a truly personalized environment.

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Study: MOOC students are highly educated, job-oriented

When Penn announced its partnership with massive open online course provider Coursera, in April 2012, administrators lauded the education startup as a way for the University to push its access agenda forward on a global scale. By making parts of a Penn education available to students worldwide, Coursera, administrators said, had the ability to revolutionize higher education.

More than a year and a half later, Coursera is still a long way from realizing that goal.

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A Comparison of Online MOOC Versus On Campus Course Delivery

I report on the demographics and experiences of two cohorts of students who completed an 8 week course. The cohorts include: 29,000 students who took the course via MOOC, and 100 students who took the course on campus at Georgia Tech. Of those students, the data is based on 879 respondents who completed the course online and 57 who completed the course on campus. Both groups were provided the same curricula and were assessed according to the same criteria.

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Most MOOC Users Well-Educated, Study Finds

College-level courses distributed free online have much more to do before they achieve their proponents' hopes of eliminating economic, geographic, racial and gender barriers to higher education, according to a University of Pennsylvania study published Wednesday.

The university surveyed nearly 35,000 students from more than 200 countries and territories who participated in the 32 massive open online courses, or MOOCs, it distributes through Coursera, the largest provider of the free courses. Researchers found that most of the students were already well educated, and most were young men looking for new skills to advance their careers.

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Tom Palaima on the power of mentors

I have been meditating upon mentors – slightly unmoored still by the loss of my own mentor of nearly 40 years, the father of Mycenaean epigraphy, Emmett L. Bennett Jr, who died in December 2011 – and on massive open online courses.

I have spent nearly my whole life, since kindergarten in 1956, in love with learning and teaching. I have derived lots of pleasure and satisfaction from thinking, reading, exploring new ideas, and trying to identify and then answer questions and solve problems. These are all to me social processes that need to be protected and nurtured for the good of society. So when people tamper with the personal and interpersonal humanising elements of education, I feel they are defiling something sacred and making it harder for others to learn what it is to be human in the ways in which I was lucky to have had the chance to do

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UDACITY'S SEBASTIAN THRUN, GODFATHER OF FREE ONLINE EDUCATION, CHANGES COURSE

There's a story going around college campuses--whispered about over coffee in faculty lounges, held up with great fanfare in business-school sections, and debated nervously by chain-smoking teaching assistants.

It begins with a celebrated Stanford University academic who decides that he isn't doing enough to educate his students. The Professor is a star, regularly packing 200 students into lecture halls, and yet he begins to feel empty. What are 200 students in an age when billions of people around the world are connected to the Internet?

So one day in 2011, he sits down in his living room with an inexpensive digital camera and starts teaching, using a stack of napkins instead of a chalkboard. "Welcome to the first unit of Online Introduction to Artificial Intelligence," he begins, his face poorly lit and slightly out of focus. "I'll be teaching you the very basics today." Over the next three months, the Professor offers the same lectures, homework assignments, and exams to the masses as he does to the Stanford students who are paying $52,000 a year for the privilege. A computer handles the grading, and students are steered to web discussion forums if they need extra help.

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Udacity's Sebastian Thrun, godfather of free online education, changes course

There's a story going around college campuses—whispered about over coffee in faculty lounges, held up with great fanfare in business-school sections, and debated nervously by chain-smoking teaching assistants.

It begins with a celebrated Stanford University academic who decides that he isn't doing enough to educate his students. The Professor is a star, regularly packing 200 students into lecture halls, and yet he begins to feel empty. What are 200 students in an age when billions of people around the world are connected to the Internet?

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6 Steps to Organizing a MOOC

Have you considered running a Massive Open Online Course or as it’s commonly called, a MOOC? I’ve been involved in MOOCs since 2007. I started with Muvenation, an 18-month MOOC for educators on how to create courses in Second Life. I then went on to join George Siemens and Stephen Downes for the Connectivism & Connective Knowledge or CCK08, the first official MOOC in the world.

I started organizing my own MOOCs in 2013 with the first Moodle MOOC in the world in June 2013 on WizIQ and the second one in October 2013. I also helped facilitate the first ELT Vocabulary MOOC led by Jason R. Levine with Sylvia Guinan on WizIQ. MOOCs are now organized by universities worldwide. The platforms may vary, but MOOCs are open to anyone who wants to learn for free.

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Developing countries and the MOOC learning revolution

Universities are being shaken up by a new mode of learning. The world’s elite institutions are opening up courses so thousands of people can learn for free via their laptops, mobiles or tablets. And these Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) have the potential to play a significant part in improving healthcare and even economic growth in developing countries.

MOOCs do not require qualifications to register and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. They are available to anyone with access to a computer and can be joined without the need for classrooms or lecture halls. All this makes them a potentially powerful tool for bringing higher education to developing countries.

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Developing countries and the MOOC learning revolution

Universities are being shaken up by a new mode of learning. The world’s elite institutions are opening up courses so thousands of people can learn for free via their laptops, mobiles or tablets. And these Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) have the potential to play a significant part in improving healthcare and even economic growth in developing countries.

MOOCs do not require qualifications to register and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. They are available to anyone with access to a computer and can be joined without the need for classrooms or lecture halls. All this makes them a potentially powerful tool for bringing higher education to developing countries.

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Results From the First-Year Course MOOCs: Not There Yet

MOOCs in the Coursera, Udacity, and edX form are tightly tied to CS. The leaders of the xMOOC movement came out of computer science, and most of the first generation of xMOOCs focused on teaching computer science. Many of the MOOC evaluations so far have been expert reviews. Our Learning Sciences and Technologies seminar at Georgia Tech's College of Computing just read Moti Ben-Ari's travelogue on his experiences in Coursera's and Udacity's introductory CS MOOC. The empirical results of the first rounds of MOOCs on intro courses are now in, so it's worth considering how they're doing.

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Mooc creators criticise courses’ lack of creativity

“Moocs today…are quite different from the ones that Stephen and I developed. Our goal was to encourage the development of learners through open and transparent learning, where the process of knowledge generation was iterative – improving on the ideas of other learners and generating new knowledge through continual…improvement. Most Moocs today are more didactic.”

Siemens adds that the pedagogy employed by the major providers is “several decades behind” what is needed.

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Let Them Eat MOOCs

One late afternoon last spring I received a visit from a former student and budding entrepreneur. I usually schedule these meetings at the end of the workday. It feels like a treat, witnessing aspiration and insight blend into leadership to create something new.

Luis (not his real name), however, had not come to see me for leadership advice. He had come to pitch his tech startup and ask for my involvement.

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An Early Report Card on Massive Open Online Courses

If the MOOC movement were in college, it would be time for a freshman report card. The assessment: great potential, but still in need of remedial work.

MOOCs, or massive open online courses, went mainstream last year, heralded as the next great technological disruption in education. The big idea is that putting lecture videos and interactive course work on the Web will make it possible for top-notch university education to reach more students and allow for different styles of learning.

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Free Massive Online Education Provider, Coursera, Begins To Find A Path To Profits

Online education providers may very well disrupt the higher-education establishment, but first, these for-profit companies need to find a way to finance the mammoth technical infrastructure needed to support millions of students. It’s a challenge that all mission-based businesses wrestle with, and why many have wondered whether Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) providers will ever become big business — or be around in five years — let alone “transform higher education,” as they’ve so often promised.

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The MOOC 'Revolution' May Not Be as Disruptive as Some Had Imagined

In California, the MOOC revolution came to a halt unceremoniously.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg, the leader of the State Senate, quietly decided to put his online-education bill on the back burner last month. The bill, introduced with fanfare in March, originally aimed to push public universities to award academic credit to students who succeeded in some massive open online courses offered by outside providers. But now that the universities have promised to expand their own online courses, the senator sees no immediate need to let outside providers through the door, says his spokesman, Rhys Williams.

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Why Do Students Enroll in (But Don’t Complete) MOOC Courses?

Less than 10 percent of MOOC students, on average, complete a course. That’s the conclusion of Katy Jordan of Open University, who published her analysis, pulled together from available data of some Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.

But do completion rates matter?

It’s not that course completion rates don’t inform observers about the nature of MOOCs, said Michelle Rhee-Weise, who follows higher-ed developments in online and blended learning as an education senior research fellow for the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation (formerly Innosight Institute). But with no negative academic consequences from dropping out, that information is less about the effectiveness of the courses themselves, and more about the reasons people might be enrolling, she said.

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MOOCs by the numbers: How do EdX, Coursera and Udacity stack up?

They're not the only players in the MOOC market, but whether because of high-profile founders, big funding or broad reach, they're the three biggest. So how do EdX, Coursera and Udacity stack up against each other?

None of the companies is public, so hard numbers can be difficult to come by. But here’s a snapshot of each, including a short summary of each player and where each stands by the numbers in terms of funding and course enrollment, along with key partnerships and big news (good and bad) this year.

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How I went back to college at age 44

It started on a whim. I happened to be reading an article that discussed the rising popularity of MOOCs (massive online open courses) and in particular, how a Stanford professor decided to try an experiment with his traditional brick-and-mortar classes (around 220 enrollees) versus his online class (approximately 160,000 students). Sebastian Thrun's course on artificial intelligence was offered to both of the two groups, and to most people's surprise, the online students ended up passing the class in record-breaking numbers. My curiosity was piqued: College courses, taught by prestigious professors, some from universities I could only dream of attending, offering their studies for anyone, and unbelievably, at zero cost! How could such a thing exist?

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What we can learn from the Udacity/San Jose MOOC debacle

As most people in ed-tech circles have heard by now, a much-touted MOOC experiment has ended in embarrassment.

In January, Udacity, a for-profit founded by Google and Stanford employee Sebastian Thrun to create customized online college-level video-based courses, announced that it would partner with San Jose State University to offer online versions of three of SJSU’s courses. This was a small pilot: The three courses, in remedial and entry-level math and statistics, would be open to just 100 students each, half already enrolled at SJSU and half coming from other nearby community colleges and charter schools, for college credit at a cost of $150. Students would be able to seek extra help online from live tutors, as well as from teachers or professors at their home institutions.

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MOOCs: When Opening Doors to Education, Institutions Must Ensure that People with Disabilities Have Equal Access

Massive Open Online Courses (“MOOCs”) are free online courses offered by institutions of higher education to individuals across the world, without any admissions criteria. Through web-based courses hosted by MOOC platforms such as Coursera or edX, student-participants learn by accessing media, including documents, pictures and uploaded lectures on the course website.

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How widely used are MOOC forums? A first look

We wondered if we could learn more about forum usage by looking at the data exports Coursera provides. We didn’t have access to the clickstream data that would tell us about forum views, but had access to data about posts, as well as other data, such as the grades students earned in the course.

Here are some initial exploratory results that we hope will encourage others to dig deeper.

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Udacity Project on 'Pause'

After six months of high-profile experimentation, San Jose State University plans to “pause” its work with Udacity, a company that promises to deliver low-cost, high-quality online education to the masses.

The decision will likely be seen as a setback for a unique partnership announced in January by California Gov. Jerry Brown in a 45-minute news conference with university officials and Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun.

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The Future of MOOCs according to Sir John Daniel, Tony Bates, Anant Agarwal & Sanjay Sarma

Earlier this week I watched a selection of the proceedings from The Learning International Networks Consortium’s (LINC) two-day conference held at MIT that hosted 300 participants from over fifty countries. The four scholars featured in the panel discussion collectively shared a breadth of experiences in open and distance higher education. The panel of four included Anant Agarwal, President of edX, Sir John Daniel, former Chancellor of the UK Open University, Tony Bates, Research Associate of Contact North, and Sanjay Sarma, Director of MITx.

Each shared his convictions on the direction higher education, but there was an intense focus if not preoccupation with xMOOCs. And because the conference was hosted by MIT, the discussion focused on the edX platform. However the scope expanded considerably with the participation of Sir John Daniel and Tony Bates. Both of these scholars have a depth of experience in open higher education that reaches outside of the United States in developed and developing nations.

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Moving beyond a binary view of MOOCs

In the ongoing buzz and backlash around MOOCs (massive open online courses) clogging higher education news these days, the narratives are hardening. Dialogue around change in higher education increasingly centres on the illusion of a simple divide: the business model of disruption vs. the status quo of college, idealized. One side heralds revolution and increased democratic access to education: a glorious future, largely defined in corporate terms. The other side, unswayed by business jargon, defends its historical territory by painting MOOCs as corporate behemoths of privatization and bad online pedagogy.

There’s truth on both sides. But taken up as the two poles of a binary horizon, these narratives stifle vision. They incline us to understand the big picture around MOOCs – and whatever follows MOOCs in the flavor of the month parade – as one of marketization vs. traditional institutional education, full-stop. That binary stands in the way of envisioning viable alternate futures for higher education.

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Open Classes, Closed Circles?: Cosmopolitanism In the Age of MOOCs

Below is my inteview with Ethan Zuckerman, the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection which makes a case for more cosmopolitanism and argues that we sometimes paradoxically use digital tools meant to open up the world instead to close ourselves off in the same old circles. He digs into some fascinating research to illustrate this tendency and gives some advice about how to counteract it. Though most of Rewire is about journalism and social media, we talked about how some of these ideas can be applied to MOOCs.

You can use the player to listen to the audio from our phone interview or, if you prefer, read the transcript.

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Beyond MOOC Hype

As scores of colleges rush to offer free online classes, the mania over massive open online courses may be slowing down. Even top proponents of MOOCs are acknowledging critical questions remain unanswered, and are urging further study.

Dan Greenstein, the head of postsecondary success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, now wonders aloud if MOOCs are a “viable thing or are just a passing fad.” Gates has agreed to spend $3 million for wide-reaching MOOC-related grants. But Greenstein said higher ed is suffering from “innovation exhaustion,” and MOOCs are part of the problem.

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A University's Offer of Credit for a MOOC Gets No Takers

It was big news last fall when Colorado State University-Global Campus became the first college in the United States to grant credit to students who passed a MOOC, or massive open online course.

For students, it meant a chance to get college credit on the cheap: $89, the cost of the required proctored exam, compared with the $1,050 that Colorado State charges for a comparable three-credit course.

That is a big discount.

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Neoliberalism and MOOCs: Amplifying nonsense

I’ve said this many times over the past six months: If 2012 was the year of the MOOC, 2013 will be the year of the anti-MOOC. Things are unfolding nicely according to plan. Faculty don’t like MOOCs. Critiquing MOOCs is now more fashionable than advocating for them. Numerous quasi-connected fields that thrive on being against things have now coalesced to be against MOOCs.

