• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

The education bubble

Not open for further replies.
Using the school system for indoctrination rather than education has always been a pet peeve of mine (I spend an awful lot of time deprogramming the kids when they get home; remind me to tell you how I trew the science teacher for a loop when I helped my daughter point out ways to reduce human CO2 output....).

The long term efect is probably going to be to put parent's backs up and give them incentives to seek alternatives to publicly funded schools which push this nonsense. Home schooling, charter schools and provate schools will benefit, and the next ripple efect will be lots of parents wondering why they are funding public schools when they are teaching their children on their own or their own dime...


Alternative classrooms may not be as inclusive as they claim to be
Kathryn Blaze Carlson  Jan 27, 2012 – 10:47 PM ET | Last Updated: Jan 27, 2012 10:57 PM ET

Rachel Adelman’s Israeli son never clicked with the traditional education system, so when the family moved to Canada, she was drawn to an alternative public school that promised an intimate setting where students could express themselves freely; a school “based on the principles of participatory democracy and social equity,” as the school advertised itself.

She learned soon enough, though, that those promises of open-mindedness and equality “sounded nice,” but that the reality in the hallways would nearly cost her son his sense of self.

Eitan, then 17 years old and described by his mother as shy, came home from his first day at Toronto’s Student School in a “state of dismay,” his mother said.

“He said, ‘Ima [Hebrew for mother], the walls of the school are plastered with posters saying Israel: Apartheid State,’ ” said Professor Adelman, who now teaches at the Harvard Divinity School, referring to flyers mounted by a pro-Palestinian student club.

At the first all-school assembly, the students were shown Occupation 101, a controversial film that has been accused of portraying Israel as equivalent to Apartheid-era South Africa. Prof. Adelman said the school’s administrator defended the showing, saying the school had a policy of allowing students to voice their ideological bents. Two months later, Eitan switched schools.

But The Student School is just one of several Canadian schools that have moved “social justice” education onto the timetable. In launching nine alternative academies last week, one of this country’s boldest education directors touted “social justice” education as a way for children to gain social status and self-esteem. Proponents also say the approach teaches tolerance and respect for diversity — that it grooms socially conscious students prepared to fight against injustices they see in their communities.

‘What social justice really means is trying to create some sort of egalitarian system. That’s a political standpoint — it’s basically socialist’
— Frank Furedi

Unlike lessons about long division or photosynthesis, however, there are competing versions of what “social justice” actually looks like — and about which vision of it should end up on school curricula. That has left some parents and education advocates increasingly uncomfortable with the trend of trying to teach a subject that, virtually by definition, aims to challenge dominant cultural values. It can often, then, end up crossing into the kind of ethical and ideological instruction that has traditionally belonged at home.

“I worry about confusing the idea of teaching children about a just society with teaching a political viewpoint,” said Annie Kidder, executive director of People for Education, a parents’ advocacy group focusing on the public school system.

Yet school officials have not exactly shied away from putting a distinctly progressive stamp on their social justice programming. In one of its teaching guides, the B.C. Department of Education says social justice “extends beyond the protection of rights” and aims for a “just and equitable society.” Teaching equality in society, it explains, includes teaching ways we can all “attain the same achievements.”

In its 2010 Social Justice Action Plan, the Toronto District School Board defines social justice as a “specific habit of justice that is based on the concepts of human rights, equity, fairness and economic egalitarianism.” One prominent education magazine in the U.S., meantime, characterized social justice education as “teaching kids to question whoever happens to hold the reins of power at a particular moment.”

But certain education experts also question whether grade schools are even prepared to confront the challenges inevitably associated with social justice education. In New Brunswick, one Grade 4 teacher drew ire for trying to impart moral values by asking students to decide in 10 minutes or less who they would save if the Earth were about to explode — an Acadian francophone, a Chinese person, a black African, an English person or an aboriginal. The director of the district’s school board said at the time he believed the teacher aimed to send a message on racial tolerance.

In Ontario, one school sent Grade 1 students home with day-planners that highlighted an “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” and “International Day of Zero-Tolerance on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.” A school board superintendent said the aim was to “promote conversation between our students” but admitted it should have happened in a more “sensitive and age-appropriate manner.”

Last year, another Ontario school sent Grade 7 students to a protest hosted by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, a notoriously confrontational activist group that advocates militantly for economic equality. Several years ago, the head of the coalition was arrested after a bloody protest at the provincial legislature, where demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails and bricks at police and demanded more action on social housing.

