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Elite education for the masses

Elite education for the masses
They included Patrycja Jablonska in Poland, Ephraim Baron in California, Mohammad Hijazi in Lebanon and many others far from Baltimore who ordinarily would not have a chance to study at the elite Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They logged on to a Web site called Coursera and signed up. They paid nothing for it. These students, a sliver of the more than 1.7 million who have registered with Coursera since April, reflect a surge of interest this year in free online learning that could reshape higher education. The phenomenon puts big issues on the table: the growth of tuition, the role of a professor, the definition of a student, the value of a degree and even the mission of universities. “Massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, have caught fire in academia. “I can’t use another word than unbelievable,” Caffo said. For universities, the word for it is revolutionary. MOOC students, for the most part, aren’t earning credit toward degrees. But it is alluring. Giving it away Related:  Ed Reform

6 Ideas to Avoid the Activity Trap Last week, I wrote about the pitfalls of non-strategic activity in a post entitled, Don’t Confuse Activity with Accomplishment. Most of the leaders I know would admit, we unwittingly find ourselves in this trap from time to time. Or perhaps most treacherous, we find ourselves doing things that add value – but not the highest value. When this happens, we’ve let the good become the enemy of the best. How can we guard our calendars and our lives from these lesser activities? Here are a few ideas that may help. Determine your priorities. Schedule your priorities. Delegate freely. Outsource. Stop doing 2nd tier activities. Reevaluate constantly. The Activity Trap is alluring. The future of learning management People familiar with my blog will know that I’m not a member of the anti-LMS brigade. On the contrary, I think a Learning Management System is a valuable piece of educational technology – particularly in large organisations. It is indispensible for managing registrations, deploying e-learning, marking grades, recording completion statuses, centralising performance agreements and documenting performance appraisals. In other words – and the name gives it away – an LMS is useful for managing learning. Yet while LMSs are widely used in the corporate sector, I suspect they are not being used to their full potential. I think of informal learning. And I wonder how we can acknowledge all of that learning. No – the way we can acknowledge informal learning is via assessment. The assessment need not be a multiple-choice quiz (although I am not necessarily against such a device), nor need it be online. In this way, the purpose of learning shifts from activity to outcome. Enter Tin Can. Enter Plurality.

Uncomfortable Conversations in Education Click to enlarge. In the past week I have read a couple of posts that mention the importance of uncomfortable conversations in education. Having uncomfortable or unpopular conversations is kryptonite for the echo chamber effect that often plagues meetings, conferences, chats and any other space, online and off, that brings people together. In a recent reflection Going Beyond the Converted: Reflections from Edcamp Leadership BC Aaron Akune, Vice-Principal at Delta Secondary School in Ladner B.C asks “Why is it that we continue to repeat the same conversations?” Aaron writes: I’d argue that too often we are afraid to wade into uncomfortable conversations where we may be challenged to justify and defend our positions. Aaron highlights three important points: 1. I think it’s ok that we keep having these same discussions. Our rehashing of decades old topics also suggests that we are still invested and that is a good thing. 2. 3.

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. A central component to these earlier iterations of the MOOC was the dual meaning of “open.” The original MOOCs…were “open” in two respects. These dual characteristics of “open” are also core to Open Educational Resources (OER). One goal of MOOCs is to serve tens / hundreds of thousands more people with high-quality educational content.

AP Classes Are a Scam - John Tierney The College Board earns over half of all its revenues from the courses -- and, in an uncertain environment, students keep being suckered. Fraudulent schemes come in all shapes and sizes. To work, they typically wear a patina of respectability. That's the case with Advanced Placement courses, one of the great frauds currently perpetrated on American high-school students. That's a pretty strong claim, right? The miscellany of AP courses offered in U.S. high schools under the imprimatur of the College Board probably started with good intentions. Sounds pretty good. Interestingly, the evidence providing the clearest positive argument for AP participation is that high performance in AP courses correlates with better college grades and higher graduation rates, especially in science courses. My beef with AP courses isn't novel. AP courses are not, in fact, remotely equivalent to the college-level courses they are said to approximate. The college admissions process today is a total crapshoot.

40 Useful Tips For Anyone Taking A MOOC As these resources have grown in number and the list of institutions providing them has become ever more prestigious, free online courses are gaining legitimacy with employers as a method of learning valuable job skills. While there’s still a long way to go in terms of acceptance, more and more employers are recognizing the value of cheap, effective educational programs that can keep employees up-to-date and engaged in their field without spending a dime. Whether you’re looking to online education for personal reasons or to get ahead in your career, use these tips to help you get more out of open courses and use what you learn to market yourself, improve your performance, and stand out on the job. Treat them like real classes . If you really want to take away a lot from a free online course, then don’t treat it any differently than you would a course you’ve paid to take.

The End of Education As We Know It By Scott Barry Kaufman Imagine being 6 or 7 years old again, learning about addition and subtraction for the first time. How wonderful would it be, while taking a quiz, to be able to rub a genie’s bottle and choose from a number of on-the-spot metaphors for mathematical concepts, like what a fraction really means? Rather than working through equations in daunting rows on a sheet of paper, your task is to play a game on a tablet computer in which you share a dinner table with aliens. These examples may seem charming and even silly—and they’re meant to be. The new wave of educational tools include fresh ways of deploying phone and tablet apps, online games and videos, and social networking. “We should try to bring back the joy of learning because you want to learn, not because someone is going to give you a grade at the end of the semester,” Schocken said in a recent interview. No Wrong Answers All of this engagement on a huge scale has resulted in rich and copious data. Flipping the Lesson

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. Largely lost in the conversation around MOOCs is the different ideology that drives what are currently two broad MOOC offerings: the connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs?) Our MOOC model emphasizes creation, creativity, autonomy, and social networked learning. He offers this diagram to detail the distinctions: MOOCs are a platform

Get Ready For America’s Next ‘Education Crisis’ - Jeff Bryant “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” has become a popular mantra of the ruling class. Of course, these are not the people who usually experience the brunt of a crisis. But a pervasive narrative in the mainstream media is that Americans are a people beset by near-continuous crisis, whether it’s the fake crisis of a looming “fiscal cliff” or a real crisis like Frankenstorm Sandy that still has many Northeasterners inexplicably living in the dark in unheated homes. Arguably no sector of American society has been cast with the narrative of crisis as much as public education. And the fever pitch is about to go higher. Something’s Rotten In The State Of Kentucky Just prior to the November election, an article in the education trade journal Education Week broke that Kentucky had gotten bad news back from its most recent round of school tests. Disappointing results from a state test is not usually an occasion to stop the presses. Business Loves A Crisis Crisis material for sure.

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