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See on Scoop.it - Knowmads, Infocology of the futureMichael Cusumano, a professor at M.I.T., raises doubts about the ultimate cost to the education field of massive open online courses, or MOOCs.
That the acronym MOOCs rhymes with “nukes” seems apt. Massive open online courses, or MOOCs — led by two profit-making start-ups, Coursera and Udacity, founded by entrepreneurial Stanford professors — are a new disruptive force in education. Leading universities have scrambled to join or offer alternatives like edX, a collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and others.
The MOOCs movement has been greeted with equal parts enthusiasm and angst. The MOOC champions predict a technology-fueled revolution in the distribution and democratization of high-quality education. The MOOC skeptics have a variety of qualms, but especially about what is lost in the retreat of face-to-face teaching — a point eloquently made by Andrew Delbanco, a professor of American studies at Columbia University, in an article in the current New Republic, “MOOCs of Hazard.”
Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T., raises a different issue in an essay published this week: the economics of MOOCs and the implications.
His article appears in Communications of the ACM, the monthly magazine of the Association for Computing Machinery, and he had circulated a version of it earlier to his M.I.T. colleagues. After reading it, L. Rafael Rief, M.I.T.’s president, asked Mr. Cusumano to serve on a task force on the “residential university” of the future, including online initiatives.
“My fear is that we’re plunging forward with these massively free online education resources and we’re not thinking much about the economics,” Mr. Cusumano said in an interview.
The MOOC champions, Mr. Cusumano said, are well-intentioned people who “think it’s a social good to distribute education for free.”
But Mr. Cusumano questions that assumption. “Free is actually very elitist,” he said. The long-term future of university education along the MOOC path, he said, could be a “few large, well-off survivors” and a wasteland of casualties.
See on bits.blogs.nytimes.com
If you wonder why your university hasn’t linked up with Coursera, the massively popular provider of free online classes, it may help to know the company is contractually obliged to turn away the vast majority of American universities.
The Silicon Valley-based company said to be revolutionizing higher education says in a contract obtained by Inside Higher Ed that it will “only” offer classes from elite institutions – the members of the Association of American Universities or “top five” universities in countries outside of North America – unless Coursera’s advisory board agrees to waive the requirement.
The little-known contractual language appears in agreements Coursera signs with the 62 universities it partners with, including in a recently signed contract with the University of California at Santa Cruz, one of a handful of non-AAU universities on Coursera.
» via Inside Higher Ed
The Finnish government surprised itself by creating a school system that produces very well-educated students, when all it set out to do was create equal educational opportunity. Eliminating the barriers to success — including poorly-paid teachers, educational competition, and private schools — turns out to be huge.
The answers Finland provides seem to run counter to just about everything America’s school reformers are trying to do.
For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what’s called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.
Instead, the public school system’s teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.“Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.” - Pasi Sahlberg
As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. “There’s no word for accountability in Finnish,” he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. “Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.”
For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master’s degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal’s responsibility to notice and deal with it.
And while Americans love to talk about competition, Sahlberg points out that nothing makes Finns more uncomfortable. In his book Sahlberg quotes a line from Finnish writer named Samuli Paronen: “Real winners do not compete.” It’s hard to think of a more un-American idea, but when it comes to education, Finland’s success shows that the Finnish attitude might have merits. There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.
Finally, in Finland, school choice is noticeably not a priority, nor is engaging the private sector at all. Which brings us back to the silence after Sahlberg’s comment at the Dwight School that schools like Dwight don’t exist in Finland.
“Here in America,” Sahlberg said at the Teachers College, “parents can choose to take their kids to private schools. It’s the same idea of a marketplace that applies to, say, shops. Schools are a shop and parents can buy what ever they want. In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same.”
Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.
In the Finnish view, as Sahlberg describes it, this means that schools should be healthy, safe environments for children. This starts with the basics. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.
In fact, since academic excellence wasn’t a particular priority on the Finnish to-do list, when Finland’s students scored so high on the first PISA survey in 2001, many Finns thought the results must be a mistake. But subsequent PISA tests confirmed that Finland — unlike, say, very similar countries such as Norway — was producing academic excellence through its particular policy focus on equity.
That this point is almost always ignored or brushed aside in the U.S. seems especially poignant at the moment, after the financial crisis and Occupy Wall Street movement have brought the problems of inequality in America into such sharp focus. The chasm between those who can afford $35,000 in tuition per child per year — or even just the price of a house in a good public school district — and the other “99 percent” is painfully plain to see.
This message will be nearly impossible for the educational policy folks in the US to assimilate, simply because it cuts across so many US biases. Just the example of eliminating a competition-focused culture, where everything is evaluative in supposedly ‘objective’ ways, but which restricts teachers and student’s actual inquiry into subject matter and tailored learning.
New findings based on more than 20 years of research suggest that despite decades of controversy, elementary school teachers now feel fine placing students in “ability groups.”
The research, out Monday from the centrist Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on American Education, finds that between 1998 and 2009, the percentage of fourth-grade teachers who said they created ability-based reading groups skyrocketed from 28% to 71%. In math, between 1996 and 2011, the practice rose from 40% to 61%. The practice remained fairly constant in eighth-grade math, rising from 71% to 76%. Data for other eighth-grade subjects was incomplete or inconclusive.
Most low-income students who have top test scores and grades do not even apply to the nation’s best colleges, according to a new analysis of every high school student who took the SAT in a recent year.
The pattern contributes to widening economic inequality and low levels of mobility in this country, economists say, because college graduates earn so much more on average than nongraduates do. Low-income students who excel in high school often do not graduate from the less selective colleges they attend.
Only 34 percent of high-achieving high school seniors in the bottom fourth of income distribution attended any one of the country’s 238 most selective colleges, according to the analysis, conducted by Caroline M. Hoxby of Stanford and Christopher Avery of Harvard, two longtime education researchers. Among top students in the highest income quartile, that figure was 78 percent.
» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)
Online education may have arrived at the upper echelons of higher education, but it’s not going to make elite colleges any cheaper to attend.
Massive open online courses and other online tools, however, may change many aspects of top undergraduate campuses. That was the conclusion of a private summit, held here on Monday and sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, at which many of online education’s heaviest hitters discussed the future of residential higher education, particularly at elite institutions, in a digital age.
After years of standing by while the online wave gathered momentum at lower-tier institutions, MIT and Harvard last year gave online education a $60-million bear hug by collaborating to found edX, a nonprofit MOOC provider that could also serve as a laboratory for studying the dynamics of virtual classrooms.
The universities made it clear then that they intended to use their MOOCs to improve, not supplant, traditional courses.
» via The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription may be required for some content)
Employers value a four-year college degree, many of them more than ever.
Yet half of those surveyed recently by The Chronicle and American Public Media’s Marketplace said they had trouble finding recent graduates qualified to fill positions at their company or organization. Nearly a third gave colleges just fair to poor marks for producing successful employees. And they dinged bachelor’s-degree holders for lacking basic workplace proficiencies, like adaptability, communication skills, and the ability to solve complex problems.
“Woefully unprepared” is how David E. Boyes characterized the newly minted B.A.’s who apply to his Northern Virginia technology consulting company.
» via The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription may be required for some content)