It’s great fun. I am very pleased to see substantial critiques of MOOCs. Every concept needs to be challenged, chewed on, evaluated, and understood from multiple angles. There are many reasons to not like MOOCs (including the elite university models, poor pedagogy, blindness to decades of learning sciences research, and its entire identity: just a very bad name). The faculty response to MOOCs is particularly important. Almost every major MOOC initiative over the past 18 months has developed without the inclusion of the faculty voice.

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How to prevent and eliminate plagiarism and cheating?

Isn’t cheating and plagiarism a huge concern in MOOCs? Yes, as highlighted by Siemens (p6) here and McEachern in MOOC post here.

Cheating and plagiarism is rather common in online education, and in particular MOOCs. Surprised?

One professor doesn’t want to give out the correct answer in MOOCs - in this post of “one-mooc-professor-wont-let-students-know-right-answers”. The intention might be to minimize cheating in MOOCs.

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On the MOOC Challenge to Traditional Higher Education

In a recent Minding the Campus essay, Benjamin Ginsberg, professor of political science at Johns Hopkins, worries about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Ginsberg is no softy about higher education. He has written a hard-hitting book on “administrative bloat,” the result of colleges and universities putting resources into management at the expense of instruction and research. But he is worried about MOOCs, which permit “one professor [to] lecture to tens or even hundreds of thousands of students with whom he or she has no interaction.”

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Will MOOCs help to democratise higher education?

The democratisation of higher education requires widening access to studies that lead to useful qualifications, and giving people more opportunities to select study programmes themselves and easily design their own courses from the rich pool of material freely available, Sir John Daniel told the “Worldviews 2013” conference last week. The question is whether massive open online course, or MOOCs, will help or hinder that process.

Sir John – former head of the Commonwealth of Learning and of the UK Open University, former assistant director general of education for UNESCO and current senior advisor to the Beijing DeTao Masters Academy – was delivering a keynote address at the conference held from 20-21 June at the University of Toronto.

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Fujitsu and MIT Announce First-of-its-kind Breakthrough Higher Education Learning Platform

At the Sixth Conference of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Learning International Networks Consortium (LINC), Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. and MIT have jointly announced a first-of-its-kind, revolutionary asynchronous, personalized learning platform – Guided Learning Pathways.

Guided Learning Pathways is a result of the companies’ joint research program focused on overcoming the challenges in traditional online learning systems, including finding appropriate learning materials and personalizing learning pathway of learners. Guided Learning Pathways is designed to address these critical problems for learners. As a result, two technologies have been developed and applied in the research. One is navigation technology, which can organize massive online learning materials into multi-layer topics. The other technology developed is the students’ learning behavior simulation based on an advanced probabilistic learner model. Fujitsu Laboratories of America and MIT will continuously research and develop Guided Learning Pathways, and apply it to the massive online learning systems for colleges and enterprises.

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MOOCs: Interesting Legal Territory Ahead

As massive open online courses (MOOCs) gain publicity and popularity, it's time to address the legal concerns affecting this trend in higher education.

MOOCs attract thousands of curious minds with free access to the world's brightest professors and the opportunity to explore any subject. Institutions benefit from being able to reach individuals who otherwise wouldn't have interest in their school, such as international students and full-time employees. Professors who want to expand their audience and experiment with new technology can do so with MOOCs.

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MOOCs: Interesting Legal Territory Ahead

As massive open online courses (MOOCs) gain publicity and popularity, it's time to address the legal concerns affecting this trend in higher education.

MOOCs attract thousands of curious minds with free access to the world's brightest professors and the opportunity to explore any subject. Institutions benefit from being able to reach individuals who otherwise wouldn't have interest in their school, such as international students and full-time employees. Professors who want to expand their audience and experiment with new technology can do so with MOOCs.

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Effective Habits of Power Users: A Look At Recent MOOC Research

Recently published research on student behavior in the first edX MOOC reveals some interesting insights about the persistence of certificate earners and about the time they put into the various course activities.

“Learning in the Worldwide Classroom: Research Into edX’s First MOOC” was produced by a group of MIT and Harvard researchers, led by Lori Breslow, director of MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory, and published in the summer 2013 issue of RPA Journal from Research & Practice in Assessment. The analysis looked at Circuits and Electronics (6.002x), taught in early 2012 by edX President Anant Agarwal to nearly 155,000 students, and they particularly focused on the 7,100 students who earned a certificate for passing the course.

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MOOCs and the Humanities

So, there’s a lot of fuss about online and “flexible” learning, MOOCs, and the like these days. My posts on Eric Mazur and Coursera have drawn a fair amount of traffic to this otherwise rather neglected and sporadically updated blog. Welcome, new readers.

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Online Education Will Be the Next 'Bubble' To Pop, Not Traditional University Learning

Speaking in Providence, RI not too long ago, the post-speech conversation turned to college education. The word was that Brown University’s tuition alone had risen above $50,000 per year.

The above number is staggering. For the most part college students tune out during their four years on campus; that, or they memorize what’s needed to get As on the tests. Why then would any parent pay the sky-high tuition, and then barring parental help, what 18-year old would take on that kind of debt in order to be the recipient of lots of largely useless information?

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Open Access to Public MOOCs

A couple of recent articles on the use of MOOCs (massive open online courses) in California colleges and universities raise an interesting ethical question -- one that hasn't attracted much attention, but certainly merits it. The issue I have in mind concerns the ownership and control of access to MOOCs produced at publicly funded universities.

The first article reports that one of the large California State University (CSU) campuses, San Jose State (SJSU), is now offering course credit to students taking three MOOCs: one in college algebra, one in developmental math, and one in elementary statistics. About half the students are SJSU students, while the others are high school students, military members, or community college students. To be precise, while students can take the courses for free, they can get college credit only if they pay the tuition.

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Why MOOCs Are Bad for Science Education

A college education today is ridiculously expensive, and tomorrow it will be even more so. Can the Internet change that? Some people are hoping it will. They argue that online courses, or more specifically, massively open online courses (MOOCs) will make “the best courses, from the best professors, and the best schools” available to the masses at a fraction of the cost of a brick-and-mortar education. MOOCs would solve the problem of a hefty college price tag while improving everyone’s educational experience to boot. But far from overturning the staid and overpriced traditional lecture model of education, MOOCs reinforce that model and conflict with recent research on how to teach technical subjects like science.

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The research that MOOCs need

Even though the concept of the Massive Open Online Course has become wildly popular during the last year, empirical research on these initiatives is largely absent.

On the one hand, this is not surprising. The fact that the research that exists in the literature falls under the case study approach is not surprising either. Historically, the research that characterizes emerging practices has been formative and focused on specific case studies (Dede, 1996). Research on connectivist MOOCs is available (e.g., see Fournier’s and Kop’s work), but research on other types of open courses is just slowly starting to emerge (e.g., see the work of the Lytics Lab and the research pertaining to P2PU). I hope and expect that a forthcoming special issue from JOLT focusing on MOOCs will add much needed insight.

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This is how MOOCs end…

I once had great aspirations to finish the Nutrition MOOC that I started a little while back. It was the beginning of summer for me and the amount of time I had seemed endless. It wasn’t. I wasn’t even going to do the assignments this time around. I just wanted to watch the video. Maybe I’ll get to the lecture on superfoods one of these days before the whole course goes bye-bye, but the page proofs for my refrigeration book arrived a few days ago so I have a lot of work to do.

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Extracurriculars: Do Massive Courses Make Digital Sharecropping More Efficient?

Ever since Colorado State University – Pueblo Professor Jonathan Rees brought up the term “digital sharecropping” in a Twitter response to my earlier discussion of peer assessment in MOOCs, I’ve been watching how student work is being used outside the MOOC. While the term digital sharecropping is relatively new, the practice of using students to do real work has been around for ages. So, it makes sense to illustrate the changing nature of employment and how MOOC students are engaging in work while in class.

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Week 5: A new classification for MOOCs by Gráinne Conole

This post argues that the current discourse around the concept of xMOOCs (primarily based around interaction with content and essentially adopting a behaviourist learning approach), and cMOOCs (which focus on harnessing the power of social media and interaction with peers, adopting a connectivist learning approach), is an inadequate way of describing the variety of MOOCs and the ways in which learners engage with them. It will introduce an alternative means of categorising MOOCs, based on their key characteristics. It will describe how this can be used as part of the 7Cs of Learning Design framework, to design more pedagogically informed MOOCs, which enhances the learner experience and ensure quality assurance.

A fundamental aspect of ensuring a good learner experience is the quality of the course. It is important to distinguish between three main aspects of quality: quality audit, quality assurance and quality enhancement.

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Retention and Intention in Massive Open Online Courses: In Depth

In 2012, the typical Coursera massive open online course (MOOC) enrolled between 40,000 and 60,000 students, of whom 50 to 60 percent returned for the first lecture. In classes with required programming or peer-graded assignments, around 15 to 20 percent of lecture-watchers submitted an assignment for grading. Of this group, approximately 45 percent successfully completed the course and earned a Statement of Accomplishment. In total, roughly 5 percent of students who signed up for a Coursera MOOC earned a credential signifying official completion of the course.

For educators used to thinking about student attrition in a traditional university setting, the "retention funnel" in a MOOC can cause considerable alarm. To a university professor accustomed to the traditional audience of committed, paying students in a brick-and-mortar classroom, the image of continuously-emptying lecture halls — where only one in every 20 students remains to the end — is an understandably frightening prospect. But is this really the appropriate framework for thinking about student success in MOOCs?

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The MOOC will soon die. Long live the MOOR

From my perspective, it went better than the first time, but this remains very much a research project, and will do for many more iterations. It is a research project with at least as many “Can we?” questions as “How do we?”

From the start, I took the viewpoint that, given the novelty of the MOOC platform, we need to examine the purpose, structure, and use of all the familiar educational elements: “lecture,” “quiz,” “assignment,” “discussion,” “grading,” “evaluation,” etc. All bets are off. Some changes to the way we use these elements might be minor, but on the other hand, some could be significant.

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Coursera Jumps the Shark

Remember when Coursera – the world’s largest purveyor of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – was going to disrupt higher education, and put hundreds if not thousands of public institutions out of business? I know it’s hard to cast your mind back all of eighteen months, but try.

Actually don’t. Because it’s all over. Yesterday, Coursera did a weird strategy about-face by announcing that, rather than competing with public colleges, it’s going to start competing with Blackboard instead.

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In Deals With 10 Public Universities, Coursera Bids for Role in Credit Courses

Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based provider of massive open online courses, announced on Thursday a series of deals with state universities that would place the young company squarely in the middle of the current upheaval in public higher education.

The company, which has made its name by working outside higher education's tuition-based credentialing system, announced partnerships with 10 public institutions that would extend well beyond providing support for new MOOCs.

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MOOC as Courseware: Coursera’s Big Announcement in Context

Today’s big news is that Coursera, the largest of the MOOC providers, has signed with 10 public statewide systems. One key aspect of this announcement is Coursera’s full-fledged move into courseware as a new business line to complement their standalone courses. Courseware is the combination of “the curriculum, the course materials, the assessments and, in some cases, the analytics to track student progress and make study suggestions” as described in Michael’s post “MOOCs, Courseware, and the Course as an Artifact“. In essence, courseware is everything but the instructor and interactive discussion, certification and support. This is what is meant by “wrapping” around a MOOC.

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How Coursera just scored 1.25 million new MOOC users

Silicon Valley is no stranger to the online education movement, thanks to Stanford-bred education technology companies like Coursera and Udacity, not to mention a host of other startups in the field.

On Thursday, Coursera announced that it has added 1.25 million potential users to its existing roster of 3.6 million students by inking a deal with 10 state university systems looking to experiment with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

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Companies Create MOOCs To Fill Skills Gaps

We don't know whether massive online open courses (MOOCs) will be more than a fad in higher education -- but they're inspiring other kinds of organizations to create MOOCs of their own.

Aquent, a staffing firm that links companies with contractors, is opening its own MOOC, the Aquent Gymnasium, in June. Aquent mainly serves marketing, creative and digital firms, which see frequent changes in staffing needs as new technologies such as mobile platforms emerge.

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The $7,000 Computer Science Degree — and the Future of Higher Education

While a new report puts the average debt load of new college grads at a stomach-churning $35,200, the Georgia Institute of Technology is rolling out an alternative program experts say offers a beacon of hope for both students and employers: A three-year master’s degree in computer science that can be earned entirely online — and that will cost less than $7,000.

The school is partnering with Udacity, a for-profit provider of MOOC (massive open online course) education, and AT&T, which is contributing $2 million and will provide connectivity tools and services. “We believe this program can establish corporate acceptance of high-quality and 100 percent online degrees as being on par with degrees received in traditional on-campus settings,” a statement from the school says.

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What Professors Can Learn From 'Hard Core' MOOC Students

If people who sit at their computers for tens of hours each week zapping virtual monsters are hard-core gamers, then massive open online courses have led to a similarly obsessed breed of online student: the hard-core learner.

Nearly 100 students using Coursera, the largest provider of MOOCs, have completed 20 or more courses. And more than 900 students have finished 10 or more courses, according to the company. That means taking several courses at a time, and racing through as many lecture videos and robot-graded assignments as possible to collect certificates that carry no official credit.

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Defining Edu Terms & MOOC Simulacra

At the heart of the Open Education Resources movement (and the Open movement in general) is the notion that education is a public good. The progression to such sentiment may be based in a notion that an educated citizenry betters democracy and civic life (folks like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson), or that knowledge and wisdom are non-rivalrous and non-excludable (Econ 101), or that the increase and diffusion of knowledge stimulates societal and cultural growth (James Smithson, John Quincy Adams). Regardless of its germination, the crux of such thought is that the provision of education from an egalitarian lens results in benefit across the population.

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Adoption of Massive Open Online Courses [Worldwide Survey]

Is higher education widening the gap between the rich and the poor? A 2011 survey indicated that 35 percent college admission directors are increasing their efforts to find "full pay" students instead of low-income students. Given the rise of tuitions, can technology like massively open online courses (MOOCs) reduce tuition costs and make education more affordable? Many argue the answer is yes.

Some in fact argue that fighting online courses is like fighting gravity. In a recent post in The Atlantic, titled "College Is Going Online, Whether We Like It Or Not," is was said that this digital disruption is unstoppable. Student debt continues to rise, passing $1.1 trillion dollars in 2013 with 2 out of 3 students graduating with debt. In fact the student debt has doubled since 2007 and not slowing down. Online courses have been available since 1990s - like the University of Phoenix - but new companies like Udacity and Coursera are delivering online courses with new models that range from free to extremely affordable online curriculum. But not all educators are in favor of these new models of delivering courses to a massive audience in an affordable model.

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Is a MOOC a Textbook or a Course?

