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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. I'll spare observations on the obvious problems with Weissman's article, like the witless claim that lectures as web video somehow "reinvent" the lecture. The fundamental challenge for U.S. universities as they struggle to contain their costs is figuring out how to teach more students using fewer resources. This is the biggest and most insidious misconception, the one that pervades every conversation about online education. The more we buy into the efficiency argument, the more we cede ground to the technolibertarians who believe that a fusion of business and technology will solve all ills. Here's one: Coursera is marketing. Related:  MOOC Articlesmedia aboutTrends in Training (2014 - ?)

» Napster, Udacity, and the Academy Clay Shirky Fifteen years ago, a research group called The Fraunhofer Institute announced a new digital format for compressing movie files. This wasn’t a terribly momentous invention, but it did have one interesting side effect: Fraunhofer also had to figure out how to compress the soundtrack. The result was the Motion Picture Experts Group Format 1, Audio Layer III, a format you know and love, though only by its acronym, MP3. The recording industry concluded this new audio format would be no threat, because quality mattered most. If Napster had only been about free access, control of legal distribution of music would then have returned the record labels. How did the recording industry win the battle but lose the war? The story the recording industry used to tell us went something like this: “Hey kids, Alanis Morisette just recorded three kickin’ songs! The people in the music industry weren’t stupid, of course. We have several advantages over the recording industry, of course. But you know what?

The Single Most Important Experiment in Higher Education - Jordan Weissmann Online education platform Coursera wants to drag elite education into the 21st century. Now, it's getting buy-in from the academy. (Reuters) As of yesterday, a year-old startup may well have become the most important experiment yet aimed at remaking higher education for the Internet age. At the very least, it became the biggest. A dozen major universities announced that they would begin providing content to Coursera, an innovative platform that makes interactive college classes available to the public free on the web. Founded by Stanford computer scientists Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera is one of a handful of efforts aimed at using the web's cost savings to bring Ivy League-quality courses to the masses. But the deals Coursera announced Tuesday may well prove to be an inflection point for online education, a sector that has traditionally been dominated by for-profit colleges known mostly for their noxious recruitment practices and poor results. We may have the capabilities.

Badges et apprentissages informels, une greffe délicate Voici déjà deux ans que l'Initiative Open Badges (OBI) de Mozilla, soutenue financièrement par la fondation Mc Arthur, fait parler d'elle. C'est d'ailleurs en septembre 2011 que Denys Lamontagne signait le premier article de Thot Cursus consacré à ce sujet. Il y saluait l'important potentiel de ce dispositif en matière de reconnaissance des apprentissages informels. Pour ceux qui prendraient l'histoire en cours de route, voici ce que D. Lamontagne disait dans l'article mentionné plus haut : "Open Badges (Insignes ouverts) est une initiative de Mozilla financée par une fondation américaine. Depuis cette époque, l'intiative a connu un fort développement. Scoutisme et jeux vidéos D'où vient cette idée des badges ? Une autre source d'inspiration, plus récente et sans doute encore plus évidente que la référence au scoutisme, est le monde du jeu vidéo. Badger les apprentissages informels : pas si simple Henry Jenkins fait partie de ceux-là. Références : Jenkins, Henry. Lamontagne, Denys.

Jump Off the Coursera Bandwagon - Commentary By Doug Guthrie Like lemmings, too many American colleges are mindlessly rushing out to find a way to deliver online education, and more and more often they are choosing Coursera. The company, founded this year by two Stanford University computer scientists, has already enrolled more than two million students, has engaged 33 academic institutions as partners, and is offering more than 200 free massive open online courses, or MOOC's. A college's decision to jump on the Coursera bandwagon is aided—and eased—by knowing that academic heavyweights like Harvard, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are already on board. In our haste to join the academic alphas, many of us are forgoing the reflection necessary to enter this new medium. Coursera and its devotees simply have it wrong. Why should we be impressed that an online course can reach 100,000 students at once? Interactivity and customization are the fundamental advantages of online education.

