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.

Being a Luddite is an Act of Absurdity

July 12, 2013


(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Very rich unintentional hilarity on MOOCs and the devastation that they will bring.

Go read it now, and when you have stopped laughing and have dried the tears from your eyes, a little Danny Devito refresher course in creative destruction might be in order:

The Way of the Future: Georgia Tech and Udacity Announce $7,000 MOOC Masters Degree

May 15, 2013

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Georgia Tech has partnered with Udacity to provide a $7,000 Masters Degree in Computer Science to 10,000 students. Check it out here. At one-sixth of the usual price for such a degree we are officially moving closer to this prediction:

Imagine if students in Bangladesh could earn a Princeton math degree, or a theology degree from Notre Dame for free, or more accurately for the time, computer and internet cost. The marginal players of the American academy would squeal as they are forced to reinvent themselves from making buggy whips, but this is a small price to pay for bringing opportunity to the world.

The only question in my mind is how long it will be until an elite player has the necessary vision to defect from the comfortable cartel. Several universities have the means to do this, and could receive philanthropic help to do so. Attention Oxford and Cambridge: it wouldn’t require an American university to pull this off. A British university could put out a low-cost version of this, and unlike their American counterparts, they aren’t swimming in resources.

Georgia Tech’s move does not qualify it as the defector, but things are moving quickly and in this direction. The loud noise that just shook the windows was the sound of the higher education cost bubble popping.

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.


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