In Quebec, one eco-friendly elementary school excluded a six-year-old boy from a teddy-bear contest because his lunch box contained a plastic bag rather than a reusable container.

“That’s an illegitimate use of the school’s authority,” said British sociologist Frank Furedi. “It’s not up to the schools to determine the behaviour and values of the family. A child’s education should not be confused with politicization, nor is it about internalizing the values of their teachers.”

The debate over the boundaries of a public school education is not new, with policy-makers and parents holding myriad views on how far teachers should tread into the realm of character education, ethics, justice and civic engagement. But it flares up particularly, and most vividly, whenever a particular parent accuses a particular teacher of directly contradicting the values the family teaches at home.

“We’re almost trying to do too many things at school,” said Doretta Wilson, executive director of the Society for Quality Education, a Waterloo, Ont.-based non-profit working to improve education in Canada. “School becomes the social manipulator rather than the place that says, ‘Let’s make sure kids learn the fundamentals when they’re in primary school so they can go on to learn and think for themselves.’ Sometimes schools force-feed a perspective. As a parent, it feels like that sometimes.”

However, Charles Ungerleider, a sociology professor at the University of British Columbia and former B.C. deputy minister of education, thinks it’s important that schools get into teaching ethics and values because that is “one of the strengths of schooling in a democratic society.”

“Parents are the primary educators of their kids and the primary communicators of values,” he said. “But the reason that we send children to public school is, in fact, to develop and inculcate the values we all share and to overcome any limitations a parent may have in exposing kids to alternative points of view.”

But while the idea of human rights may be a prevailing Canadian value, there is a gulf of difference between how some of us interpret it: whether or not the Israelis are denying Palestinians their human rights; whether or not Ottawa is denying First Nations theirs. Equality sounds inoffensive enough, until it raises more divisive questions about affirmative action or if it starts meaning equality of outcomes, instead of just equal opportunities.

“What social justice really means is trying to create some sort of egalitarian system,” Mr. Furedi said. “That’s a political standpoint — it’s basically socialist. If you want to sign up for it then that’s fine, but it’s not something that children should automatically be exposed to. Their parents never asked that their children be indoctrinated with that kind of ideology.”

What The Student School saw as “diversity” — tolerating even views hostile to Zionism — Ms. Adelman said seemed more like anti-Semitism.

“I was upset that the principal didn’t see that [the portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict] needs to be more balanced, and that he and the school had clearly taken a side on the issue,” she said of the principal, who was eventually investigated by the school board and is no longer listed as staff on the school’s website.

Ms. Kidder said teachers hold personal views just like anyone else, making it inevitable that their own biases will influence their lessons. “Maybe not when you’re teaching two plus two equals four,” she said. “But nearly everything after that may have some kind of value-based context or spin.”

Danielle McLaughlin, a director at the Canadian Liberties Association and Education Trust, a non-profit research and educational organization, said sinister headline-grabbing stories on social justice gone awry have actually had a “chilling effect” on some teachers who fear angering parents. She said many Ontario teachers are surprised to learn, too, that the province’s Education Act explicitly says it is a teacher’s duty to instill in children a respect for “the principles of Judeo-Christian morality and the highest regard for truth, justice, loyalty, love of country, humanity, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, purity, temperance and all other virtues.”

While Catholic schools have long taught their version of social justice in the classroom — service to others, for example — public schools across the country have launched courses such as Social Justice 12, which was introduced as an elective in B.C. in 2008 and broached issues of homophobia and gender identity. When 90 students signed up for the class at W. J. Mouat Secondary school in Abbotsford, it was cancelled three weeks before it was to begin, reportedly over complaints from parents in the conservative community. A year later, it was brought back with the condition that students needed parental consent to attend.

Last week, a Prince Edward Island public school district was the subject of controversy for handing out Bibles to Grade 5 students unless their parents opt out of the practice. One father told the local CBC that he should be held responsible for his child’s belief system, not the school.

“There are certain values we all respect — the sort of Golden Rule ‘do unto others’ type thing,” Ms. Wilson said. “But ultimately, I believe parents should have the decision-making power over what values their children learn.”

