MOOCs on the Move: How Coursera Is Disrupting the Traditional Classroom (MOOCs as if we didn't have enough alphabet soup already!)Published: November 07, 2012 in Knowledge@Wharton During the past decade, the distribution of content over the Internet and its consumption on computers and mobile devices has disrupted several industries -- newspapers, book publishing, music and films, among others. Now education joins that list, thanks to the emergence of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. These courses, which are offered for free to tens of thousands of students, cover topics ranging from artificial intelligence and computer science to music and poetry appreciation. As millions of students around the world flock to participate in MOOCs, universities are being compelled to rethink what it means to teach and to learn in a networked, globally connected world. During the past 18 months, many educational institutions have initiated or joined ventures that can help them explore, experiment in and gradually understand this phenomenon. http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=310...More knowledge@wharton:http://softwaretimes.com/files/knowledge@wharton%2011-07-12....Denny Schlesinger
If the course is delivered free, how does the whole thing get paid for?
If the course is delivered free, how does the whole thing get paid for?ASK A DEMOCRAT! ROFLDenny Schlesinger
Can we at least stick on topic on the investment threads?
They don't know yet. It may be that, after they've determined demand, that they try one of the following:1.) It isn't offered for free--people pay something to play.2.) They offer access/data mining services to recruiters looking for candidates with specific skills from specific courses (i.e. computer programming). I don't know how this will eventually play out with FERPA issues.3.) Companies want their employees to have certain skills--they send them to MOCCs like this to learn them. Lets them pick out the actual curriculum.4.) The courses remain free, and they end up charging to certify the tests. As an aside, at least one university will give credits for certain courses if the final exam is taken in a proctored environment (testing centers like ACT could do well).This is all predicated on the classes being effective as a delivery model (completion vs. enrollment, etc). I know there was an article a bit back about the peer grading process in non-machine-graded courses...and the amount of plagiarism in a non-cost, non-credit, essentially anonymous course.Nomes
Can we at least stick on topic on the investment threads? You certainly may, if you wish. LOL
The demand is established. The state university here recently launched some courses and, if I remember correctly, they got 5 figure enrollments for some classes. Even at $1 per that might be a reasonable return, but there is a big deal about it being free and collecting money introduces a new infrastructure problem.MOOCs are a different context than regular courses, even if they use the same software. I know a community college where they offer a lot of on-line classes, which helps a lot in serving the community. But, there is regular registration, grading, and such that makes it functionally equivalent to a classroom course. With MOOCs, as I understand, it is much more about just dissemenating knowledge to the largest possible community. It is going to be hard to even do any real grading since one has no idea who is one the other end of the wire.
The lady in the video says the courses can be interactive which means they can be graded. I'm sure they can come up with user verification. They grade people who do courses my mail, don't they?Denny Schlesinger
As to demand, I was referring as much to employers/recruiters as much as to students. In this way, it could be more of a Facebook model (with, perhaps, better product), rather than a University model. As to student demand, it will be interesting to see the numbers on completion vs. attempts, as well.The issue is figuring out the scheme for accreditation (what does it mean to have completed a course here) as much as anything else.Nomes
Seems to me that there are two big watersheds here:1. Will the MOOC courses be graded and recorded in a way that allows attendance at a course to mean something beyond personal enlightenment? Clearly, the software being used in many cases is capable of testing, so it is not unthinkable that one could get a grade, but in order to handle, say, 20,000 students in one class, the testing can't be very profound, limiting the depth of the qualification that one could accept. It brings to mind the on-line versions of the drivers courses which one takes to get a ticket erased from one's record ... expectations are low for how much people really take away.2. What are the real channels for monetizing? There are really two players here - the software providers and the course providers. The software provider clearly needs to get paid or they aren't going to participate, so there is a potential investment opportunity if one thinks that one company is going to dominate. I don't yet see any moats, however. The course provider can decide to do a certain amount of this just as a part of their marketing or public service budget, but we need to recognize that courseware development is expensive. Would the astronomical enrollments we see so far be maintained if people started charging? What happens when it becomes more established and thus there are multiple options for nominally the same content?It isn't hard to construct some value propositions here, but there also a lot of speculation related to it really working in a significant monetary way.FWIW, I was project director and coauthor of several self instructional units including computer simulated laboratories which were developed under NSF funding and some parts of which used for a surprising number of years. The unit on genetics was remarkably *better* than typical classroom instruction in not only conveying concepts, but in making students into good scientific problem solvers in the domain ... not the usual result of a unit in genetics! Moreover, teachers reports were that students were better scientific problem solvers and had greater mastery of unrelated domains following the use of our materials. So, I am a big believer in the potential for good on-line, self instructional material ... but I also know personally, how hard it is to do well.
I know a community college where they offer a lot of on-line classes, which helps a lot in serving the community.yep, I know one, too. And... that's the pitch, too - helps a lot in serving the community.The administrations are pushing their instructors to use online, course management systems. It AMAZES me how many of these 'instructors' have merely taken their online teaching philosophies to the online environment, and structured their online courses as they would a face to face classroom. Unbelievable!ralph
You guys might be interested in this.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khan_AcademyRob
but in order to handle, say, 20,000 students in one class, the testing can't be very profound, Why not? If a computer is doing the grading 2 is no more difficult than 1 and 20K is no more difficult than 2.2. What are the real channels for monetizing? How do people make money on free open source software?Denny Schlesinger
I do a lot of online learning, free online learning. I just Google stuff. Google was originally created as an improved method of cataloging knowledge or learned papers and it does a darn good job. Maybe all you need to do is to teach people to Google!Denny Schlesinger
As I thought I said, I know the software is capable of grading as I know people doing it. But, there is a big difference between interactive and grading as well as a big difference between managing the record keeping for a class of less than 100 vs a class of 20,000. One can provide self-testing components of an on-line class which help the student assess whether they have mastered the material or not, but those involve no record keeping. Many on-line classes of the non-MOOC kind also include tests and exercises which are graded by the teacher ... manageable for small numbers, but no for five figures without huge cost. Even if one provides fully automated testing ... which has enormous limitations with some subject matter ... just recording the grades and providing a way for students to reference these for an employer is going to add significantly to the on-going cost of presenting the course. And that brings it back to wondering how all this is going to get paid for.The on-line, fully automated courses for traffic tickets (not that I personally have ever used one) provide a model that can work if the students are paying and doesn't require them to be paying a lot. But, there is a big difference between not much and free.
The issue is figuring out the scheme for accreditation (what does it mean to have completed a course here) as much as anything else.The accreditation, per se, is not an issue since these course are generally offered by established schools, but record keeping is certainly a cost issue.
If a computer is doing the grading 2 is no more difficult than 1 and 20K is no more difficult than 2.The issue is that having the computer do the grading can be difficult for some subject matters. It is fine to present a set of simple questions that can be computer graded for a student to evaluate whether they got the concept and another to meaningfully evaluate the student's mastery when the subject matter is anything beyond mere facts and figures. E.g., in the self-instructional material I did in genetics, there were simple questions with the text material to test basic understanding (with alternate paths and the like), but to make any real test of problem solving mastery I had to develop a computer-simulated laboratory and that was non-trivial development. I'm not saying that it is impossible, but rather that it can be difficult and difficult translates into expensive as well as requiring imagination.How do people make money on free open source software?Mostly by providing paid support. That is often not money going to the people who wrote it and thus is not funding further development.
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