Tag Archives: for-profit

What We Cannot Learn from the Udacity/GT Partnership

Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education features an article by Steve Kolowich about the potential impact of the Udacity/Georgia Tech/AT&T online master’s program on the future cost of higher education:

The program, which started last winter, pairs MOOC-like course videos and assessments with a support system of course assistants who work directly with students. The goal is to create a low-cost master’s degree that is nonetheless “just as rigorous” as the on-campus equivalent—producing graduates who are “just as good,” to quote one of the new program’s cheerleaders, President Obama. The price: less than $7,000 for the three-year program, a small fraction of the cost of the traditional program.

By understanding what kinds of students are drawn to the new program, Mr. Goodman and his fellow researchers think they can begin to understand what competitors it might threaten.

Bringing down the cost of a professional program is an admirable goal, and this specific success could mean a great deal for the target population of this and other professional, graduate programs.  However, the rhetoric surrounding initiatives such as the Udacity/Georgia Tech/AT&T partnership rarely distinguishes between the target population of a professional program and the population at the heart of the crisis in higher education.

One year ago, Udacity pivoted its approach to online learning away from democratizing education for underrepresented learners and toward professional programs (I wrote about the decision at the time).  This pivot was maligned within scholarly EdTech circles for good reason:  Udacity had set its organizational intention at solving the cost problem of higher education, but its product was unable to adequately serve the population it intended to assist.   Continue reading

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MOOCs – the Public/Private Partnership of Higher Education

Ed tech author Audrey Watters wrote one heck of a MOOC synopsis for the movement’s 2012 history and future.  The look back at 2012 hits a lot of the points this blog has attempted (in more words and with less skill), so it was the look forward that piqued me the most:

But as we see some of the unbundling start to occur, it feels as though there is a re-bundling of sorts. That is because, as Foucault would tell you, it is not simply a matter of “revolutionizing” the university and dismantling its “monopoly” on knowledge transfer and credentialing and then BOOM educational access and liberty and justice for all. Power is far more complex than that. As we unbundle assessment from the university, for example, it gets re-bundled with Pearson. As we unbundle the content from the campus classroom, it gets re-bundled with textbook publishers. With MOOCs, power might shift to the learner; it’s just as likely that power shifts to the venture capitalists.

This is a really important consideration, and I am going to take a few steps back in order to go forward. Continue reading

Reviewing Christensen’s Disruptive Technologies (Harvard Business Review, 1995) in MOOC Terms

One of the common citations in xMOOC artifacts and discussion is the idea of xMOOC as a disruptive technology.  The concept, developed by Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen, is tossed into discussion as if it’s vital reading I should already know…none of the authors do more than give a cursory definition to the concept in abstract fashion rather than concrete, and in all of the articles I have read, I don’t see consensus on the definition.  This makes me think several possibilities:  1) this is a concept so integral to this field that I should know all about it and am an idiot for not having a foundational knowledge, or 2) this is a concept not fully understood but thrown out there in a way that sounds erudite but lacks foundation.  I think it’s a mix of both.  As a learner struggling to grasp a topic (my background is in both media and social sciences, not business), the best way is to personally dive in rather than rely on the previews of others.  At the same time, it took those previews to get here, so perhaps this review can help others start to nail out a more complete definition on the topic.   Continue reading

Finishing Up #CFHE12 Week 1 – Economics, Ed Futures, & Bucking Tradition

Finishing up the readings from #cfhe12 Week 1.

  • The Siege of Academe:  A piece on the edtech startups dotting the Silicon Valley landscape, and what they mean (or don’t mean) to the future of higher education as we know it.  The piece comes from the perspective of the innovators (stereotyped here as twentysomethings straight out of East Coast higher ed looking to make it big), and the foundation of the piece is that education is a trillion dollar potential gold mine…for the right company that gets the right product out at the right time.  Most interesting to me was the roll call of existing movements in the field (Udemy, EHighLight, the various xMOOCs), as well as the lack of discussion from anyone involved in educational theory or pedagogy. Continue reading