National Post
• Email: kcarlson@nationalpost.com
More on the pros and cons of the post campus educational system:


Envisioning a Post-Campus America
By Megan McArdle

MIT is going to offer certificates for completion of low-cost online coursework, an offering the university is calling MITx.  Stephen Gordon ponders the implications:

Now, imagine a personnel manager at a mid-sized corporation who's looking for an employee with some particular knowledge. There are two candidates: one with an appropriate college degree from the local state school, a second with relevant MITx certificates. Let's say all other things between the candidates are equal. Which should the manager choose?

Given the caliber of professor at MIT, the online student may have learned just as much. The candidate who went to college probably enjoyed his experience more, but the potential employer is unlikely to care about that. Finally, there's the financial reality: To some extent, the student debt of the job candidate dictates his salary requirements. If the MITx candidate has the knowledge required and far less student debt, he probably can be hired more cheaply. Ultimately, the cheaper option will win.
I've seen a fair amount of speculation along these lines.  I'm probably more skeptical than most of the boosters, however.  When I was in business school, I saw opportunities for disruptive innovation everywhere--in autos, in groceries, in education.  Since then, I've watched a lot of disruptive innovations get killed or co-opted by incumbents, or undermined by features of the market that weren't immediately obvious to an outside observer.  (Why can't we just order perfectly customized cars online the way we do computers?  Because dealers have a lot of political pull at the state and federal levels, and because the economics of auto plants make it hard to shut down or start up lines in order to follow demand.)

I can see all sorts of factors that might combine to preserve the status quo, from signaling and status and networking, to the desire of college students for a four-year debt-financed semi-vacation.  On the other hand, disruption never looks inevitable until it suddenly is--if you'd told someone in 1955 that GM was going to have its lunch eaten by some Japanese upstart, they would have laughed until the tears came.  So it's interesting and maybe even useful to contemplate what the college system would look like if this sort of distance learning becomes the norm.

1.  Education will end up being dominated by a few huge incumbents.  As we see with Facebook and Twitter and, well, almost everything, the internet offers huge returns to scale, and substantial network effects.  There's a big benefit to having learned stuff the same way as the people around you--not least, that they understand what a given certificate means.  To offer a small example, during my time at the University of Chicago's business school, every class was curved to a 3.25.  Most other business schools don't curve, and as a result, Northwestern, our nearest competitor, had an average GPA of something like 3.8. 

Someone at Chicago who had a 3.4 GPA was slightly better than average.  Someone at Northwestern who had a 3.4 average was kind of a screwup.  This didn't matter unless your interviewer had gone to a different school--but if they had, you were apt to find yourself explaining that no, really, that 3.5 wasn't as bad as it looked.  Which sounded like whining, even to us.

I would expect that economies of scale and network effects would compress the number of schools to a few--or at least, a few within each specialty.  The winners might be the early-moving incumbents like MIT and Stanford, or they might be some dark horse who takes advantage of the disruption to rearrange the current status hierarchy.  But either way, I'd expect to see a few schools dominating, while many go out of business.

2.  Online education will kill the liberal arts degree.  Let's not have the same dismal discussion of whether liberal arts degrees are awesome or useless.  The important aspect for this discussion is that what they teach is hard to test efficiently.  There's enormous variation in grading of, say, English papers, and even if it were easier to standardize, that grading requires hours of expensive labor.

3.  Professors (course developers) will be selected for teaching instead of research brilliance. The brilliant theorist who drones his way through two courses a year while his students fantasize about stabbing themselves in the eardrum with a plastic fork so they can't hear the boring anymore . . . that chap will have no place in the online future.

4.  95% of tenure-track professors will lose their jobs.  Or perhaps I should say, 95% of tenure-track jobs will be eliminated; I have no idea if things could change fast enough to knock current professors out of work.  But if online education really becomes ubiquitous, very few professors will be needed to produce all the education.  Oh, don't get me wrong--at the school level, the workforce will still be enormous.  Probably bigger than it is now, for the schools that win.  But that will be offset by all the schools that close.

5.  The corollary of #4 is the end of universities as research centers.  As I've noted before, tenured academics has worked a great scam.  They've managed to monetize peoples' affection for regional football teams, and their desire for a work credential, and then somehow diverted that money into paying academics to work on whatever they want, for the rest of their lives, without any oversight by the football fans or the employers.  While I'm sensitive to the complaints of conservative critics, I think that by and large, it's a very good thing.  But it's not a viable business model in cyberspace.