For instance, what constitutes a course? A particular body of knowledge to be delivered? Except maybe in the case of skill-based classes, like a writer's workshop. A start and end date? Except maybe in the case of self-paced, on-demand online courses. Interactions between students and instructors? Except maybe in the case of entirely computer-mediated courses or older correspondence courses. Certification or recognition of completion? Except in courses that don't offer them. A learning experience? That must be too broad, or sitting here reading this post would constitute a course.

If we can't even define exactly what a course is, how can we possibly hope to provide a clear sense of what constitutes a Massive Open Online Course?

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A Professor Walks Into a MOOC...

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are garnering lots of attention these days. Some see large-scale, web-based classes as the new frontier for colleges and universities, a great leap forward that could revolutionize higher education. Duke University professor of psychology and behavioral economics Dan Ariely and his colleagues at the Center for Advanced Hindsight, on the other hand, see MOOCs as the perfect way to test Dan's academic funny bone. Will the jokes that work in a traditional college classroom work in a class of say, several thousand online students?

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MOOCs aren’t the only kind of online course stirring debate on college campuses

Over the past couple of months, massive open online course (MOOC) providers have been the focus of dissension on some college campuses. But now online learning company 2U is getting some pushback of its own.

Last fall, the company, which has partnered with several leading universities for online masters degree programs that feature small classes and live instruction, announced a new for-credit online program for undergraduates called Semester Online. But three of the 10 schools that had originally committed to the program have since backed out.

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College Is Going Online, Whether We Like It Or Not

The United States has a problem: rapidly rising student debt. It also has a solution: online education. The primary reason for spiraling student debt is the soaring costs of a college education at a physical college. Online education strips away all of those expenses except for the cost of the professor's time and experience. It sounds perfect, an alignment of technology, social need and limited resources. So why do so many people believe that it is a deeply flawed solution?

Because it means massive swaths of higher education is about to change. Technology has disrupted many industries; now it's about to do the same to higher ed.

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The MOOC Moment and the End of Reform

The MOOC phenomenon has happened very quickly, to put it mildly. Last November, the New York Times declared 2012 to be “the Year of the MOOC,” and while it feels (at least to me) like we’ve been talking about MOOCs for years now, the speed by which the MOOC has become the future of higher education is worth thinking carefully about, both because it’s an important way to frame what is happening, and because that speed warps the narrative we are able to tell about what is happening. Coursera, Udacity, and edX are all less than a year old, and while the first two—which are silicon valley startups out of Stanford, essentially—have already enrolled millions of students, the non-profit consortium edX has grown just as prodigiously. Beginning as a partnership between Harvard and MIT, it now includes a dozen different universities, and that number will surely grow.

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The Quality of Massive Open Online Courses

In this contribution I address the question of assessing the quality of massive open online courses. The assessment of the quality of anything is fraught with difficulties, depending as it does on some commonly understood account of what would count as a good example of the thing, what factors constitute success, and how that success against that standard is to be measured. With massive open online courses, it is doubly more difficult, because of the lack of a common definition of the MOOC itself, and because of the implication of external factors in the actual perception and performance of the MOOC.

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Massive (But Not Open)

The Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a $7,000 online master’s degree to 10,000 new students over the next three years without hiring much more than a handful of new instructors.

Georgia Tech will work with AT&T and Udacity, the 15-month-old Silicon Valley-based company, to offer a new online master’s degree in computer science to students across the world at a sixth of the price of its current degree. The deal, announced Tuesday, is portrayed as a revolutionary attempt by a respected university, an education technology startup and a major corporate employer to drive down costs and expand higher education capacity.

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Massive (But Not Open)

The Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a $7,000 online master’s degree to 10,000 new students over the next three years without hiring much more than a handful of new instructors.

Georgia Tech will work with AT&T and Udacity, the 15-month-old Silicon Valley-based company, to offer a new online master’s degree in computer science to students across the world at a sixth of the price of its current degree. The deal, announced Tuesday, is portrayed as a revolutionary attempt by a respected university, an education technology startup and a major corporate employer to drive down costs and expand higher education capacity.

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Giving As You’d Like To Receive – How to Benefit from MOOC Peer-Assessment

The two excerpts above are from an ongoing exchange in a public forum in a MOOC I took this spring. The quoted thread continued in this heated way for weeks with the the first student’s posts became increasingly defensive in response to the increasingly hurtful comments typed by an anonymous reviewer. Even worse, the community used the vote mechanism in the forum to down-vote the first student’s legitimate (albeit vindictive) concern about the grading system and to up-vote the sarcastic harassment.

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CUCFA President Meister's Open Letter to Coursera Founder Daphne Koller

Dear Professor Koller,

Because I share your vision of creating a world in which all have access to an excellent and empowering education, I would like to propose a new online course for you to make freely available through the Coursera platform. Its title is “The Implications of Coursera’s For-Profit Business Model for Global Public Education.”

The goal of the course will be for the students enrolled in it to understand the real relation between Coursera’s visionary mission—“to offer courses, in partnership with the worlds’ top universities, to everyone for free”—and the logic of the strategic business plan that led Coursera to be named “The Best Startup of 2012” by TechCrunch last January.

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Massive MOOC Grading Problem – Stanford HCI Group Tackles Peer Assessment

Six weeks into Coursera’s Passion Driven Statistics course from Wesleyan University, students received a notice that they would participate in a new kind of peer-based grading exercise for their final projects. While nothing has been said publicly about the experiment until now, this marks a radical departure from the usual quiz-based examinations provided by MOOCs.

What is different about this approach, and why is it worth watching even in its first commercial implementations? In this column I will explore the process they are testing and examine the potential for peer assessments to change how MOOCs are used. If you are thinking about what course to take next, check to see if you too can be involved in peer assessments.

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Redefining MOOC

If you haven’t read Audrey Watters’ coverage of the Coursera / Chegg deal, I highly recommend it. The short version is, DRM’ed commercial content is making its way into MOOCs, and this stands to make all involved – including the professors – quite wealthy.

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'The MOOC Moment': New Compilation of Articles Available

Inside Higher Ed is today releasing a free compilation of articles -- in print-on-demand format -- about massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The articles aren't today's breaking news, but reflect long-term trends and some of the forward-looking thinking of experts on how MOOCs may change higher education. The idea is to provide these materials (both news articles and opinion essays) in one easy-to-read place. Inside Higher Ed will be releasing more such compilations in the months ahead, on a range of topics.

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Coursera, Chegg, and the Education Enclosure Movement

The online learning startup Coursera and a handful of textbook publishers announced today that they’re teaming up to make certain digital course materials available to students enrolled in Coursera’s classes. Cengage Learning, Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, SAGE, and Wiley will offer versions of their textbooks via an e-reader provided by Chegg.

For certain courses, students will be able to access all or parts of textbooks for free. The materials are restricted by DRM: students will not be able to copy-paste or print, and access to the textbooks will be revoked when the course ends. As the press release reads, of course, “students will also be able to purchase full versions of e-textbooks provided by publishers for continued personal learning.”

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MOOCs and Remediation

Bonnie Stewart’s post yesterday triggered some reflections on the ways that MOOCs could actually be useful in remediation. I’m not sure if she would agree with where I’m taking this, but a good thought is a good thought.

Remedial classes, by and large, are subject to the same semester and financial aid regulations as credit-bearing classes. That’s true even though, with rare exceptions, remedial classes don’t transfer. And it makes sense that they don’t. They don’t count towards graduation, for one thing, and the whole point of them is to get students ready for college level work. Students are “supposed” to get ready for college level work in high school, so there’s already ample precedent for recognizing instruction done outside a college setting. Colleges have no exclusive claim to the subject matter; if anything, they’re somewhat defensive about including the subject matter at all.

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MOOCs, shared governance and academic freedom

If you haven’t read the letter from the San Jose State (SJSU) Philosophy Department to Harvard’s Michael Sandel about his “Justice” MOOC through MIT and Harvard’s edX program, you really should. I think it might become a classic document in the history of the long, slow decline of American Higher Education. For one thing, it’s interesting because it may be the first sharp published criticism of someone who’s decided to teach a MOOC. [I've written about that here.] But it’s also the first serious public attention that I’ve seen given to what I’ve called the academic freedom crisis of the twenty-first century.

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What MOOCs Can Offer Social Entrepreneurs

When Rajan Kumar signed up to take "Foundations of Business Strategy" on Coursera last month, he never expected to get feedback on his own company’s business operations. But within a few weeks, the biotechnology entrepreneur had recruited a team of 20 students to analyze Genome Data Systems, Inc.

"When I signed up for this course, I had no expectation of having people analyze my company", Kumar said. Still, working with a diverse range of students—from complete novices to experienced business professionals—led Kumar to realize the merits of developing a diagnostic instrument instead of pursuing a service-based business model. Their research, in turn, helped him develop a business case and present the new approach to investors. In a thank-you note to students, he wrote: "Your discussion helped me sharpen my arguments and made me challenge my assumptions".

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The MOOC Wars

I admit it, I'm slow on the uptake, but I had a lightbulb moment David Kernohan pointed me at Donald Clark's post on MOOCs "More action in 1 year than 1000" (no hype there then). As Brian Lamb has reported a wikipedia edit battle around MOOCs to remove the early MOOCers such as David Wiley and George Siemens from the picture has also taken place. Initially I thought this was just a bit of ignorance, but Clark's post made me understand - it is part of a wider narrative to portray MOOCs as a commercial solution that is sweeping away the complacency of higher education.

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Massive online courses draw more backlash from college professors

San Jose State University, one of the biggest academic supporters of the growing MOOC (massive open online course) movement, apparently has some vocal dissenters in its ranks.

In the past year, the university has welcomed MOOC providers like edX and Udacity with open arms — in addition to launching a first-of-its kind program with Udacity to award college credit for courses taken on its platform. The school has a growing partnership with edX and plans to create a dedicated resource center for California State University faculty statewide who are interested in online content.

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Why Professors at San Jose State Won't Use a Harvard Professor's MOOC

Professors in the philosophy department at San Jose State University are refusing to teach a philosophy course developed by edX, saying they do not want to enable what they see as a push to "replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities."

The San Jose State professors also called out Michael Sandel, the Harvard government professor who developed the course for edX, suggesting that professors who develop MOOCs are complicit in how public universities might use them.

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Self-Directed Learning: The Core of Successful MOOC Participation

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have gained extreme momentum since they appeared in higher education. Although many universities, vendors, and students have joined the MOOC bandwagon, we remain in the early stages of MOOCs; we’re unsure of their long-term role, and some thought leaders question if MOOCs will successfully disrupt higher education.

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The MOOC bubble and the attack on public education

In the last year, MOOCs have gotten a tremendous amount of publicity. Last November, the New York Times decided that 2012 was “the Year of the MOOC,” and columnists like David Brooks and Thomas Friedman have proclaimed ad nauseum that the MOOC “revolution” is a “tsunami” that will soon transform higher education. As a Time cover article on MOOCs put it—in a rhetorical flourish that has become a truly dead cliché—“College is Dead. Long Live College!”

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MOOCs for Teachers: Coursera Offers Online Teacher Training Program

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, have forced universities to reconsider their value in light of free high-quality education available online. Coursera, a private company founded by two Stanford professors has been at the forefront of that movement, actively courting new institutions of higher education to their portfolio and trying to monetize the effort by certifying courses for college credit. Now they’re expanding that model to K-12 teacher professional development.

The courses will be free to teachers, and for those who want a verified certificate, there will be a $50 fee. Coursera will verify that the teacher actually completed the course and participated fully along the way.

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Why Some Colleges Are Saying No to MOOC Deals, at Least for Now

Amherst College, known for its selectivity, is accustomed to sending rejection notices. But when the liberal-arts beacon this month turned down an invitation to join the exclusive partnership of colleges offering massive open online courses through edX, it nonetheless drew surprise from many corners of academe.

Colleges have clamored to be part of the high-profile consortiums run by edX, a Cambridge-based nonprofit, and Coursera, a Bay Area start-up—often with little input from faculty members. The pace of adoption has shocked even the founders of the MOOC platforms, who are veterans of a higher-education sector notorious for its tortoiselike reflexes.

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Students Avoid ‘Difficult’ Online Courses, Study Finds

Many students stay away from online courses in subjects they deem especially difficult or interesting, according to a study released this month by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The finding comes just as many highly selective colleges are embracing online learning and as massive open online courses are gaining popularity and standing.

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What is a MOOC?

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is an online course aiming at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants.

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MOOCs: Who’s using MOOCs? 10 different target audiences

Fascinating graphic,a sit shows that nearly 42% of the target audience for MOOCs are not the developed world. It also raises an interesting question. Who is it for?’ are four words that tease out a MOOC strategy or lack of strategy. For most it is a marketing exercise in terms of the brand, a way of reducing internal costs on high volume courses, a way of recruiting potential students (directly or through their parents). Yet others see it as a way of flushing out funding from Alumni or presenting an ‘accessible’ face to Government.

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MOOCs: a breath of fresh air, albeit the same air

A Secretary of State for Education in the US likened Education to a giant blob. No matter what you did to to change the blob, it always healed up or reformed back into its original shape. Are MOOCs puncturing or reshaping the blob? Or are they just orbiting the blob?

Forces from the outside world, namely technology and hard economics are putting pressure on the blob and MOOCs are, potentially, blob busters. Their potency comes from the fact that they’ve burst open the limitations of old teaching methods and reach out with alternatives that are part of the more general open culture of the web.

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Why c and x MOOCs are attracting different number of participants?

Why are xMOOCs attracting tens or hundred thousands of students?

Thanks to Ana and Steve for their comments and conversation.

Here are my reflections on why some moocs attracted hundreds, tens of thousands of learners (xMOOCs), whilst others attracted a few hundreds or a few thousands of learners (cMOOCs).

In summary, the key reasons include: 1. branding and affiliation with elite institutions and professors, 2. well established courses with rich support on resources and assessment (grading/peer assessment), 3. granting of certificates of achievement or statements of attainment (in recognition), 4. degrees of difficulties – xMOOCs are much easier compared to cMOOCs, 5. perceptions of learners – xMOOCs are based on 1,2,3 above, and 4 – learners – cMOOCs would have to curate resources and create blog posts/join forums, 6. pedagogy, 7. assessment.

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Who’s afraid of a MOOC?: on being education-y and course-ish

On Thursday, 22 March, the then-Tertiary Education Minister of Australia, Chris Bowen, registered for my new, up-coming MOOC (that’s a Massive Online Open Classroom, if you’ve somehow managed to miss it). Apparently, he’ll be taking the course, ‘Becoming human: Anthropology,’ an introduction to human evolution. By the next morning, Bowen had resigned from the Prime Minister’s cabinet and moved to the government back bench, stepping down from his post overseeing tertiary education.

