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Curated content on higher education presented by the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP).
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MOOCs - A Tsunami of Promises

MOOCs - A Tsunami of Promises | SCUP Links |
The prediction was that MOOCs will completely change the game in higher education. Enthusiasm was general - and groupthink so tempting - that many universities across the world adopted them as a pa...
Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

Interesting point:

The solution to deliver good quality higher learning to all enlightened the imagination of many. The narrative was fantastic: the door to what Time called “High-End Learning on the Cheap” was discovered and new startups and venture capitalists were there to fight to open it for the benefit of the poor around the world. Thomas Friedman argued in 2012 that “nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty” than Silicon Valley solutions and MOOCs will “unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems“.

There is no doubt that rising inequality is a huge problem for the world. This is why is important to remember here that Silicon Valley makes San Francisco one of the most unequal cities in the US. The fact is that the Silicon Valley solution is not working at home, and American politicians make public calls to find answers. A set of important questions should be raised about any set of solutions coming from the same place where education for all or homelessness stay unaddressed and are on the rise (The Guardian reports that in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley “92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind“).

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Survey finds online enrollments slow but continue to grow | Inside Higher Ed

Survey finds online enrollments slow but continue to grow | Inside Higher Ed | SCUP Links |

"Annual survey finds that enrollments in online courses and programs grew at 9.3 percent rate, lowest level in a decade -- and that campus officials don't know what to make of MOOCs."

Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

Good story by Doug Lederman, with some excellent sharts and graphs. He concludes:

Among other highlights of the survey:

  • Nearly 7 in 10 chief academic leaders (69.1 percent) now say that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy. And just 11.2 percent say it is not.
  • More than three-quarters (77.0 percent) of chief academic officers rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face courses, up from 57.2 percent when Babson first asked the question in 2003.
  • Fewer than a third (30.2 percent) of CAOs believe that faculty members on their campuses accept the value and legitimacy of online education -- lower than the rate in 2004.
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Massive Open Online Courses Prove Popular, if Not Lucrative Yet | NYT

Massive Open Online Courses Prove Popular, if Not Lucrative Yet | NYT | SCUP Links |
New companies are partnering with universities to offer online courses, in an effort that could define the future of higher education — if anyone can figure out how to make money.
Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

“'Monetization is not the most important objective for this business at this point,' said Scott Sandell, a Coursera financier who is a general partner at New Enterprise Associates. 'What is important is that Coursera is rapidly accumulating a body of high-quality content that could be very attractive to universities that want to license it for their own use. We invest with a very long mind-set, and the gestation period of the very best companies is at least 10 years.'

But with the first trickles of revenue now coming in, Coursera’s university partners expect to see some revenue sooner."

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'I Am Not a Machine': An Education Dean Reflects on MOOCs - SCUP's Planning for Higher Ed Mojo

'I Am Not a Machine': An Education Dean Reflects on MOOCs - SCUP's Planning for Higher Ed Mojo | SCUP Links |

Dan W. Butin is an associate professor and founding dean of the school of education at Merrimack College. He begins, "[S]ometimes, late at night when I cannot sleep, I wonder if I am doing [my students] a disservice. Maybe, just maybe, if I were a machine, the class would be better."

Which raises the question: What do I offer that cannot be done by a MOOC? Why should students roll out of bed, get dressed, drive 10 miles through rush-hour traffic, desperately try to find a parking spot on campus and get stressed that they might walk in 10 minutes late for my 9 a.m. class?

It is certainly not for the content knowledge. Somebody out there surely knows a heck of a lot more about John Dewey or Paulo Freire than I do. And it is not for that all-too-fuzzy “human connection” of getting to know your son or daughter. Many faculty have 30 or more students in each course of the three or four or five courses they teach each semester. There is no way I’m going to truly get to know your child no matter how hard I try. And I’m not even talking about the 300- student lecture hall.

Rather, what the college classroom truly offers is an apprenticeship into thinking. 