We might see much of academia revert to an amateur past-time, as it was in the 18th and even the 19th century.  Work with policy implications would likely move to think tanks or consultancies; and I assume that a lot of basic science would continue to be funded by the government, perhaps renting out the labs of defunct universities.  On the other hand, I'd assume that folks like English professors will have a very difficult time getting funded to do much of anything.  And before the English professors attack, this is not a commentary on your value to society, just my personal assessment of where the bulk of the funding dollars seem to be.

To get funding in the e-future, research will have to be relevant.  More specifically, it will have to strike someone with a lot of money at their disposal as relevant.

6.  Young job-seekers will need new ways to signal diligence.  I'd expect to see a lot of free labor in the early years, something like what aspiring writers and visual artists already do with their blogs.  There will be more freelancing, more try-out employment, and more unpaid internships.

7.  The economics of graduate school will change substantially.  I'm not sure what would happen to the master's and professional degrees--would there be a market for intense, focused instruction in small class groups?  Medical school yes, law school probably, social work . . . um, as long as the government requires it, I guess.

But the PhD would be radically upended.  Right now, graduate students get miserly stipends in exchange for considerably easing the teaching and research loads of their professors.  But in an online model, we won't need so many teachers.  And the online schools will not necessarily be research centers any more.

The implication is that most students, especially outside of STEM, will have to pay for their PhDs.  Which should, at the very least, take care of the oversupply problem.

8.  Civil society will have to substitute for the intense friend networks that are built at college.  I'm not sure what form this would take--college-age students joining the Elks?--but something will have to substitute.  Or perhaps people won't separate from their high school friends as much as they do now.

9.  The role of schooling in upward mobility will change.  This is kind of a cop-out, because I'm not sure which way the change runs.  I can tell a story where eUniversities make it radically easier for smart, poor kids to advance in their spare time.  I can also tell a story where education is very complementary to the kind of personal networks and social capital that middle-class kids can tap through their parents.  For poor kids who can get there (and stay there), college provides a lot of education on how to socialize with other college students, and of course, expert professionals who can help you find a job if you ask for help.

10.  The young will have a much lower financial burden in their 20s.  That's hopefully going to translate into more investment, and more risk-taking, which is great for everyone.

11.  The tutoring industry will boom.  While tenured professorships will go away, there will be lots of opportunity for those who can help an online student pull through a rough spot. (At least until computers learn to do this too).

12.  If the credentials become valuable, cheating will be a problem.  I'd expect online test-taking to eventually shift to test centers like the ones where the GMAT and various professional licensing exams are administered now.

Overall, I think it's very clear that people will have more opportunity to access education, but much less clear how that education will translate into opportunity, particularly for those who weren't born to successful, educated parents.  And except for a few superstars, I think the shift would be unequivocally bad for tenured professors.  The corollary, however, is that it would be unequivocally good for the legions who are lured into grad school by the chimera of a tenured professorship.

Would it be good for society as a whole?  I tend to think that it almost always is when things get cheaper.  But we will have to rethink how we fund important research, and quite possibly, about what the engines of mobility will be for strivers who start out in the bottom quintiles.
This article available online at:


For the CF, an overhaul of the DP learning will have to be done so it is more rigerous (People attending PLQ Mod 1-3 not knowing MofI staples like ICEPAC? Really?), and the job of the Section Commander and 2I/C in garrison might evolve into hands on instruction and mentoring on a much greater scale than today (see the section on the explosion of personal tutoring).  Bricks and mortar will still be important for the skilled trades (how will mechanics learn to fix a LAV without tools and a workshop), so garrison living will be like an extended stay at a vocational institution (i.e. trade school).

OTOH, this might work well in our favour since it will be much easier to pick out motivated people and quick learners, a large portion of PER's can be generated from on line class data (classes attended, marks, number of attempts at particular items etc.). Lots of things to think of, and I only hope *we* are not blind sided by this as an institution.
From the National Post. Canadian grads without any useful skills but carrying big debt loads will be a big drag on Canadian society for decades to come (and this at a time we have a shortage of skiled workers and tradesmen, and need to lift our national productivity greatly to generate the wealth to cover a trillion dolars of debt and unfunded liabilities):


Matt Gurney: University students borrowing their way into unemployment
Matt Gurney  Feb 22, 2012 – 2:44 PM ET | Last Updated: Feb 22, 2012 5:10 PM ET

According to a recent survey of what jobs are in demand, and what students are studying in university, many, if not most, of today’s university students are spending good money — probably borrowed money at that — to get themselves a university degree that will prove essentially useless to them the instant they graduate. As Ontario’s manufacturing sector has evaporated, the economy has become such that new graduates have basically three options — a highly skilled professional career (including, perhaps, learning a trade), a low-paid job in the service industry or working for the government. And if you haven’t been paying attention, that last option isn’t looking so hot these days. So what is the smart kid, in their late teen or early 20s, to do? Sadly for them … not what they are doing.