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EdX Rejected

After months of wooing and under close scrutiny, edX was rejected this week by Amherst College amid faculty concerns about the online course provider's business plans and impact on student learning.

Amherst professors voted on Tuesday not to work with edX, a nonprofit venture started by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to provide massive open online courses, or MOOCs. In interviews, professors cited a wide range of reasons for rejecting edX -- which currently works with only 12 elite partner colleges and universities -- starting with edX's incompatibility with Amherst’s mission and ending with, to some, the destruction of higher education as we know it.

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How was it? The UK’s first Coursera Moocs assessed

In January, the University of Edinburgh became the first UK university to offer massive open online courses on one of the big US Mooc platforms, Coursera.

Its six courses - covering artificial intelligence, astrobiology, critical thinking, e-learning and digital cultures, philosophy, and equine nutrition - attracted 308,000 students, with Introduction to Philosophy the most popular, drawing almost 100,000 participants.

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The Underpinnings of the Industry-Wide MOOC

Somewhere, a classroom of caffeine-addled employees is being subjugated to the final day of a week-long corporate training session or workshop.

Another day, another set of case studies, corporate videos and team-building events, followed by an instructor-goaded reflection or maybe an online quiz. It could be new hire training, a skills development course or a corporate initiative run amok. These captive “students” are paid regular salary to sit there, which is the foundation of their perfect attendance.

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How was it? The UK’s first Coursera Moocs assessed

In January, the University of Edinburgh became the first UK university to offer massive open online courses on one of the big US Mooc platforms, Coursera.

Its six courses - covering artificial intelligence, astrobiology, critical thinking, e-learning and digital cultures, philosophy, and equine nutrition - attracted 308,000 students, with Introduction to Philosophy the most popular, drawing almost 100,000 participants.

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A Short History of MOOCs and Distance Learning Read more: http://moocnewsandreviews.com/a-short-history-of-moocs-and-distance-learning/#ixzz2r9xxowky Follow us: @MOOCNewsReviews on Twitter

Since MOOCs have started to multiply on the web, many discussions about their structure, effectiveness and openness have been appearing. Students, teachers, e-learning specialists, academics, the media: everyone has an opinion.

However, not much commentary looks at the history of MOOCs with an approach to understanding why so many universities are creating them and massive numbers of students are joining them. A short history of distance learning and may explain much about the sudden popularity of MOOCs.

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MOOCs: taxonomy of 8 types of MOOC

"The future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed" said William Gibson, that is certainly true of MOOCs. We have MOOC mania but "all MOOCs are not created equal" and there's lots of species of MOOC. This is good and we must learn from these experiments to move forward and not get bogged down in old traditionalist v modernist arguments. MOOCs will inform and shape what we do within and without institutions. What is important is to focus on the real needs of real learners.

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California Universities Aggressively Expand Online Courses, Finds Failure Rates Drop

The largest university system in America is aggressively expanding its experimental foray into Massive Online Open Learning (MOOCs), based on an unusually promising pilot course. The California State University system will offer a special “flipped” version of an electrical engineering course at 11 more universities, where students watch online lectures from Harvard and MIT at home, while class time is devoted to hands-on problem solving. A San Jose State University pilot found that the flipped class increased pass rates a whopping 46%, which university President Mohammad Qayoumi believes is enough to move full-steam ahead.

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MOOCs and Megatrends: A Prediction Comes True

In his 1982 blockbuster book “Megatrends,” John Naisbitt predicted that California would become one of the bellwether states for major trends in the future of the United States.

He was right.

California has emerged as the state that has turned higher education on its ear. The development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has created what Stanford University President John Hennessy called a “tsunami” in education.

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SJSU/EdX Adds More Campuses, Courses

housands more California State University students will benefit from a major expansion to the collaboration between San Jose State University and edX, the not-for-profit online learning enterprise founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SJSU and edX detailed this announcement at a news conference April 10. View the video.

An online engineering course in circuits and electronics — created by MIT as an MITx course for the edX platform and offered to San Jose State students for the first time last fall — will be made available to as many as 11 other CSU campuses. The expansion will benefit thousands of students from nearly half of Cal State’s 23 campuses.

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Coursera Takes a Nuanced View of MOOC Dropout Rates

Massive open online courses have gained renown among academics for their impressive enrollment figures and, conversely, their unimpressive completion rates.

What accounts for the high attrition in MOOCs, and what does it mean? Coursera and data researchers at several partner universities of the MOOC provider have begun trying to answer those questions by learning more about why students wash out of MOOCs, and what instructors and course designers could do to stem the tide.

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MOOCs Will Come and Mostly Go Like Other EduTech Fads

MOOCs – massively open online courses – are the latest hit in educational technologies. MIT and Harvard have partnered on EdX, and Stanford computer-science professors have kicked off Coursera and Udacity. Meanwhile, Bill Gates and others fawn over the Khan Academy. University of Virginia president, Teresa Sullivan, was even temporarily ousted because she was not perceived by her board of trustees as moving quickly enough to start UVA’s own MOOC-like offering.

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Free to Profit

Coursera, the increasingly popular provider of free online courses, is beginning to make money.

The Silicon Valley-based company brought in $220,000 in the first quarter after it started charging for verified completion certificates, its co-founders said. The company also receives revenue from an Amazon.com affiliates program if users buy books suggested by professors.

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Essay-Grading Software Offers Professors a Break

Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the “send” button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program.

And then, instead of being done with that exam, imagine that the system would immediately let you rewrite the test to try to improve your grade.

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MOOC Completion Rates: The Data

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have the potential to enable free university-level education on an enormous scale. A concern often raised about MOOCs is that although thousands enrol for courses, a very small proportion actually complete the course. The release of information about enrollment and completion rates from MOOCs appears to be ad hoc at the moment - that is, official statistics are not published for every course. This data visualisation draws together information about enrollment numbers and completion rates from across online news stories and blogs

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Insight on MOOC student types from ELI Focus Session

Michael and I had the privilege of leading off the ELI Online Spring Focus Session on MOOCs (taking place today, Apr 3, and tomorrow). Thanks to Stephen Downes, we have a good set of notes on our presentation “Everything You Thought You Knew About MOOCs Could Be Wrong” (program & resources, notes) as well as the other sessions already on each of the sessions on his blog. You know, I think he actually believes this stuff about learner-generated content and self-forming communities... In all seriousness, this is a great session by ELI, great notes by Stephen, and it’s instructive to see the various channels such as chat, Twitter, Google+, and blogs tied to the session (most using #elifocus).

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Everything you think you know about MOOCs could be wrong

There are four things that we think we know about MOOCs: They are "massive," they are "open," they are "online," and they are "courses." But what happens if we start playing with those "truths"? How massive do MOOCs need to be? How open? Do they need to be fully online? Do they even need to be courses? As institutions determine whether and how to incorporate new online models into their repertoire, Phil Hill and Michael Feldstein will explore the boundaries of the current definition of the MOOC and discuss how it is likely to evolve in the next 12-24 months.

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MOOC Manifesto

MOOCs are one of the hot topics in e-learning and Higher Education at the moment. The number of institutions designing their own MOOCs is growing exponentially and, thus, collective, academic reflection upon this new meme is required to guarantee we understand each other and we agree on some key issues concerning MOOCs.

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The dirty little secret of online learning: Students are bored and dropping out

Online education has been around for a long time. But massive open online courses are finally making it respectable. Maybe even cool. Let’s not forget, though, that they are still experiments. And despite being “massively overhyped” (even in the eyes of their most dyed-in-the-wool supporters), they are not actually having a massive impact on students yet. So let’s review what we’ve learned so far. Because if online education is going to be useful for learners, then it’s time for online learning to grow up.

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The Professors Who Make the MOOCs

What is it like to teach 10,000 or more students at once, and does it really work? The largest-ever survey of professors who have taught MOOCs, or massive open online courses, shows that the process is time-consuming, but, according to the instructors, often successful. Nearly half of the professors felt their online courses were as rigorous academically as the versions they taught in the classroom.

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The realities of MOOCS

Two weeks ago we launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in association with the University of San Diego (USD). Based on "Sustainability in the Supply Chain", the six-week course is aimed at managers working in supply chain positions around the world. For those unfamiliar with the MOOC terminology, this sort of course operates at scale and is open to anyone who wishes to join.

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In the Developing World, MOOCs Start to Get Real

As online education platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity burst onto the scene over the past year, backers have talked up their potential to democratize higher education in the countries that have had the least access (see “The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years”). These ambitions are now moving closer to reality, as more people begin to experiment with their setup, although significant challenges remain.

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Are We MOOC'd Out?

MOOCs (massive open online courses) have been around a few years. My company, Udemy, has been around since 2010. However, it wasn't until 2012 that MOOCs became the so-called next big thing.

Last November, The New York Times declared 2012 "The Year of the MOOC." And with that pronouncement came a pronounced backlash. Well, maybe "backlash" is too strong a word, but there is no doubt that once the hype cycle reached its zenith late last year, the rising chorus of voices declaring they are over MOOCs seemed to just keep getting louder.

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Massive Open Online Courses, aka MOOCs, Transform Higher Education and Science

When campus president Wallace Loh walked into Juan Uriagereka's office last August, he got right to the point. “We need courses for this thing — yesterday!”

Uriagereka, associate provost for faculty affairs at the University of Maryland in College Park, knew exactly what his boss meant. Campus administrators around the world had been buzzing for months about massive open online courses, or MOOCs: Internet-based teaching programs designed to handle thousands of students simultaneously, in part using the tactics of social-networking websites. To supplement video lectures, much of the learning comes from online comments, questions and discussions. Participants even mark one another's tests.

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Emerging Student Patterns in MOOCs: A (Revised) Graphical View

In part 1 of this series of posts on MOOC student patterns, I shared an initial description of four student patterns emerging from Coursera-style MOOCs based on new data from professors. In part 2, I revised the description based on some feedback and added a graphical view. The excellent feedback has continued, primarily through comments to both posts mentioned above as well as a separate Google+ discussion. This process has helped identify a fifth pattern, clarify the pattern description, and improve the associated graphic. In particular, I want to thank Debbie Morrison, Colin Milligan, John Whitmer, Charles Severance and Kevin Kelly – as well as other commenters for the great discussion.

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Business opportunities around MOOC

MOOC (massive open online courses) become popular more and more. Lots of people are involved in a discussion about MOOC. E-Learning portals publish news and press releases related to MOOC every day. Millions of students learn courses and leave their feedback. One of most popular discussions related to MOOCs is about if is this possible MOOCs replace traditional higher education.

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The Role of MOOCs in Online Education

Over the past few years, Americans have embraced free online courses, a trend that the entire world now seems to be following. MOOC undoubtedly remains the most important and talked-about trend in education history. It is responsible for the change as well as the continuous growth of online education. The key features of Massive Open Online Courses mainly revolve around large-scale participation and online access.

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The Four Student Archetypes Emerging in MOOCs

As discussed in my last post, the focus on “completion rates” in MOOCs is somewhat misplaced, as open education is not simply an extension of traditional education. As several others have noted, not every student is attempting to complete a course, and in fact different students have different goals while participating in the same open course. This holds true for both cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

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MOOCs – The Opium of the Masses

"MOOCs are the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. They are the opium of the people. The abolition of MOOCs as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness."

(Modification of Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right)

Replacing "Religion" with MOOC in the quote above should give a pretty clear indication of where this post is heading. There is a confluence of circumstances at play in the United States right now, culminating with the President’s recent State of the Union call to reduce the cost of higher education, that is sending one of our most important and progressive social institutions on a crash course directly back to the Industrial Age, mass-production model that we have struggled to escape for so long. The cost in progress of lowering what society pays for higher education could be a devastating blow that accelerates our fall from atop the global power structure. MOOCs are a symptom of a larger problem, but perfectly exemplify what is wrong with the focus of our discussions on college affordability. We seek to blindly lower costs, placing that burden on the institutions themselves rather than on a society that should be embracing higher education and calling for more expenditure on learning, rather than less.

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How EdX Plans to Earn, and Share, Revenue From Its Free Online Courses

How can a nonprofit organization that gives away courses bring in enough revenue to at least cover its costs?

That's the dilemma facing edX, a project led by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is bringing in a growing number of high-profile university partners to offer massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

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Research Questions About MOOCs

"Will MOOCs destroy academia?" asked Moshe Vardi last November in CACM. The next month, CACM published an article about how MOOCs were disrupting education. Moody's Investor Services predicts that small institutions could be "damaged" by MOOCs. Thomas Friedman suggests that MOOCs are a "revolution" that will change higher education. I call the threat of MOOCs destroying the university the "MOOCopalypse."

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Beyond the Buzz, Where Are MOOCs Really Going?

Everyone’s going MOOC-crazy these days. From frequent media coverage of online courses and platforms like Coursera, edX, Udacity, and Udemy to discussions about the complexities and business models of online education, the excitement around MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) has finally “bubbled” over.

The question is not just whether MOOCs are going to disrupt traditional education, but how. Is it just about lower costs and access? Is it really going to be a Napster-like moment with entrenched “Teamsters in tweed” worried about the erosion of their research, publishing, and teaching?

This is where we can leave the realm of hype and commentary to draw on our own years of research into disruption theory. Because the curious thing about the MOOC wave of disruption is that the market leaders — not just upstarts from the edges — are the ones pioneering it. And that rarely happens.

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Professor Leaves a MOOC in Mid-Course in Dispute Over Teaching

Students regularly drop out of massive open online courses before they come to term. For a professor to drop out is less common.

But that is what happened on Saturday in "Microeconomics for Managers", a MOOC offered by the University of California at Irvine through Coursera. Richard A. McKenzie, an emeritus professor of enterprise and society at the university’s business school, sent a note to his students announcing that he would no longer be teaching the course, which was about to enter its fifth week.

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Curbing The Cost Of College: Coursera Wins Approval To Offer Online Courses For Credit For Under $200

Last year, the buzz around the potential of online courses (particularly MOOC platforms) reached new heights, and this year is already shaping up to be the one in which online course platforms and the startups that love them, make their big push for legitimacy. To wit: The year kicked off with the news that the largest university system in the world has partnered with Udacity to pilot low-cost, lower-division and remedial classes — online and, importantly, for credit — within the California State University system.

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Online Class on How To Teach Online Classes Goes Laughably Awry

In the span of a week, an online course on how to teach online courses turned into a master class in how not to.

A class called "Fundamentals of Online Learning: Planning and Application," taught by Fatima Wirth of Georgia Tech, launched on the online higher-education platform Coursera on Jan. 28 with some 40,000 students signed up. Within days, many of those students—including some who are educators themselves—were taking to Twitter and blogs to complain that the class was unraveling. On Feb. 2, Wirth wrote students to notify them that she was suspending the class "in order to make improvements."

