Is Sebastian Thrun’s Udacity the future of higher education?

William Bennett, U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush interviewed Sebastian Thrun about Udacity and participation in the Stanford AI MOOC, reporting on CNN.

He explains the interest in the AI content and how they have now launched 11 additional STEM courses available in the same MOOC format. They are partnering with US companies to encourage them to employ people with Udacity certificates and doing more extensive checking on in-person testing centers to verify identities and knowledge.

“I asked Thrun whether his enterprise and others like it will be the end of higher education as we know it — exclusive enclaves for a limited number of students at high tuitions? “I think it’s the beginning of higher education,” Thrun replied. “It’s the beginning of higher education for everybody.”

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Can Free Online Courses Transform the Higher Education Industry?

Knowledge@Wharton provide their take on higher education, MOOCS and change. They report on a participant of the AI Stanford course who got a job in machine learning shortly afterwards. They look back at online education initiatives in recent years and wonder if this is different

Why might Coursera or another of the new enterprises succeed where others have failed? For one, the technology has evolved. Video and audio are crisper. Desktop sharing tools and discussion boards are easier to navigate. There is greater access to Internet libraries. Course developers also have a more nuanced understanding of how people learn online and the best ways to present information in that format. Coursera, for example, slices lectures into digestible 10- or 15-minute segments and provides online quizzes as part of each section. Professors answer questions from students in online forums. This is a vast improvement from previous online education ventures that offered a less dynamic learning model where students watched canned lectures, with no interaction.

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Free online courses at Harvard and MIT

Seniors Aloud proving that there is never a time to stop learning – excited by the new opportunities presented by MOOCs.

For older adults and retirees keen on going back to school again, this news is heaven-sent. With an empty nest at home and time on their hands, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to acquire new knowledge and prevent the brain from getting rusty.

If you think that your age might pose an obstacle to learning, look at Dr Allan Stewart a former dental surgeon from Australia. Last Friday he obtained his fourth degree – Master in Clinical Science (Complementary Medicine) at the ripe old age of 97!!!  He currently holds the world record for being the oldest graduate.

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Will MOOCs Promote Superstar Teaching Over Superstar Research At Princeton And Other Ivy Universities?

Paul Glader suggests that with the current MOOC hype attracting large numbers of students, that there will be a renewed focus on teaching rather than research.

Kevin Carey sees MOOCs setting up a power struggle between the two coasts of knowledge power – the West Coast, Silicon Valley-based tech sector and the DC to Boston corridor of Ivy League and elite colleges. “I’m not sure who will end up running the place,” he says. “Colleges don’t have a monopoly on expertise

Paul also notes critiques of MOOCs that question whether knowledge is democratized through these types of offerings.

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Math MOOC – Coming this fall. Let’s Teach the World

Keith Devlin of Stanford University is on a mission to educate the world with a five week Maths Mooc this autumn. He reflects on the experiences of his colleagues who have set up Udacity and Coursera following the activity in their Moocs. He wants to develop a community of others who are also running Maths courses at that time of year to connect with each other

Learning is all about human interaction. The technology just provides the medium for that interaction. In offering my math transition MOOC at the start of the fall term, when many colleges and universities offer their own transition course, I am inviting any instructor who will be giving such a course, together with their students, to join me and my MOOC students online, making interaction with other students around the world a part of a much larger learning community

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Thirsting for knowledge, try a Mooc

The Atlantic reports on MOOCs – looking at the offerings from EdX and Coursera and wonders about sustainability of these models.

While classrooms or campuses are not going away, the nature of a classroom is evolving.  Sometimes they will be physical places, and sometimes they will be virtual. Some students will experience both at the same time, while others will alternate between different modes of learning at various times in their lives, depending on their needs.

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The Big Idea That Can Revolutionize Higher Education: ‘MOOC’

Laura McKenna in The Atlantic reports on the MOOCness that is starting to sweep across higher education where she reviews Coursera and Edx, noting that they are similar to Khan Academy. They are looking at removing the need for human beings to moderate and grade discussions and assignments.