But is that enough?

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Your Massively Open Offline College Is Broken

Your Massively Open Offline College Is Broken | SCUP Links |

"The end game is degrees that are little more than receipts for work done elsewhere. Empire State, Excelsior, Thomas Edison, all these institutions and more convert a loose set of credits into a diploma, without much of anything resembling a curriculum. A kid named Richard Linder just figured out how to get an Associates Degree by stitching together 60 credits from 8 separate institutions, not one credit of which was earned in a college classroom. (Fully a quarter were from various forms of FEMA certification.) Linder gets an A for moxie, but it doesn’t say much for the institutions nominally policing educational coherence.


This vitiation of the diploma is Goodhart’s Law in action, where a socially useful metric becomes increasingly worthless, because the incentives pushing towards adulteration are larger than those pushing towards purity. This is not some bad thing that was done to us in the academy. We did this to ourselves, under the rubric of ordinary accreditation, at nonprofits and state schools. Yet I've never once heard the professors fulminating about MOOCs also suggest shutting down Excelsior College. In the academy, we are terrible at combating threats from the current educational system, but we are terrific at combating threats to it.

The thing to understand about the current conversation is how bad things were, for how many students, long before organizations like University of the People ever launched. In the academy, we’ve been running a grey market in unsupervised internships and larger and larger lectures for a generation already. MOOCs threaten that market."

Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

Did you see what he did there, in that title?

Provocative prose from one of the most renowned Internet observers, Clay Shirky.

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MOOCs, Outsourcing, and The Cloud: Where are Institutional Missions? | Tracy Mitrano

"There is a potential slippery slope, however, because combined with the other headlines of the day -- alternative careers for historians and new models for MLA publishing -- it should not take long before Coursera not only negotiates licenses with academic institutions but with intelligent, savvy, marginalized trained faculty, i.e. the Ph.D.s who do not get the tenure track jobs.  If a critical mass of learning moves towards the MOOCs model, I am not sure who among that crowd will have the last laugh, but administrators, from presidents to deans and departments chairs and traditional faculty, will probably not be amused.

We -- higher education -- really need to be thinking very carefully about these developments.  First, as is noted in the article in which I made the initial suggestion about centralized planning and foundational thresholds, the contract is king.  What are the terms exactly?  They have been published and are available for everyone to see.  What impact do those terms have on not merely the bottom line of our colleges and universities but on our sense of obligations as a not-for-profit institutions of teaching, research and outreach in U.S., if not global, society?  Higher education is the most important public good we have.  In the name of meeting this year's fiscal budget, let's not throw its future to the wind."

Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

Tracy Mitrano's got a good point, what are all these contracts and agreements about MOOCs—and, as she puts it, outsourcing the institution's core function—doing in terms of unintended consequences? Is anyone paying attention, with regard to institutional mission and vision?

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Are you ready to MOOC? A conversation with George Siemens

Are you ready to MOOC? A conversation with George Siemens | SCUP Links |

18:29 – A lot of the burden is on the learner. Are learners ready? (See also Preparing Adults for Lifelong Learning.) How well prepared is the average adult to filter the massive flow of information?

19:30 – Human beings are naturally “meaning makers.” George cites Pirolli on information foraging. We categorize, we connect.  That’s not new. But now the flow of information is at a pace that we can’t cognitively handle anymore – and probably haven’t been able to for a century or more. Past methods simply don’t work.

Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

A worthwhile podcast, with an abbreviated transcript.

Kate Maclean's curator insight, December 30, 2012 6:31 AM

I have receb

ntly taken part in a CLD miniMooc, hosted by Aberdeen University. I am very excited by the potential of this learning tool, especially as I work in a widely-scattered geographic area (the Highlands of Scotland). I believe the developer (Ramone Bisawi) was going to send me a 'how to set up a Mooc' factsheet, as I have colleagues in tourism and equalities who are interested. keep up the good work!