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Swimming in a Sea of MOOCs

As a self-proclaimed lifelong learner and a more-than-casually-interested observer of new developments in education technology, I have in the past year eagerly signed up for three variations of a “meta-MOOC”. That is, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about MOOCs, a MOOC about online learning, and a MOOC about open educational resources. I am now a three-time MOOC dropout. But that’s another story.

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Georgia Tech and Coursera Try to Recover From MOOC Stumble

When Fatimah Wirth decided to teach a massive open online course about how to run a virtual classroom successfully, she did not expect it to turn into a case study for the opposite.

But after a series of design flaws and technical glitches turned Ms. Wirth's MOOC, "Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application", into an Internet punch line, the instructional designer and her colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology decided on Saturday to suspend the course.

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The MOOC Model: Challenging Traditional Education

MOOCs represent the latest stage in the evolution of open educational resources. First was open access to course content, and then access to free online courses. Accredited institutions are now accepting MOOCs as well as free courses and experiential learning as partial credit toward a degree. The next disruptor will likely mark a tipping point: an entirely free online curriculum leading to a degree from an accredited institution. With this new business model, students might still have to pay to certify their credentials, but not for the process leading to their acquisition. If free access to a degree-granting curriculum were to occur, the business model of higher education would dramatically and irreversibly change. As Nathan Harden ominously noted, "recent history shows us that the internet is a great destroyer of any traditional business that relies on the sale of information.

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MOOC Student Demographics

I report on survey responses from 2,350 students who enrolled in a Massive Online Open Class (MOOC) titled “Computational Investing, Part I” via coursera.org in Fall 2012. The responses represent 41% of the students who completed the course and 2.6% of those who initially enrolled but did not complete it.

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Revolution Hits the Universities

LORD knows there’s a lot of bad news in the world today to get you down, but there is one big thing happening that leaves me incredibly hopeful about the future, and that is the budding revolution in global online higher education. Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems. And nothing has more potential to enable us to reimagine higher education than the massive open online course, or MOOC, platforms that are being developed by the likes of Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and companies like Coursera and Udacity.

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Learning From MOOCs

Educators create online courses for the same reasons that they became teachers to begin with: to educate students, broaden their awareness of the world and thereby improve the students’ lives. And with massive open online courses (MOOCs), educators can now reach many more students at a time. But MOOCs offer many other benefits to the education community, including providing valuable lessons to the instructors who teach them.

Online courses inherently allow students to create their own pathways through the material, which forces educators to think about the content in new ways. And MOOCs offer professors fresh opportunities to observe how their peers teach, learn from one another’s successes and failures and swap tactics to keep students engaged. This is, in turn, makes them better teachers.

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MOOCs Are Your Friends

(I know what you're thinking: "if only someone would write an opinion blog post on MOOCs, there just aren't any out there").

Reactions to MOOCs tend to fall into two camps. The first is the MOOC will conquer all group who see them as saviours of learning and destroyers of universities. See Clay Shirky's MP3 analogy for an example (and also David Kernohan's excellent response) although this month's MOOC hyperbole award goes to this techcrunch piece.

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MOOCs for Credit

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.

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Measuring the Success of Online Education

One of the dirty secrets about MOOCs — massive open online courses — is that they are not very effective, at least if you measure effectiveness in terms of completion rates.

If as few as 20 percent of students finishing an online course is considered a wild success and 10 percent and lower is standard, then it would appear that MOOCs are still more of a hobby than a viable alternative to traditional classroom education.

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Beyond the MOOC Hype: Answers to the Five Biggest MOOC Questions (Part 2)

With big questions one and two, we investigated whether MOOCs really are expanding the reach of higher education, in the U.S. and abroad, and found some surprising results. Now, with the remaining three big questions, we turn our attention to money: who is investing in MOOCs? Are they financially sustainable? Our research suggests that the free MOOC as we know it may not be around for too much longer, but it also gives us some clues as to what might rise in its place.

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Is 2013 Year Of The MOOC?

What kind of credit should be given a student half a world away, one who never set foot on the campus and who experienced school as a mix of self-guided instruction, "personalized" online classes and computerized grading?

Some observers -- notably those offering commercial, computer-mediated instruction outside the traditional college and university system -- say it's time to rethink educational credentialing in secondary education.

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Caution on the MOOC Movement

For the last eight months, the world has been captivated by the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) rage. Coursera has led the way with this movement, but edX, Udacity and a few others have also contributed to the fascination with MOOCs. As was recently reported in the New York Times, Coursera attracted 1 million users faster than Twitter and Facebook did and the company has raised about $22 million in venture capital funding. If users and private funding are good measures of a given innovation, the market seems to be screaming support for MOOCs.

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How California’s Online Education Pilot Will End College As We Know It

Today, the largest university system in the world, the California State University system, announced a pilot for $150 lower-division online courses at one of its campuses — a move that spells the end of higher education as we know it. Lower-division courses are the financial backbone of many part-time faculty and departments (especially the humanities). As someone who has taught large courses at a University of California, I can assure readers that my job could have easily been automated. Most of college–the expansive campuses and large lecture halls–will crumble into ghost towns as budget-strapped schools herd students online

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California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial

A plan to offer an array of online college classes at a California state university could, if the students are successful, open the door to teaching hundreds of thousands of California students at a lower cost via the Internet.

Udacity, a Silicon Valley start-up that creates online college classes, will announce a deal on Tuesday with San Jose State University for a series of remedial and introductory courses.

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Beyond the MOOC Hype: Answers to the Five Biggest MOOC Questions (Part 1)

It is the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue: are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) really all they’re hyped up to be? Here at The EvoLLLution, we’ve waded through all the noise to find out just that, taking a research- and statistics-based look at the field to find answers to five of the most pressing questions concerning MOOCs. Over the course of this two-part series, we will explore the present and future of massive open online courses, analyzing the demographics and the economics to unearth some truths about this educational phenomenon that may surprise you.

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Coursera Takes A Big Step Toward Monetization, Now Lets Students Earn “Verified Certificates” For A Fee

Stanford professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng launched Coursera last year to give anyone and everyone access to courses from top-tier universities — for free, online. At launch, the startup offered courses from a mere three institutions, but today, things have changed, as Coursera’s platform now hosts over 200 courses from 33 top international and domestic schools and reaches over 2 million students around the globe.

It has the makings of a transformational concept, offering content only from the most reputed departments, professors and universities, bringing that experience online and giving the key to the masses. Yet, in spite of a mission that’s easy to get behind, Coursera hasn’t been without its detractors. While massive open online courses (a.k.a. “MOOCs”) were one of the most-talked-about subjects in education in 2012, many believe they are just a flash in the pan — that the growing adoption of MOOCs among universities is the result of peer pressure, an indication that institutions will take any action that might be perceived as “going digital,” regardless of value.

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Students Rush to Web Classes, but Profits May Be Much Later

In August, four months after Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng started the online education company Coursera, its free college courses had drawn in a million users, a faster launching than either Facebook or Twitter.

The co-founders, computer science professors at Stanford University, watched with amazement as enrollment passed two million last month, with 70,000 new students a week signing up for over 200 courses, including Human-Computer Interaction, Songwriting and Gamification, taught by faculty members at the company’s partners, 33 elite universities.

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The MOOCs fad and bubble: please tell us another story!

How can we escape this new buzz about MOOCs, since the launch of Coursera? Is there anything else than the bubble effect created by the media that is part of the strategy itself? This is how our financial economy works, nowadays, this ‘opinion economy’ as André Orléan labels it, where opinion and reputation are the main resources to be processed and produced in order to create attractiveness for investors without any thorough analysis of the properties of the goods or of the company which is assessed. The focus on figures that must be huge as usual was well documented by Kris Olds in ‘On the territorial dimensions of MOOCs.’ It should have attracted more comments since at the age of Web 2.0 and especially for matters of education, one does not really expect this focus on figures, on massive online courses that are exactly the same courses as the ones our parents used to attend. (yes, indeed, more slides but what else?).

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Open University launches British Mooc platform to rival US providers

A UK-based platform for massive open online courses (Moocs) to rival established providers in the US has been launched by The Open University.

Futurelearn will carry courses from 12 UK institutions (see list), which will be available to students across the world free of charge.

It will follow in the footsteps of US providers including Coursera, edX and Udacity, which offer around 230 Moocs from around 40 mostly US-based institutions to more than 3 million students.

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Providers of Free MOOC's Now Charge Employers for Access to Student Data

Providers of free online courses are officially in the headhunting business, bringing in revenue by selling to employers information about high-performing students who might be a good fit for open jobs.

On Tuesday, Coursera, which works with high-profile colleges to provide massive open online courses, or MOOC's, announced its employee-matching service, called Coursera Career Services. Some high-profile tech companies have already signed up—including Facebook and Twitter, according to a post on Coursera's blog, though officials would not disclose how much employers pay for the service. Only students who opt into the service will be included in the system that participating employers see, a detail stressed in an e-mail message that Coursera sent to its nearly two million past or present students on Tuesday.

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Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are the educational buzzword of 2012. Media frenzy surrounds them and commercial interests have moved in. Sober analysis is overwhelmed by apocalyptic predictions that ignore the history of earlier educational technology fads. The paper describes the short history of MOOCs and sets them in the wider context of the evolution of educational technology and open/distance learning. While the hype about MOOCs presaging a revolution in higher education has focussed on their scale, the real revolution is that universities with scarcity at the heart of their business models are embracing openness. We explore the paradoxes that permeate the MOOCs movement and explode some myths enlisted in its support. The competition inherent in the gadarene rush to offer MOOCs will create a sea change by obliging participating institutions to revisit their missions and focus on teaching quality and students as never before. It could also create a welcome deflationary trend in the costs of higher education.

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CourseTalk Launches A Yelp For Open Online Courses And What This Means For Higher Education

One of the most popular topics in education technology these days is the subject of MOOCs, otherwise known as “Massive Open Online Courses.” Thanks to the buzz around MOOC platforms like Coursera, Udacity and edX, there are few universities and colleges that aren’t currently struggling with whether or not they should hop on the bandwagon.

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The New Internet Teaching Stars

Who is Calvin Hollywood? In the world of Photoshop instruction in Germany, Hollywood’s name towers above the rest.

A self-styled maverick of online Photoshop tutorials, Hollywood sticks to his strengths: retouching photographs, teaching others to do the same, and marketing himself. It’s an expansive and lucrative enterprise.

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Can MOOCS be a substitute for campus education?

At first glance, a massive open online course ( MOOC) appears to be a boon to Indian and American students, though for different reasons. In the US, educating oneself has almost become a luxury, where the average cost of a BA is now upwards of $100,000 (Rs 55 lakh) and families often mortgage their houses in order to afford it. Educational debt, at $1 trillion, has now surpassed credit card debt in the country. An Indian, on the other hand, has to score absurdly high marks to even be considered for admission into a college of some repute. He will very rarely end up with his discipline of choice and, more often than not, is destined to receive a sub standard education thanks to poor quality of teaching.

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MOOCs: The Future of Higher Education?

In the UK we are used to accusations of being over-traditional and stuck in our ways and our education system is no exemption to this. In my final year at university I experienced the American lecturer for the first time. Lecturers from the US made fun of our class for expecting to just turn up, sit down and be lectured. They wanted a dialogue, response, audience participation – they taught us in a way that, in contrast to my previous experience, seemed almost futuristic. But I was wrong- the future of education is not in Americans making you say constructive things in lectures, apparently the future is in MOOCs. But what is a MOOC?

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MOOC Brigade: Can Online Courses Keep Students from Cheating?

This winter, when Mary Liu sits down to take the final exam in an online course on epidemiology and biostatistics, she’ll do so from the comfort of her own home. She’ll have 24 hours to complete the test, which accounts for 60% of the final grade in the online course, but no one will be peering over her shoulder to make sure she completes the exam on her own without the aid of any of her 50,000 classmates or Wikipedia. There will also be nothing to verify that it is indeed Liu who is taking the test and not, say, a friend or relative. “It’s just sort of on the honor system,” says Liu, a high school teacher in Cambridge, Mass. She is likely very worthy of the trust that an honor system grants, but then again — in the same year that Harvard is grappling with a massive cheating scandal and anyone with a modem can log on to websites like wetakeyourcourse.com — can you ever really be sure?

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MOOCs Are Really Great! But What’s Next?

Dr. Severance taught the online course “Internet History, Technology, and Security” using the Coursera teaching platform. His course started July 23, 2012 and was free to all who want to register. The course has over 46,000 registered students from all over the world and 6000 are on track to complete the course and earn a certificate. In this session, we will look at the current trends in teaching and learning technology as well as look at technology and pedagogy behind the course, and behind Cour Sera in general. We will look at the dates Gathered for the course and talk about what worked well and what could be improved. Also we will look at some potential long-term effects of the current MOOC efforts. Charles Severance is a Clinical Associate Professor and teaches in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. Charles is a founding faculty member of the Informatics Concentration undergraduate degree program at the University of Michigan. Hey Also works for Blackboard axis Sakai Chief Strategist. Hey Also works with the IMS Global Learning Consortium promoting and developing standards for teaching and learning technology. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation and the Chief Architect of the Sakai Project.

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MOOCs Near the Peak of Inflated Expectations

Is your head spinning from all the recent MOOC announcements? Trying to decide how to navigate these rapid changes? or just trying to separate the kernel of truth from the chaff?

Maybe a little graphic relief can help...

Today we borrow a tool that is often applied solely to technologies – the Hype Cycle – and use this to look at the evolution of open courses.

Gartner coined the term in 1995 and we’ve seen this cycle play out repeatedly. Remember the “dot.com” bubble? During the Hype phase, the Internet was going to change everything! All brick and mortar businesses were going to implode overnight! When these promises (threats?) didn’t convert into reality, disillusionment set in. Then, over time and after many iterative innovations, the Internet has reached the point where we understand its value and can continue to create sustainable value from it.

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In Online Exams, Big Brother Will Be Watching

The boom in online education has created a job that didn’t exist a few years ago: remote test proctor.

More than 100 of them work for ProctorU, a fast-growing startup founded in 2009. Sitting at computers in ProctorU’s offices in Hoover, Alabama, or Livermore, California, the proctors use webcams and screen-sharing software to observe students anywhere as they take a test or complete an online assignment. As the students do the work on their computers, the proctors watch to make sure they don’t cheat.

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2U teams with top schools to to show there’s more to online ed than MOOCs

The New York Times might be calling it “the year of the MOOC,” but the future of online learning isn’t just massive online courses. In the past year, Coursera, Udacity, edX and other free platforms with mega-sized virtual classrooms have garnered mega-sized media attention (and not without good reason). But just outside that spotlight, Landover, Md.-based 2U (formerly 2tor) has been building a strong network of partners, investors and clients for its own model of online education that focuses on small classes, live instruction and teacher-student interaction.

