Posting in Design
'Ivy League Spring' disruption of higher education continues to spread, even toppling university presidents
The recent 'Ivy League Spring' -- which is disrupting the very top echelons of higher education -- is spreading, and even toppling university presidents. The movement is gaining converts as more universities seek to get on board with free, online global classrooms.
It is now reported that Coursera, a startup built around the global classroom business model, announced partnerships with an additional 12 top universities, bringing the total to 16.
One of the new partners is the University of Virginia, which just recently removed -- but subsequently reinstated -- its president, Teresa A. Sullivan, reportedly over accusations that she was slow to move the university into the global online learning space.
SmartPlanet colleague Charlie Osborne recently reported that MITx -- the open online platform built by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- is now rolling out courses, with an emphasis on greater interaction between students (no matter how many there are) and instructors.
Along with the University of Virginia and its original partners -- Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and the University of Michigan -- Coursera is also partnering with Johns Hopkins University, University of Toronto, University of Illinois, University of Washington, CalTech, Rice University, Duke University, University of California San Francisco, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Edinburgh, and Ecole PolyTechnique Federale de Lausanne.
Coursera is the brainchild of Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, who developed the university's first online education platform, which served two courses and had a total enrollment of about 200,000. Coursera also recently received $16 million in venture capital funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates.
VentureBeat's Christina Farr spoke with Ng, who observed that has surprisingly "been little resistance from current students and academic bureaucrats so far," since many courses that required enormous tuition payments to access are now available to anyone for free.
Course offerings now come from the following areas:
- Biology & Life Sciences
- Computer Science: Programming & Software Engineering
- Economics & Finance
- Health and Society & Medical Ethics
- Statistics, Data Analysis, and Scientific Computing
- Business & Management
- Computer Science: Systems, Security, Networking
- Humanities and Social Sciences
- Medicine and Veterinary Science
- Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Vision
- Computer Science: Theory
- Electrical and Materials Engineering
- Information, Technology, and Design
- Physical & Earth Sciences
(Photo: Princeton University Office of Communications.)
Jul 17, 2012
At one level it's potentially exciting and noteworthy that all these courses are available free. But it's not yet clear that the trend passes the "so what?"test. After all, almost everything about every subject listed in the article has long been freely available in--are you ready?--the library. Furthermore, the "Great Courses" company has offered top notch courses in audio and video form for years. The digital environment can offer more flexibility, assessment, and branching to match student understanding better than older fixed formats, but it remains to be seen how well that will play out in terms of student learning. I think a key will be the extent to which these courses can address the failing of many earlier attempts-failure to recognize the fact that humans are fundamentally social animals. We know that technology can be extremely social, but we'll have to see if the kind of social interactions conducive to learning difficult content can be built into courses enrolling hundreds or thousands of individuals. One way would be through differentiated staffing, which might reduce costs, but not eliminate them. Of course there will be some students who will learn some subjects through self-motivation. There may be a secondary tier of services built around the on-line courses. There are some existing models for that, too. Then, the remaining question centers around credentialing and general acceptability of the learning credential. It is a fascinating time in education, and I don't doubt that technology will be a major disruptive force. Is this the long sought mass individualization of teaching and learning, or at least the major opening stage? My answer has to be a strong "maybe".
These types of courses are new, but in my opinion, peer to peer review is huge. A class I took at college (physical college) encouraged peer to peer grading, and we were in agreement that it was the best learning experience we had. i've seen that https://iversity.orgreally encourage this for the MOOCs, and you also have a lecturer, TAs, and top students guiding the rest in a constructive way. This allows MOOCs to scale and offer decent pedagogical learning systems. They are not intended to be the death of the university-they compliment them.