Nanodegrees Disrupting Higher Education

Nanodegrees in higher edLearning whatever, whenever, wherever, however will be the way people will learn  in the future. I foresee an unimaginable big smorgasbord of learning opportunities customized to the learner needs. This Campus Technology article describes how new “micro” online certification programs are changing the educational pathways to success in certain industries. Change is coming and higher education cannot avoid it.

Tutoring – a new online service for MOOCs

A new Silicon Valley start-up is an online marketplace where students, parents and tutors can set up academic sessions. The average hourly rate for tutors is $11 an hour — a much lower price point than professional tutoring services that go for more like $50 an hour.

Tom Friedman on MOOCs

From the NY Times March 6th: Tom reflects on a recent Conference at M.I.T. and Harvard on “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education”. His takeaways:

  • We are moving to a more competency-based world, where there will be less interest in how you acquired the competency — in an online course, at a four-year-college or in a company-administered class — and more demand to prove that you mastered the competency.” YES!
  • “… strong consensus that this “blended model” combining online lectures with a teacher-led classroom experience was the ideal.” YES!
  • “The world of MOOCs is creating a competition that will force every professor to improve his or her pedagogy or face an online competitor.” YES!
  • Bottom line: “There is still huge value in the residential college experience and the teacher-student and student-student interactions it facilitates. But to thrive, universities will have to nurture even more of those unique experiences while blending in technology to improve education outcomes in measurable ways at lower costs. We still need more research on what works, but standing still is not an option.” YES!

Worth reading several times…

California Universities Experimenting with MOOCs for Credit

It seems the university business model is finally evolving to engage more learners and be more inclusive (formally).

San Jose State University announced an unusual pilot project with Udacity, a for-profit provider of the massive open online courses, to jointly create three introductory mathematics classes. The courses will be free online, but students who want credit from San Jose State will be able to take them for just $150, far less than the $450 to $750 that students would typically pay for a credit-bearing course. The University of California system may eventually decide to work with MOOC providers as well: Leaders of Udacity and Coursera, another for-profit MOOC company, were scheduled to appear before the university’s Board of Regents this week.

MOOC’s for Credit (the most most-viewed IHE story last month)

From Inside Higher Education:

“Coursera, the largest provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), has entered into a contract to license several of the courses it has built with its university partners to Antioch University, which would offer versions of the MOOCs for credit as part of a bachelor’s degree program. The deal represents one of the first instances of a third-party institution buying permission to incorporate a MOOC into its curriculum — and awarding credit for the MOOC — in an effort to lower the full cost of a degree for students. It is also a first step for Coursera and its partners toward developing a revenue stream from licensing its courses”.

Read more:

iPodia – Another MOOC, But this Time, Global

USC Dean of Engineering Yannis Yortsis describes this new MOOC: “It is global engineering education in a classroom to which access is enabled through technology.”

The iPodia Alliance, which is a global partnership between the engineering schools at USC, Peking University, National Taiwan University, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, India Institute of Technology in Mumbai, Technion Israel Institute of Technology and RWTH Aachen University in Germany. In this alliance, the respective universities contribute students, instructors and course material. Interactivity, teams of peers, no exchange of funds or tuition and fees (hence no financial motive), and modern pedagogy make iPodia different than other, current experiments in distance learning, such as MOOC (Massive On-Line Open Courseware) or the EdX initiative. The attached report provides iPodia.viterbi.usc a brief explanation of the program.

More on MOOCs: ACE to Evaluate 5 COURSERA Courses (Washington Post)

In one of my last blogs I spoke about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Coursera, the Mountain View, CA based organization is one of them. They offer an online platform for about 200 classes from 34 universities such as Princeton, Duke and Stanford.

One of the questions I posted (assessing learning) is now being addressed by the American Council on Education (ACE).  Yesterday, Coursera announced that ACE will evaluate 5 of their courses to find out if students can earn credits (credit equivalency). Individual universities would decide to grant credit to students who complete such classes… “but a stamp of approval from ACE would likely go a long way toward persuading at least some U.S. institutions to do so.” So this could mean that eventually the more than 1.8 million Coursera students can get their learning recognized.

More at:

Do You Know What are MOOCs and How They Can Affect Higher Education?

I have to be honest… when an HP colleague with tremendous knowledge and experience in higher education and teaching/learning mentioned the word ‘MOOC’ I did not know what he was talking about. So, humbly I asked. He said, what is revolutionzing higher education now. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses, a form of distance education that is offered free of charge or at very low fees. These courses started only a couple of years ago (you may have heard about them through my blog posts or the media). MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Harvard and Purdue courses are some universities offering MOOCs.  More recently, a number of MOOC-type projects have emerged independently, such as Coursera (a for profit spinn-off from Stanford), Udacity (a private educational organization), edX (a not for profit spinn-off of MIT and Harvard). The prominence of these projects’ founders, contributing institutions, and financial investment helped MOOCs gain significant public attention in 2012.

So, what does this mean for higher education? To me, it means, for one, that higher education programmatic and business models have started to change (finally, after hundreds of years!). The most important stakeholder in higher education, the learner, wants a learner-centric education using technology. It also means that higher education will be serving more than a handful of students,  finally enhancing its role in society by making it more accessible to thousands, millions, not to benefit themselves.

Yet, there are many unanswered questions regarding this new emerging model: How will students develop the skill (not the knowledge) necessary for the job they will undertake? How will these courses be accredited by the home institution? How will student learning be assessed? Can all courses be offered this way?  Can whole degrees be completed with MOOCs? What will the role of faculty be? Universities? Experiential learning? How will research be done? How will industry value the new learning models and its outcomes?….

I don’t think MOOCs will go away, so stay tune for more developments and the answer to these issues!