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Online Courses Put Pressure on Universities in Poorer Nations

When prominent U.S. universities began offering free college classes over the Web this year, more than half of the students who signed up were from outside the United States. Consider the story of one of them: Carlos Martinez, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of El Salvador.

Last spring, Martinez enrolled in a class on electronic circuits offered by edX, the $60 million collaboration between MIT and Harvard to stream “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, over the Web. He thought it was so good that he began traveling around El Salvador to convince others to join the class and launched a blog in English to document his adventures as his country’s first “MOOC advocate.”

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The Evolution of DISTANCE LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Distance learning in the U.S., now often referred to as online education, has evolved tremendously from its humble, early reliance on "snail mail' to its modern delivery system rooted in digital innovations. Its impact on higher education has been more than 120 years in the making, with the pace of development accelerating dramatically in recent years.

We should celebrate this vibrant history, and more important, learn from it as we continue to make strides in how we use distance learning and online education to better meet student and employer needs, improve our curricula, and enhance learning.

Here's a look at where we started, how far we've come, and what it tells us about the future of distance learning and online education. We also added a few predictions on what's next, and invite your input as well.

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All about MOOCs

It's been 25 years since I last set foot in a university classroom and, to be honest, the thought of doing so now makes me a little uneasy. Not that I'll be in a classroom per se this time round. The 10-week course on modern and contemporary American poetry that I've enrolled in through Coursera is taught solely online.

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International MOOCs Past and Present

OpenLearning.com, a venture born out of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia. Starting this week, you can begin taking two of their courses (Observing and Analysing Performance in Sport & Services Marketing – The Next Level).

University of Western Australia. By next March, the Perth-based university plans to offer two courses (one in sociology, the other in oceanography) using an adapted version of Stanford’s open source platform, Class2Go.

SpanishMooc? It’s billed as “the first open online Spanish course for everyone.”

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Improving Online Education Technology, One Computer Scientist at a Time

One technological sticking point that faces online education startups like Coursera, which I profile today in MIT Technology Review's November digital education report, is how to grade assignments from tens of thousands of students. This inability for computers to easily grade short answer questions, essays, or even drawings sets a limitation on course offerings, especially for humanities and social science classes. Right now, Coursera is solving this by setting up a peer-grading system for some classes so students can evaluate each other's work.

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The Technology of Massive Open Online Courses

The wave of enthusiasm for online education is unearthing some hard and interesting computational problems that Daphne Koller would love to solve. But first she has to find the time.

Last January, Koller and her colleague Andrew Ng took leave from faculty positions at Stanford University’s artificial-intelligence lab to create Coursera, a venture-financed online-education startup with offices five miles from campus.

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The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years

If you were asked to name the most important innovation in transportation over the last 200 years, you might say the combustion engine, air travel, Henry Ford’s Model-T production line, or even the bicycle. The list goes on.

Now answer this one: what’s been the single biggest innovation in education?

Don’t worry if you come up blank. You’re supposed to. The question is a gambit used by Anant Agarwal, the computer scientist named this year to head edX, a $60 million MIT-Harvard effort to stream a college education over the Web, free, to anyone who wants one. His point: it’s rare to see major technological advances in how people learn.

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Keeping MOOCs Open

MOOCs — or Massive Open Online Courses — have been getting a lot of attention lately. Just in the last year or so, there's been immense interest in the potential for large scale online learning, with significant investments being made in companies (Coursera, Udacity, Udemy), similar non-profit initiatives (edX) and learning management systems (Canvas, Blackboard). The renewed interest in MOOCs was ignited after last year's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course offered via Stanford University, when over 160,000 people signed up to take the free online course. The idea of large-scale, free online education has been around for quite some time. Some examples include David Wile'’s 2007 Introduction to Open Education; Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, led by George Siemens and Stephen Downes in 2008; Open Content Licensing for Educators; and many others.

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Will MOOCs Destroy Academia?

"Thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee," wrote the prophet Isaiah. This phrase has been popping into my mind as I have been following the recent raging discussions over the topic of MOOCs.

For those readers who paid no attention to recent developments, a MOOC is massive open online course; it is a tuition-free course taught over the Web to a large number of students. While online education has a long history, the current wave started in the fall of 2011 when about 450,000 students signed up for three computer-science courses offered by Stanford University. Since then, MOOCs have become the hottest topic of discussion in higher education in the U.S. Within months of the Stanford experiments, several start-up companies debuted, including one that immodestly claims to be "the first elite American university to be launched in a century." Many leading U.S. universities now offer MOOCs, either on their own or in partnership with some of these companies, even though no business model has emerged for MOOC-based education. Some describe the current environment as "MOOC panic" or "MOOC mania." John Hennessy, Stanford's president, describes the phenomenon as a "tsunami."

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Massive Open Online Courses: What’s the Point?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are springing up like mushrooms. They’re this season’s go-to accessory for professional development. Sites like Coursera, Venture-Lab, edX and Udacity are spinning out short (6-10 week) courses on a variety of topics. They mostly deal with STEM subjects, but there are some liberal arts courses beginning to appear. Coursera now claims to have over 1.35 million students. Students of various ages, from hundreds of countries, with diverse backgrounds are flocking to these free courses taught by top universities.

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Minnesota clarifies: Free online ed is OK

Minnesotans, rest assured: Your state government believes you are entitled to free online higher education.

This had been a point of controversy until, well, a few minutes ago. In an earlier post this afternoon, I noted that the free online education provider Coursera had added a proviso to its terms of service that Minnesotans should not take any of its free university courses, or at least that they should do the majority of the work in said courses in another state.

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HarvardX marks the spot

Harvard University's first two courses on the new digital education platform edX launched this week, as more than 100,000 learners worldwide began taking dynamic online versions of CS50, the College's popular introductory computer science class, and PH207, a Harvard School of Public Health course in epidemiology and biostatistics.

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Marginal Revolution University Launches, Bringing Free Courses in Economics to the Web

A great year for open education got even better with the launch of Marginal Revolution University. Founded by Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, two econ professors at George Mason University, MRUniversity promises to deliver free, interactive courses in the economics space. And they’re getting started with a course on Development Economics, a subdiscipline that explores why some countries grow rich and others remain poor. In short, issues that have real meaning for everyday people worldwide.

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Disruption?

As a politics professor, I feel I should know something about health policy, but it is mostly dread that made me sign up for Ezekiel Emanuel’s class, Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act, through Coursera. Word is that higher education is about to be disrupted by online providers, like Coursera and Udacity, and their MOOCs (massive open online courses). If students can take political philosophy with Harvard’s Michael Sandel for free, why will they pay to take it with me?

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Fight the MOOCopalypse!

Like everywhere else that’s considering MOOCs, the faculty of my school are talking a lot about what’s going to happen next. One of my colleagues echoed Elliot Soloway’s comment from the Google Faculty Summit, saying that soon, all that would be left is research universities, and all other college education would be by MOOC. He noted that there are some non-trivial issues in making MOOCs more effective. I wrote an overly-dramatic reply, which I include here with edits for context.

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50 Top Sources Of Free eLearning Courses

Whether you are looking for a master's degree program, computer science classes, a K-12 curriculum, or GED study program, this list gives you a look at 50 websites that promise education for free.

From databases that organize over 1,000,000 students throughout 16 universities, to a small library of documents for those interested in history, the opportunities for free online learning continue to expand as the Internet becomes a crucial component in education.

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The Crisis in Higher Education

A hundred years ago, higher education seemed on the verge of a technological revolution. The spread of a powerful new communication network—the modern postal system—had made it possible for universities to distribute their lessons beyond the bounds of their campuses. Anyone with a mailbox could enroll in a class. Frederick Jackson Turner, the famed University of Wisconsin historian, wrote that the “machinery” of distance learning would carry “irrigating streams of education into the arid regions” of the country. Sensing a historic opportunity to reach new students and garner new revenues, schools rushed to set up correspondence divisions. By the 1920s, postal courses had become a full-blown mania. Four times as many people were taking them as were enrolled in all the nation’s colleges and universities combined.

The hopes for this early form of distance learning went well beyond broader access. Many educators believed that correspondence courses would be better than traditional on-campus instruction because assignments and assessments could be tailored specifically to each student. The University of Chicago’s Home-Study Department, one of the nation’s largest, told prospective enrollees that they would “receive individual personal attention,” delivered “according to any personal schedule and in any place where postal service is available.” The department’s director claimed that correspondence study offered students an intimate “tutorial relationship” that “takes into account individual differences in learning.” The education, he said, would prove superior to that delivered in “the crowded classroom of the ordinary American University.”

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Class2Go: Stanford’s New Open-Source Platform For Online Education

The cost of higher education in the U.S. today is ridiculous. Student debt shot north of $1 trillion earlier this year, for example. It's not surprising, then, that the adoption of web and mobile learning tools is skyrocketing, toppling old modes of learning and creating new ones.

There is no better, more relevant example than "MOOCs", otherwise known as "massive online open courses". The buzz around these platforms (think Khan Academy, Coursera) is creating a stir in higher education, as they've come to represent a new model of online learning (change) and the promise of quality, affordable education at scale - something that just wasn't possible five years ago.

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Publishers See Online Mega-Courses as Opportunity to Sell Textbooks

Colleges aren't the only enterprises interested in the possibilities of free, online courses. Publishers have begun to investigate whether so-called MOOC's, or massive open online courses, can help them reach new readers and sell more books.

For the moment, providers of the classes encourage professors not to require students to buy texts, in order to keep access as open as possible. So publishers can't count on MOOC's to generate a course-adoption sales.

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Gates Foundation Offers Grants for MOOC’s in Introductory Classes

Hundreds of thousands of students worldwide are flocking to free online courses in topics like artificial intelligence and data analysis. But what about the student who’s struggling with basic algebra or English composition?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wants to find out whether the massive open online courses that have proved so popular in advanced and often highly technical fields offer the same promise for remedial and introductory courses.

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edX Offers Proctored Exams for Open Online Course

Students enrolled in a free open online course offered through edX will now have the option of getting their learning validated with a proctored final exam, under a new program announced today.

The nonprofit online-learning venture, founded by MIT and Harvard, will let students take on-site exams administered by the Pearson VUE service, which has more than 450 testing centers in more than 110 countries. Students who pass the tests will receive certificates noting that they completed a proctored exam.

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MOOC Brigade: Will Massive, Open Online Courses Revolutionize Higher Education?

MOOC may be a silly-sounding acronym, but this new breed of online classes is shaking up the higher education world in ways that could be good for cash-strapped students and terrible for cash-strapped colleges. Taking a class online might not sound revolutionary—after all, in the fall of 2010, 6.1 million students were enrolled in at least one online course. But those classes were pretty similar to the bricks-and-mortar kind, in that students paid fees to enroll in classes taught and graded by a professor and some teaching assistants. But MOOCs, short for massive open online courses, are a different animal. They can be taken by hundreds of thousands of students at the same time. And perhaps the most striking thing about MOOCs, many of which are being taught by professors at prestigious universities, is that they’re free.

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Into the Future With MOOC's

In the spring of my freshman year in college, I took "Principles of Microeconomics" in Lecture Hall 1, a 400-seat auditorium. The professor was an economist and thus possessed a certain perspective on human nature. On the first day of class, he explained that our grades would be based on two midterms and a final. If we skipped the first midterm, the second would count double. If we skipped them both, the final would count for 100 percent of our grade. I may or may not have waited until the hour ended before walking out the back door of Lecture Hall 1 toward the nearest bar.

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Learning From One Another

"A little bit loopy and elliptical, but interesting."

That is how J.R. Reddig, a 61-year-old program director for a Virginia-based defense software contractor, described his classmates' essays in Internet History, Technology and Security, a massive open online course (MOOC) the University of Michigan is offering through Coursera.

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2 Reasons Why edX Will Release its Platform as Open Source

This summer has been the time of the massively open online course. Anyone can sign up for this type of course given by one or two instructors. And large numbers of students can participate, usually at no cost.

In July, both the for-profit Coursera and the not-for-profit edX announced additional university members within a week of each other. University of California, Berkeley, joined the founding members of edX, MIT and Harvard.

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The MOOC-Led Meritocracy

This week Udacity announced that had cancelled a scheduled math class over concerns about quality. In doing so, it added another item to the growing list of marked contrasts between MOOC's and traditional universities. Does this kind of thing ever happen at "regular" colleges? Could it? At minimum, such an event would seem to require (a) defined standards of quality, and (b) some process whereby courses are systematically evaluated against those standards before the beginning of class.

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What is a MOOC? What are the different types of MOOC? xMOOCs and cMOOCs

The acronym “MOOC” has been in vogue recently, with lots of discussion about organisations like udacity, coursera and edX. The acronym stands for “Massive Open Online Course.”

These organisations provide one interpretation of the MOOC model. They focus on concise, targeted video content – with short videos rather than full-length lectures to wade through – and use automated testing to check students’ understanding as they work through the content.

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Education Leaders See MOOCs, Distance Learning as the Future of Higher Ed

If you were to gather together a thousand academics, researchers, university IT and instructional technology leaders, institutional librarians, technology and media company executives, authors, journalists, futurists, association presidents, and other interested people and ask them to consider the possible impact of the Internet on higher education, the outlook you'd get would closely resemble the rich patchwork of perspective offered in a recent report from Elon University's School of Communications, as part of its "Imagining the Internet" project. Most of them would say there's a lot of change coming.

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MOOC motivations and magnitudes: Reflections on the MOOC experience vs the MOOC drop out

One of the foundations of the, I think largely unfounded, criticisms of the MOOC is the high drop out rate.

But I think this is a complete misunderstanding of how proportions work. As in so many other cases, people are basically taking two similar looking different domains of experience and translating meaningless percentages between them without consideration of scale.

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Dozens of Plagiarism Incidents Are Reported in Coursera's Free Online Courses

Students taking free online courses offered by the startup company Coursera have reported dozens of incidents of plagiarism, even though the courses bear no academic credit. This week a professor leading one of the so-called Massive Open Online Courses posted a plea to his 39,000 students to stop plagiarizing, and Coursera's leaders say they will review the issue and consider adding plagiarism-detection software in the future.

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Three Kinds of MOOCs

We are so into MOOCs now that it’s too much for me. Gotta apply Ockham’s Razor 2.0 to this stuff.

At the Ed-Media conference, I attended a session by Sarah Schrire of Kibbutzim College of Education in Tel Aviv. In her discussion of Troubleshooting MOOCs, she noted the dificulties in determining her own direction in offering a MOOC in the "Stanford model" MOOCs versus the "connectivism" MOOCs. I found myself breaking it down into three categories instead.

