When I left you I was but a learner, now I am the master

April 24, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Fascinating story about how a high school student in Mongolia aced an MIT EdX MOOC, and then became a student at MIT at age 17 with a research assistant job to help improve MOOCs.

University of Texas System to Join EdX

October 16, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The University of Texas system will be joining EdX today. This makes the lineup the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of California Berkeley and the nine universities of the University of Texas system (it is not clear whether the six health institutions of the UT system will eventually participate). The Texas schools plan to concentrate on general education and introductory courses in developing Massive Open Online Courses.

This is interesting for a number of reasons. First, because EdX has set up a system for third-party administered final exams. EdX not only includes not only two of the nation’s premier private institutions, but also the flagship institutions of the nation’s largest and second to largest states.

Given that the Chronicle of Higher Education story linked to above notes that the UT system is actually paying $5m to join EdX,  they must have obviously considered the decision carefully. I cannot imagine an intellectually coherent argument that any of the UT system schools could muster to deny students credit for successfully completed EdX courses, so the UT system seems to be embracing the future with both arms.

Second, how ironic is it that this announcement comes on the heels of the Supreme Court arguments over UT Austin’s affirmative action policy? Soon people from all over the globe will be taking University of Texas courses, making the scarcity of university spots underlying such policies potentially obsolete, almost certainly less severe.

Finally, the University of Texas system pioneered a system for measuring value added measures under the leadership of UT Board of Regents Chair Charles Miller using a broad test of cognitive skills. To the suprise of approximately no one who graduated from UT Austin that I know, the flagship did not lead the way in value added.

A refinement of this system may allow for a formal evaluation of MOOCs and student learning. I’m willing to bet that they improve student learning.


Colorado State Becomes the First American University to Accept MOOCs for Credit

September 10, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Udasity and EdX have set up a system for proctored final exams for their Massive Open Online Courses. The NYT reports that Colorado State University has become the first institution to accept such a proctored courses for university credit.  The NYT reports that several European universities have already done so. Given that hundreds of thousands of people are taking MOOCs, expect more to follow.

Kevin Carey turned in an interesting report on the Silicon Valley higher-ed tech revolution for Washington Monthly.

Time to switch back to you, K-12 brain…

I’m starting to wonder whether the K-12 Reactionary and the Higher-Ed Revolutionary voices can continue to coexist peacefully inside Carey’s head, but I digress. Massive Open Online Courses are going to productively disrupt both higher education and K-12 while putting a great education at the fingertips of billions.


Free: The Future of a Radical Tuition

July 26, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Some new interesting nuggets from the online learning revolution: Bill Bennett’s feature of Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun notes that when you rank the 20,000 + graduates of Thrun’s massive online open graduate seminar on artificial intelligence that the first in-person Stanford student ranked 411th. In addition, Thrun notes that he has 20 companies lined up to hire Udacity certificate holders.

Today comes word the UC Berkley will be joining forces with Harvard and MIT in the EdX project, and that:

Though it won’t offer college credits, the edX website is expected to give certificates to people who complete courses and to charge for some of those certificates in the future. Birgeneau said that some California community colleges later may use UC Berkeley’s edX courses as part of their regular campus classes that would earn students credits to transfer to a UC.

Higher education inches ever closer to disruption. Institutions must sort through security and other issues, but institutions will have to grant credit for high quality courses that address them. If they don’t, then the monopoly on credentialing people currently held by universities may crumble faster.  The media is likely to focus on the chaos of it, but let’s not take our eyes off the ball: free university training holds the potential to provide opportunities for advancement for billions of people.

It’s difficult to wrap your head around the implications of all of this for higher education and, for that matter, K-12. My feeling is similar to that expressed after second 53 in this clip:

Higher Ed Inches Ever Closer to Disruptive Change

May 3, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Now Harvard is in, teaming with MIT to create the EdX online learning platform. Money quote from the NY Times:

“Projects like this can impact lives around the world, for the next billion students from China and India,” said George Siemens, a MOOC pioneer who teaches at Athabasca University, a publicly supported online Canadian university. “But if I were president of a mid-tier university, I would be looking over my shoulder very nervously right now, because if a leading university offers a free circuits course, it becomes a real question whether other universities need to develop a circuits course.”

No one has agreed to grant university credit for getting through one of these online courses…yet. Stay tuned…