Multiple choice tests can be easily graded using technology, but essays, the most accepted form of assessment for the humanities and the social sciences, have proven to be trickier. It would be impossible to hire enough people to grade the essays for a class that served 20,000. At Coursera, three engineers worked for two months on creating a system similar to Amazon Mechanical Turk for peer evaluation. This program will launch in about a week. EdX will use essay-grading software.

Discussions are moderated by peers who “vote” good comments up on the discussion board. Bad comments and spam are pushed to the bottom of the discussion threads by voters.

After the videos are created, the assignments are written, and the initial kinks are ironed out, Koller expects that these courses should be self sustaining and run on auto-pilot.

The funding models for Coursera and Edx are both slightly different.

She neglected to mention the history of MOOCs which can be found at http://www.mooc.ca/

MITx and the (Automated) Future of Higher Education

Justin Marquis looks at whether MOOCs are bringing forwards a teacherless classroom by looking at the current MITx initiative. Whilst the course plans seem fairly standard, the analysis is fully automated.

He provides a detailed look at the benefits of large scale implementations of these model but notes that this does not provide universal access:

Simply put, if an individual lacks a computer or compatible portable device, Internet connectivity, or even electricity, they cannot use free online educational resources, regardless of how groundbreaking  and well-designed those assets are. In order to take advantage of innovative educational opportunities such as MITx, people must be able to access and use them. This is still a significant obstacle both globally and in the U.S.

 

 

Students Across Globe Can Take Online Courses at U.S. Universities

Louise Fenner reports on the increasing trend in major US universities to offer MOOCs to students everywhere, noting a previous trend of open courseware that was introduced a decade ago.  A familiar MOOC format is outlined, first introduced in 2008 and a look at the importance of accreditation from a major university – will these have credibility with employers?

“To what extent will people try to use the statements of accomplishment as a credential to show employers, and how do the employers weigh them? I think only time will tell.”

Digital certificates and badges that indicate competency in a subject or skill “are only as good as whoever’s issuing them,” Culatta said. “If it’s an organization or group that carries some weight, then these certificates will really mean something.”

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#change11 Getting to know you: introducing Jaap Bosman

Contributed by Liz Renshaw

Photo of Jaap smiling I would like to introduce you to Jaap Bosman. Jaap lives in the North West of the Netherlands in a polder built in 1930. 😉

It is 4 metres below sea level. At university Jaap studied Pedagogy and majored in the Philosophy of Science. He has been teacher, trainer and a book publisher.

Jaap is now the editor an educational site called Kennisnet at http://about.kennisnet.nl . Kennisnet is the public educational organisational that supports and inspires Dutch primary, secondary and vocational institutions in the effective use of ICT. Jaap’s speciality is soft skills: http://softskills.kennisnet.nl/

Jaap says that as an editor

I am always looking for inspiration and information and that is why I am in the MOOC

Jaap finds abundance of information is not a bad thing. He sees it as a blessing and chooses and selects the resources he needs for his job.

Jaap believes that building a network or PLE means that you must be trustworthy and send messages of value. Also he likes to ask questions. He sees it as being human and recognises the importance of answering questions, responding and adding personal messages.

He finds that most of his friends and people he connects to are using Twitter and Facebook so as an editor he uses these tools to communicate.

In the Change Mooc  he found that some presenters did excite him but he was really happy with his fellow students. Jaap’s post on this topic can be found at [http://connectiv.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/change11-teacher-roles-and-mooc/.

If you follow Jaap’s blog you will see that he always uses pictures.  His pictures are always intriguing and leave readers pondering their meaning and connection to the writing.

He believes that pictures are important. Words can tell a story, but pictures [http://jjbs.wordpress.com/] will tell so much more. Jaap’s minor at university was was “Images and words” a combination course of literature, arts and history of arts.

I would like to thank Jaap for agreeing to provide a profile for our Blog Calendar.