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What is and what is not a MOOC: A picture of family resemblance (working undefinition)

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs for short, have been getting a lot of attention recently. There have been several high profile posts (see here for a summary) complaining about the lack of clarity about what constitutes a MOOC (and I think this resulted in a more generalized MOOC backlash). This is an attempt to draw up a picture of what MOOCs look like and what they don’t look like. It is not a definition in the traditional sense (an undefinition, perhaps) but I think it captures the idea.

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Coders Get Instant Gratification With Khan Academy Programming

Since 2006 the Khan Academy, named for its founder Salman Khan, has provided free video lectures on subjects such as mathematics, biology and history. As we.ve reported before Khan garnered praise from the likes of Bill Gates (whose foundation invested $1.5 million in the site), but others have been more critical of the lecture-driven approach. Thus far the site has only included prerecorded lectures that offered no feedback or interaction.

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Coursera hits 1 million students across 196 countries

It’s been nearly four months since we officially launched with our founding cohort of four universities, and only a few weeks since we announced the addition of 12 new universities, bringing our total up to 16 participating schools. Since we started Coursera in January, we’ve seen tremendous growth—from student enrollments to the range of courses we are able to offer these students (now at 116, across the range of disciplines). We feel incredibly humbled by all of the support we’ve gotten.

Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve hit 1 million enrolled students on Coursera across 196 countries. In light of this milestone, we thought we’d share some interesting statistics about our students.

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MOOC pedagogy: the challenges of developing for Coursera

In the summer of 2012 the team of teachers and researchers associated with the MSc in E-learning programme at the University of Edinburgh began developing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for the Coursera platform. Launched only a year earlier, this for-profit company founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller has focussed primarily on hosting computer science related courses from big name US institutions. The recently announced partnership with the University of Edinburgh presented the team with an opportunity to engage and experiment with the much-publicised MOOC format, and foreground issues related to the theory and practice of online education itself. What follows are some of our perspectives on the planning and development of a large scale open course, what challenges the MOOC presents for delivering a worthwhile educational experience, and what questions this type of course format provokes for a team already teaching and researching in the field of e-learning and technology in higher education.

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The Rise Of The Star Professor

In his essential work on the rise of Hollywood, "The Genius of the System", my cousin, and former University of Texas Film Department Chairperson, Tom Schatz, traced the evolution of the actor superstar. Back in the late 1930s and early 1940s, when the Hollywood studio system was in its industrial prime, not to mention its first Golden Age, a high percentage of actors made a living in L.A. This is because each studio had to regularly churn out a healthy quota of genre flicks - westerns, comedies, thrillers - to sate the appetite of a movie-hungry public. To ensure that there was ample talent to fulfill demand, actors and directors, big and small, were legally bound to a specific studio, which wrote and shot its movies on its own lots, processed them through its own labs, and released them through its own distributors for exhibition in its own theaters. As a result, the "Big Five" studio oligopolies dictated the terms of film production, not stars and their agents. The system worked because it provided equitably distributed work, a dependable allotment of solid and original films, and livable wages all the way around.

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What's right and what's wrong about Coursera-style MOOCs

Daphne Koller, one of the two founders of Coursera, describes some of the key features of the Coursera MOOCs, and the lessons she has learned to date about teaching and learning from these courses. The video is well worth watching, just for this. However I'm probably going to suffer the same kind of fate of the Russian female punk band, Pussy Riot, by spitting on the altar of MOOCs, but this TED talk captures for me all that is both right and wrong about the MOOCs being promoted by the elite US universities.

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The Online Pecking Order

Online education not only gave nontraditional students a chance to enroll in collegiate programs from afar; it has also given universities that historically have not enjoyed the prestige of the Ivies a chance to build a reputation on fresh territory and build reliable revenue streams.

But, now that higher education’s traditional heavyweights are creating online courses and offering them for free to anyone who wants to register, those universities that have made names for themselves in the market for “conventional” online programs are trying to sort out how these high-profile “MOOCs” (i.e., Massive Open Online Courses) could affect their own positions in an online market where many have staked their futures.

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The Case For Online Education

In recent months, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Princeton, Cal Tech, Penn, Edinburgh and dozens of other elite universities have jumped into the market for online education, signing up anyone, anywhere who wants to sign up for free Web-based courses. Some are developing their own distance learning technology, while others are partnering with such companies as Coursera and Udacity.

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Worked Examples for Learning Programming: Choosing better or choosing MOOC

I'm teaching at Oxford this summer, on Georgia Tech's study abroad program. I'm teaching two classes. One is a ten person computer science special topics course called "Computational Freakonomics". We've never been able to fit CompFreak into the schedule on campus, so it's great to have the chance to try it. I'm also teaching "Introduction to Media Computation", an introduction to programming for liberal arts and management majors, which is a great joy for me. I haven't taught the course in seven years. It's normally taught in sections of 75-150. I have 22 students.

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What Will Higher Education Look Like in 2020?

In 12 years, higher education could look totally different. Or it could be almost the same. It just depends on who you talk to. A survey of 1,021 technology stakeholders and critics by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Elon University School of Communications showed both of these responses. Just more than half of respondents agreed that higher education would be different by 2020, complete with more hybrid classes that combine online and in-person pieces. Thirty-nine percent agreed with the opposite statement that higher education wouldn't be much different, and in-person classes would remain a mainstay.

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Universities on the Defensive: What is it we do

Ian Bogost's piece (linked below) on Georgia Tech's involvement in Coursera is biting and to-the-point. "The fundamental problem isn't one of cost containment, it's one of funding -of understanding why the cost containment solution appeared in the first place. We collectively 'decided' not to fund education in America". Why is Georgia Tech doing Coursera? Why are any of the other schools doing this? He argues that nobody knows, that everybody is doing this because they are trying to position themselves as a member of the elite, as being in the lead. It's a defensive posture.

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Bandwagon

UC-Berkeley jumped onto the online bandwagon today, joining the edX initiative along with Harvard and M.I.T. In doing so it become the latest in a growing roster of elite American universities committing to offer so-called Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to the world, free of charge, and to give succesful students some kind of certificate / letter / attestation of what they have learned.

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MOOCs are really a platform

We can officially declare massive open online courses (MOOCs) as the higher education buzzword for 2012. Between Coursera, edX and smaller open course offerings, nearly $100 million in funding has been directed toward MOOCs in that past 8 months. Newspapers from NYTimes to Globe and Mail to publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, TV programs such as NPR, radio programs such as CBC, and a few hundred thousand blog posts have contributed to the hype. In higher education, there is joyful abundance of opinions on the topic, ranging from breathless proclamations of their disruptive potential to general dismissal of any value. I.ve captured numerous articles here on diigo.

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Good MOOC's, Bad MOOC's

So I just finished a brief radio appearance (CBC) on the subject of Massive Open, Online Courses (MOOCs). The main guest was George Siemens who, with Stephen Downes, helped pioneer these courses in Canada. Even though all of the press coverage has gone to the competing Stanford edu-preneurs behind Coursera and Udacity, Siemens and Downes have done much of the most important work, theoretical and practical, distinguishing between good and bad MOOC's.

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The March of the MOOCs: Monstrous Open Online Courses

MOOCs are a red herring. The MOOC didn't appear last week, out of a void, vacuum-packed. The MOOC has been around for years, biding its time. Still, the recent furor about MOOCs, which some have called "hysteria", opens important questions about higher education, digital pedagogy, and online learning. The MOOCs themselves aren't what's really at stake. In spite of the confused murmurs in the media, MOOCs won.t actually chomp everything in their path. And they aren't an easy solution to higher education's financial crisis. In fact, a MOOC isn't a thing at all, just a methodological approach, with no inherent value except insofar as it's used.

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Online Learning: Where is the Money?

MIT offers their MITx online courses and certificates for a price, Stanford offers some online courses free, and Utah State University professor Wiley provides successful students with letters confirming course completion. But offering online learning has failed many using these business models. Cambridge, Chicago, Cornell, Michigan, New York and Oxford, Stanford, Temple and Yale Universities, University of Maryland University College and the London School of Economics all terminated their online courses for financial reasons. They were all started assuming student tuition and fees would pay for both the cost of operation and for developing very effective, high quality course materials.

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The revolution might be televised

The first time I watched the awful EPIC2020 videos I was so irked by everything about them that I never went back to look carefully at the details of their campaign to reform higher education. But now I have, and I'm beyond irked. I've been boosted into the realm of appalled fascination. They're going to "shatter the paradigm that the future will be anything like the past as well as facilitate discussion and accelerate actions to bring about the transformation of the education of the world". I can't look away.

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How education startup Coursera may profit from free courses

Earlier this week, online education startup Coursera said it added twelve new university partners and raised an additional $6 million. When I spoke with co-founder Andrew Ng, he mentioned that possible revenue models could involve matching students with potential employers or charging students for certificates from partner universities. But a contract between Coursera and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, obtained by the Chronicle of Higher Education through a Freedom of Information Act request, provides more clarity into possible ways the startup, which is committed to offering free classes, could make money.

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MOOCs Fail Students With Dark Age Methods

The sudden rise of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has been a shock for many in the education industry - no more so than to programmers engaged in creating educational software. The shock is that the methods used by these hugely successful courses are little changed from the dark ages. If you think I'm being a critical outsider, then you might like to know that one of the leading lights in the movement, Peter Norvig, agrees with me. He even makes a joke in his recent Ted Talk that lectures in MOOCs are just like the 16th century monastic lecture theaters complete with the guy at the back sleeping!

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We've been MOOCed

I've been following the explosion of all things MOOC over the last few weeks somewhat quietly, the hype has even come home to roost at UMW in some odd ways. It's been at once exciting and disquieting to watch. I'm excited for the folks like Siemens, Downes, and Cormier who framed the concepts and ideas behind the term and experimented wildly with its possibilities ever since. On the other side, I am pretty spooked by how denatured the term and its various meanings have become. And whether or not you try and break it up into categories, subsets, etc., the term MOOC -along with whatever ills or benefits people assign to it- has created a dramatic impact. Most of that impact right now is still based in media reaction, but it's fascinating to see how quickly that translates into real decisions by major elite institutions.

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No such thing as a free MOOC

And that brings me to our recent decision in the University of Edinburgh to join our colleagues in North America and offer our own MOOCs - or massive open online courses - through the Coursera consortium.

It has been a very busy few weeks. After taking the in principle decision, there has been a tsunami of sorting the legals (you might be surprised at how much of this there is when you place your courses with another organisation, even if those courses are free!); choosing the MOOCs to develop; making sure we have enough capacity for shooting a lot of short videos in a tight timeframe; informing senior colleagues and University Court; organising publicity and responses to queries – at times it has felt over-whelming.

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Inside the Coursera Contract: How an Upstart Company Might Profit From Free Courses

Coursera has been operating for only a few months, but the company has already persuaded some of the world's best-known universities to offer free courses through its online platform. Colleges that usually move at a glacial pace are rushing into deals with the upstart company. But what exactly have they signed up for? And if the courses are free, how will the company—and the universities involved—make money to sustain them?

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MOOCs are marketing

Earlier this week, Georgia Tech and eleven other higher education institutions announced their participation in Coursera, a company that hosts online courses. Reactions have been predictably dramatic, as exemplified by Jordan Weissman's panegyric in the Atlantic, titled The Single Most Important Experiment in Higher Education.

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What It's Like to Teach a MOOC (and What the Heck's a MOOC?)

Yesterday, the start-up Coursera announced a collaboration with some of the nation's best research universities: It would offer their classes, for free, online. It would offer them in something called a MOOC: a Massive Open Online Course, made up of chunked quizzes, assignments and lecture videos. In Coursera's model, and most others, MOOCs are free. They seem to be massively successful. They fit within the internet's broad mythology of disruption: knowledge, formerly imprisoned in the Ivory Tower, now romps across the internet!

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Online Higher Education

The higher education community is abuzz with debates regarding massive open online courses (MOOCs) and distance education, fueled in no small part by the stunning response to Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig's online AI course at Stanford. (This and other courses have since become part of Udacity.) In turn, MIT's Open Courseware and online learning initiative, MITx, were the progenitors of edX, a joint venture between MIT and Harvard. Coursera and a consortium of twelve major universities also just announced a partnership to offer MOOCs. The Khan Academy has adopted a different model, emphasizing micro-lectures on thousands of topics. Since then, other public, private and non-profit institutions, not to mention pundits and commentators, have joined the fray.

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Universities Reshaping Education on the Web

As part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education, Coursera, a year-old company founded by two Stanford University computer scientists, will announce on Tuesday that a dozen major research universities are joining the venture. In the fall, Coursera will offer 100 or more free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, that are expected to draw millions of students and adult learners globally.

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So Long Stuffy Lecture Halls: Coursera Just Tripled Its Digital Campus

The race to create a full-fledged digital campus - with renowned professors teaching everything from astronomy to obesity economics online - has a new front-runner. Coursera, a startup founded by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, has just added 65 courses and a dozen participating universities to its lineup.

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Top Universities Test the Online Appeal of Free

A few months ago, free online courses from prestigious universities were a rarity. Now, they are the cause for announcements every few weeks, as a field suddenly studded with big-name colleges and competing software platforms evolves with astonishing speed.

In a major development on Tuesday, a dozen highly ranked universities said they had signed on with Coursera, a new venture offering free classes online. They still must overcome some skepticism about the quality of online education and the prospects for having the courses cover the costs of producing them, but their enthusiasm is undimmed.

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Lessons learned from MITx’s prototype course

Last December, MIT announced the creation of MITx, an ambitious project to recreate the MIT classroom experience online; in March, the MITx prototype course — “Circuits and Electronics,” or 6.002x in MIT’s course-numbering system — debuted. In May, MIT and Harvard University jointly announced the creation of edX, an organization that will further develop the MITx platform and enable other universities to use it as well.

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The VLE vs. PLE debate

On Friday I did an unkeynote with Ricardo Torres Kompen at the PLE conference in Aveiro. I must admit I was a little nervous as I have not done one before. I prepared a presentation but when I met with Ricardo I realised that the format was wrong, it was too much like a traditional one-way talk.

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MOOC’s Aren’t a Panacea, but That Doesn’t Blunt Their Promise

The battle for the future of higher ed has landed—at least for the time being—on a concept few in academe had even heard of a year ago: the Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC. The idea of offering free courses online to tens of thousands of students has suddenly become the latest, greatest way to "fix" higher ed, promoted by education-technology entrepreneurs and bemoaned by traditional academics.

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What’s the Matter With MOOCs?

One of the most interesting and maddening issues to emerge from the debacle at the University of Virginia over the past month has been the obsession that people far removed from the actual work of teaching college and university students have for MOOCs.