Networks, the rate of profit and institutionalising MOOCs In an excellent article on Technology, Distribution and the Rate of Profit in the US Economy: Understanding the Current Crisis, Basu and Vasudevan scope the connections between falling capital productivity, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and technological innovation. Specifically they argue that the period preceding the current financial crisis in 2008 witnessed a significant and sharp fall in capital productivity and hence in profitability, and that this counteracted the rises that were accrued from the widespread implementation of information technology, techniques of new managerialism and the tendency towards financialisation in the previous three decades. In understanding the changes that are impacting the higher education sector, developing a critique of the relationships between technology and technological innovation, new managerialsm and financialisation, and the impact of structural weaknesses in global capitalism, is critical.

Essay on three key facts on distance education @insidehighered I know! I know! Everyone is sick to death of debating the pros and cons of MOOCs, the massive online courses that, depending on your viewpoint, will be the downfall or resurrection of higher education. Key in determining the effectiveness of a course, both online and on the ground, is how actively it is being taught and how effectively it is engaging students. Educators are creating and tweaking a number of very different learning models to engage students in "active learning," both in the physical classroom and the virtual world – often in intriguing combinations. Based on innumerable conversations with faculty, students, administrators, staff, and the general public, the following are the three most important things I know about the role distance education plays in higher education today and about how to create high-quality programs. Distance education is not a singular thing. On the other side of this spectrum is the very actively taught class.

Open Online Courses: Higher Education of the Future? - Techonomy By Eric Rabkin One instructor’s firsthand look behind the scenes of the movement offering online education to the masses. I am “teaching” a MOOC, one of those massive, open, online courses through which Coursera and, more recently, edX offer people around the globe challenging learning experiences through a simple internet connection: video mini-lectures, machine-graded problem sets in some courses, peer-evaluated essays in others, discussion boards, and more. There’s no cost or credit for the “students” yet, but could this point the way to the “schools” of the future? I would guess that in forty-two years of on-campus teaching at the University of Michigan I have worked with between 12,000 and 20,000 students. Right now, under the auspices of U-M and Coursera, I am offering “Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World” to about 39,000 participants. These people also educate me. Not only do the participants teach each other, they teach me.

escaping the caduceus of technology-fuelled privatisation and student debt When the culture’s drowning in a bad dream/Save myself, save myself and When the old religion is the new greed/Save myself, save myself and They sabotaged the levee, killed gris gris/Save myself, save myself and When the vultures copyright the word free/Save myself, I got to save myself Willy Mason. 2007. Save Myself. I: assertion and the rate of profit In a recent Blackboard Inc newsletter we were informed that: Education is changing and universities face multiple challenges to remain competitive. It’s not enough to simply deliver great courses, they demand more. This narrative has emerged from a relatively narrow set of evaluative spaces, that are not framed through significance testing or modelling, but rather on the structural need for capital to seek out rents or profits from new educational spaces, based on either the reduction in the circulation time of commodities or the creation of new services, applications or information flows. II: the fallacy of problem-solving

The Case of a Spanish MOOC | The FLTmag By Fernando Rubio, Co-Director, Second Language Teaching and Research Center, Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics, University of Utah. After teaching for more than 20 years, I have decided that I really do not care much about teaching. The only thing that I care about is learning. And that is the reason why in the spring of 2013, I embarked in my first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) experience teaching what, to my knowledge, was the first language MOOC ever offered. I saw the opportunity to teach this course as an ideal way to get valuable insight into students’ learning. Geographical origin of enrollments in Canvas Network’s Improving your Spanish Pronunciation My course reached the enrollment cap of 500 a couple of weeks before it started. Active instructor presence: I had the fortune to have two assistants working with me on this MOOC. Spectrogram view in Audacity. Types of participants in Coursera-style MOOCs. It takes a village Gartner’s hype cycle for emerging technologies.