MOOCs is the acronym we use to describe “Massive Open Online Courses,” such as those offered with great fanfare by Stanford University, MIT, Harvard, and others. We saw this obsession expressed in the e-mails that UVa Rector Helen Dragas exchanged with the recently resigned Vice Rector, Mark Kington. The e-mails were released after the UVa student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, issued a Freedom of Information request for them. It seems that both Kington and Dragas saw these recent moves by America’s elite private universities as something of a missed opportunity for UVa.

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Motivation in MOOC

How to engage and motivate adult learners? Viplav asks: "What skills do learners require to navigate these new learning environments? Does it require that they be motivated, socially enabled and have certain Critical Literacies? Should we worry about motivation or presume it? Is learning an art that can be acquired through reflection and practice or is it a science that can/should be rigorously taught?".

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Can you cheat in a MOOC?

The explosion of net-based learning and in particular so-called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) with thousands of students participating online for free has of course inspired many writers to warn against the dangers of cheating and plagiarism. Of course there are few control mechanisms in massive online courses and the whole concept is based very much on trust and mutual respect. However since MOOCs are voluntary, informal and do not lead to regular university credits the issue of cheating on such a course would seem rather irrelevant. Who are you cheating on such a course? What is the point of cheating?

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Cheating in a MOOC - an Oxymoron

This weekend I read an article in Forbes that suggested students cheating while taking a MOOC is a serious roadblock to providers of the new MOOCs, specifically Udacity, Coursera and soon to be launched edX. This is misinformation at its finest. Cheating in a MOOC is an oxymoron, a contraction of terms, similar to an "open secret" or the "original as a copy", they don't fit.

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Top US universities put their reputations online

This autumn more than a million students are going to take part in an experiment that could re-invent the landscape of higher education. Some of the biggest powerhouses in US higher education are offering online courses - testing how their expertise and scholarship can be brought to a global audience. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have formed a $60m (£38m) alliance to launch edX, a platform to deliver courses online - with the modest ambition of "revolutionising education around the world".

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MITx - the Fallout Rate

Dropout rates are a concern for concrete universities.When a student fails to complete a course they signed up to it's bad - for the student, for the teacher and for the institution. Is it any different for a virtual MOOC? MITx has completed its one and only MOOC (massive open online course) which attracted over 150,000 sign-ups. The certificates have been issued to those who passed - 7,157 students - and participants have also been privileged to know the course statistics.

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Coursera: The Good, the Bad And The Ugly

With enrollment of more than 1 million students and 124 courses across 17 categories, Coursera is the largest of massive open online course (MOOC) education sites.

It offers students the capability of taking college courses for free, though without official credit. Coursera and other MOOC sites have opened the doors of higher education to those who cannot afford the classrooms of elite universities. Many of the sites’ proponents claim that Coursera is introducing the future of education. Launched early this year, the site has begun receiving feedback and reviews from its students and critics who have taken its offered courses. So what do the masses have to report about the benefits and drawbacks of Coursera? Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly.

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Penn reaches thousands online with Coursera

Call them the daring dozen. As part of Penn.s new partnership with the start-up online education platform called Coursera, 12 professors have agreed to be the first to venture into the unchartered waters of large-scale cyber teaching. Coursera, designed by two Stanford computer scientists, is a web portal meant to make interactive online courses from top universities available for free to millions of people across the globe. Penn is partnering with Coursera, along with Princeton University, Stanford University, and the University of Michigan, in the new company.s effort to distribute not only math, engineering, and science courses to users, but also a selection of courses in the humanities and social sciences, taught to thousands of students at once.

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Free, branded online programs could be the best of all worlds

As the internet burgeoned in the 1990s, management guru Peter Drucker said on-site universities would be dead in 50 years. "Click" would replace "brick". New York University started NYU online. Classrooms of thousands were expected. Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, London School of Economics, Stanford and Chicago business school spent $100 million on Cardean University. Australia launched U21 Global. The model was flawed.

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How Would You Like A Graduate Degree For $100?

Ask Sebastian Thrun what makes him tick, and the inventor and Google Fellow ­offers up three favorite themes: big open problems, a desire to help people and "disrespect for authority". Thrun, 45, has been aiming high -and annoying the old guard- for nearly two decades. As a college student in Germany he dashed off to conferences to present major papers on machine learning without getting his professor's permission. Thrun made the cover of FORBES in 2006 with his talk of creating self-driving cars that could navigate traffic and follow directions without human guidance. As the founding head of Google's advanced-research X Lab, Thrun helped turn those robocars into reality. After 200,000 miles of road tests his vehicles are safe enough for Nevada to approve them on public roads. California may follow suit.

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Who Takes MOOCs?

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are popular. This much we know. But as investors and higher ed prognosticators squint into their crystal balls for hints of what this popularity could portend for the rest of higher education, two crucial questions remains largely unanswered: Who are these students, and what do they want?

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Take FREE online courses from the TOP 40 colleges in the US

Online education is ubiquitous, it seems, and has a lot to recommend it, such as the convenience of learning when and where you want, and the fact that there are so many free courses out there. However, many online schools seem like they suddenly came out of nowhere, as if created yesterday by a committee of MBA types. The good news is that most brick and mortar schools now have online programs, including most of the best universities in America, and many offer online courses that are 100% free to take.

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Udacity to partner with Pearson for testing: What does this mean?

Online educational startup Udacity, with whom I had a very positive experience while taking their CS 101 course, is taking things a bit further by partnering with Pearson. They’ll be using Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide to provide proctored final exams for some of their courses (presumably all of their courses will be included eventually), leading to an official credential and participation in a job placement service.

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MOOC Mythbuster - What MOOCs are and what they aren't

Mr. Friedman is right - and though he doesn't mention MOOCs directly in the article, the "revolution" he is speaking of is in the near future with the launch of edX and Coursera by the Ivy Universities. This past week I've been following a number of blog posts and articles about MOOCs, Massive Open and Online Courses, of which Coursera's model is based upon [edX I predict will be something different], yet there's been much speculation, misconceptions, exaggerations and misinformation. It's time to clear the air - in this post I'll define what MOOCs are and are not, what the skeptics are saying, and I'll conclude the post with an attempt to clarify the differences (and similarities), between MOOCs, online courses for credit, and traditional face-to-face courses.

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Thirsting for Knowledge? Try a MOOC

One of the signs that technology is on the verge of changing higher education in profound ways is the recent rise of MOOCs. That stands for Massively Open Online Courses, and the most recent high-profile entrant into this burgeoning field is edX, a shared venture between Harvard University and MIT that will start offering classes in Fall 2012.

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As Elite Colleges Invite the World Online, Questions Remain on Their Business Plans

When Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced this month that they were forming a partnership to offer online courses free to the masses, they pledged $60-million to the effort, dubbed edX. That’s about twice the median budget of four-year colleges and universities in the United States. All for courses that, for now, won’t bring in a penny in tuition revenue.

Harvard and MIT are not alone. Their announcement followed closely behind a similar one just a few weeks earlier by another group of elite institutions: the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford and Princeton Universities. That effort, through a new company called Coursera, was backed by $16-million in venture capital.

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Come the Revolution

Andrew Ng is an associate professor of computer science at Stanford, and he has a rather charming way of explaining how the new interactive online education company that he cofounded, Coursera, hopes to revolutionize higher education by allowing students from all over the world to not only hear his lectures, but to do homework assignments, be graded, receive a certificate for completing the course and use that to get a better job or gain admission to a better school.

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The Big Idea That Can Revolutionize Higher Education: 'MOOC'

In the historic sweep of technology, higher education stands apart as a bastion of old-fashioned thinking. But in anticipation that the information revolution is coming for colleges, Ivy League colleges are competing to create online classes without the Ivy League price tag and without the Ivy League admission hurdles. In a recent article in the New Yorker, the President of Stanford, John Hennessy said, "There's a tsunami coming."

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Harvard and MIT team up to change the online education game

In a society where convenience is king, it is only logical to expect that higher education will be included in the ever growing list of industries that have embraced the Internet and mobile technology. When most people think of online education, the first institutions that come to mind are schools like the Universities of Phoenix and Devry, which do a commendable job offering variety and flexibility for "non-traditional" students, but have to constantly address perception issues regarding the quality of their programs (especially from their peers in academia). Somewhat ironically, nearly all accredited schools also offer some courses online, but most are criticized for being made up almost entirely of video lectures and lacking in the collaboration that is part of the traditional college experience. However, many experts in the fields of technology and education believe that there is a coming shift that will redefine distance learning.

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Move Over Harvard And MIT, Stanford Has The Real 'Revolution In Education'

Lectures are often the least educational aspect of college; I know, I.ve taught college seniors and witnessed how little students learn during their four years in higher education. So, while it.s noble that MIT and Harvard are opening their otherwise exclusive lecture content to the public with EdX, hanging a webcam inside of a classroom is a not a "revolution in education".

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My life is a MOOC

I have been meaning to catch up with the interesting discussion happening around MOOCs. I believe that there will be and should be plurality of approaches and intentions - they are the inevitable accompaniment to change itself.

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What's the "problem" with MOOCs?

In case the quotes didn't clue you in, this post doesn't argue against massive open online courses (MOOCs) such as the ones offered by Udacity, Coursera, and edX. I think they are very worthy ventures and will serve to progress our system of higher education. I do however agree with some criticisms of these courses, and that there is room for much more progress. I propose an alternative model for such massive open online learning experiences, or MOOLEs, that focuses on solving "problems", but first, here's a sampling of some of the criticisms of MOOCs.

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MITx: What the students think

What's it like taking a course with 120,000 other students? That is one of the questions raised this spring by the debut of MITx, the Institute's new online educational initiative. The first offering - a course dubbed 6.002x, or "Circuits and Electronics" - is running from March 5 through June 8, modeled after one of the introductory courses taught in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

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Ex-Stanford Teacher.s New Startup Brings University-Level Education To All

Using Khan Academy as inspiration, Sebastian Thrun decided to bring his Stanford class on artificial intelligence online. Anyone could sign up for free. And 160,000 people from around the world did. He saw the power of creating interactive lectures and distributing them for free. He left Stanford and launched Udacity, a company focused on bringing free university-level education to the world.

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Udacity CS101: What’s Been Good

Sorry to be gone for a few days without posting. It's been basically triage here as we move toward the end of the semester. It's also nearly the end of the CS101 course at Udacity (whose courses come in "hexamesters", six times a year), so this week I'm planning on giving a sequence of posts that sum up my experience.

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The Stanford Education Experiment Could Change Higher Learning Forever

Stanford doesn’t want me. I can say that because it’s a documented fact: I was once denied admission in writing. I took my last math class back in high school. Which probably explains why this quiz on how to get a computer to calculate an ideal itinerary is making my brain hurt. I’m staring at a crude map of Romania on my MacBook. Twenty cities are connected in a network of straight black lines. My goal is to determine the best route from Arad to Bucharest. A handful of search algorithms with names like breadth-first, depth-first, uniform-cost, and A* can be used. Each employs a different strategy for scanning the map and considering various paths. I’ve never heard of these algorithms or considered how a computer determines a route. But I’ll learn, because despite the utter lack of qualifications I just mentioned, I’m enrolled in CS221: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, a graduate- level course taught by Stanford professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig.

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A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups

Harsh economic realities mean trouble for college leaders. But where administrators perceive an impending crisis, investors increasingly see opportunity.

In recent years, venture capitalists have poured millions into education-technology start-ups, trying to cash in on a market they see as ripe for a digital makeover. And lately, those wagers have been getting bigger.

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MIT launches online learning initiative

MIT today announced the launch of an online learning initiative internally called “MITx.” MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform that will:

organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace

feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication

allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx

operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.

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Engagement and Motivation in MOOCs

Most of the research into measuring student engagement prior to the widespread adoption of online, or web based classes, has concentrated on the simple measure of attendance (Douglas & Alemanne, 2007). "Stovall (2003) suggests that engagement is defined by a combination of students. time on task and their willingness to participate in activities. Krause and Coates (2008) say that engagement is the quality of effort students themselves devote to educationally purposeful activities that contribute directly to desired outcomes."

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Virtual and Artificial, but 58,000 Want Course

A free online course at Stanford University on artificial intelligence, to be taught this fall by two leading experts from Silicon Valley, has attracted more than 58,000 students around the globe . a class nearly four times the size of Stanford.s entire student body. The course is one of three being offered experimentally by the Stanford computer science department to extend technology knowledge and skills beyond this elite campus to the entire world, the university is announcing on Tuesday.

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More 'Open Teaching' Courses, and What They Could Mean for Colleges

Last month we wrote about a professor’s experiment in “open teaching,” in which he allowed anyone to take his online course and fully participate in discussions. Since then readers have alerted us to at least three other experiments in open teaching, in what appears to be a growing movement.

More than 2,000 people have signed up to be informal students in an online course on “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” taught by Stephen Downes, a senior researcher at the National Research Council of Canada, and George Siemens, associate director of research and development at University of Manitoba’s Learning Technologies Centre. Students can add to a course blog and a wiki, and read highlights on a daily e-mail newsletter. At least one day a week, everyone can tune in and ask questions during a multimedia Webcast. Think radio call-in show with professors as hosts, says Mr. Downes. Twenty-four students have enrolled to take the course for credit through the University of Manitoba.

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When Professors Print Their Own Diplomas, Who Needs Universities?

Who needs college credit when you have a makeshift diploma from a superstar professor?

David Wiley taught an online course at Utah State University last fall and let anyone fully participate, even if they weren’t enrolled. In the end, five people the registrar had never heard of joined discussions with the 15 or so regular students and got papers graded by Mr. Wiley, who considered the extra work a public service.

The unofficial students paid no tuition and got no formal credit, but they did end up with something tangible: a homemade certificate signed by Mr. Wiley, who at the time directed the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning and is well known in the area of online learning.

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Does Class Size Matter?

The smallest class I ever taught had three students. The largest I ever taught had 173. In both cases, I felt guilty. In the small class I felt like I was being overcompensated, and in the large class I felt quite sure the students would have gotten more from the class if it had been smaller.

Although both of these experiences were at previous schools, I teach now at the State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred, where our 20:1 student/teacher ratio is one of the best in the State University system, and our college Web site emphasizes small class size as one of the many reasons to consider Alfred State.

When faculty here engage in periodic discussions of workload, class size arises repeatedly as a factor that leads both to the success of our students and, unfortunately for faculty, to the need to teach many class sections. (Obviously, the smaller the average class, the more individual class sections are needed to teach the same number of students.) Inevitably, the discussion is cast as a struggle between having high-quality student learning and increasing class size, with the underlying assumption, accepted by all, that these two are mutually exclusive.

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