A report by the Toronto Region Research Alliance finds that many students in Canadian universities go into their post-secondary education with hopes of a career in medicine or business. But in the Toronto region, there are only limited spots available for those jobs — and way too many graduates coming out every year, looking for work. For example, the report estimates that in 2012, there will be 6,531 new jobs available for graduates with business and commerce degrees, to be fought over by almost 16,000 graduates. It’s even more lopsided for medicine — barely 3,000 new jobs are forecasted for the current year. Almost 11,000 students will graduate with relevant degrees. Graduates from teacher’s colleges are also having a hell of a hard time finding any open positions. And keep in mind, estimates for the average level of education debt held by Canadian students upon graduation hover around $27,000 each.

Meanwhile, Toronto will need almost 10,000 IT specialists this year. Less than 4,00 will graduate.

Given how slowly the economy is growing, and the pressure being felt by health-care budgets, these medicine and business grads are unlikely to be snapped up any time soon. So if we can’t address the demand issue, why not go after supply? A great place to start would be giving every student who goes into university, or post-secondary education, a mandatory reality check. Instead of Frosh Week, we can call it Future Debt-Ridden Unemployment Week.

Mandatory classes, say in the final year of high school, about student debt, the costs of an education and how long it takes to pay off those debts, given reasonable compensation in their preferred field, would be a great place to start. This would let students make informed decisions about the value of an education — not the fluffy emotional value of making new friends and discovering the joys of binge drinking, but the literal value — how much financial return they can reasonably expect to make on their investment of tens of thousands of dollars.

Employment figures like the ones in the Toronto Region Research Alliance report are a good place to start such a conversation, but then there’s also what the B.C. Securities Commission found last year. Their report showed that Canadian students entering into post-secondary education have wildly unrealistic expectations of what their short-term income potential will be. The average estimate made by these students as to how much they’ll be making within 10 years, when they’re in their late twenties, was $90,000. The actual median income figure for that age group is barely a third of that — $31,648 per annum.

During the Occupy Toronto movement, I met with a lot of young adults, who did not meet the typical stereotype of the left-leaning protester. Many told stories of having always followed the best advice of people they trusted — parents, teachers, guidance counsellors — only to find themselves overeducated, underexperienced, with no job prospects and mounting bills. They felt betrayed, and that was driving their anger. In that, they had a point. And just last week I spoke to a group of university students who will soon be graduating. They are realizing now that their arts degrees might not be enough to land a job, but they’re already paid for. Perhaps this explains the rising trend of Canadian college courses for a particular skill or trade being attended by students who have already paid for a university degree that gave them no competitive edge in the job market.

Individual circumstances will always count for a lot in getting ahead in life. And individual responsibility for one’s development is still the most important ingredient for success. But we owe it to the youth of today to make sure they have the knowledge and financial planning tools to make good decisions about their future before they embark on the expense, in both time and money, of pursuing a university career that turns out to be a path straight to the closest unemployment office.

National Post
Education is big business. do you really think all the Universities and Colleges are going to stop painting a rosy picture to their future paycheques?
Peter Schiff, known for predicting the 2008 collapse of many of the "too big to fail" businesses, with an interesting perspective.


I thinking offering to do a $35,000 job for $15,000 is a bit of hyperbole... but the rest is probably pretty accurate.
A look at another alternative learning model:


No Financial Aid, No Problem. For-Profit University Sets $199-a-Month Tuition for Online Courses

Of his tuition pricing for New Charter University, the educational entrepreneur Gene Wade says: "This is not buying a house. This is like, do I want to get cable?"
By Marc Parry

It's a higher-education puzzle: Students are flocking to Western Governors University, driving growth of 30 to 40 percent each year. You might expect that competitors would be clamoring to copy the nonprofit online institution's model, which focuses on whether students can show "competencies" rather than on counting how much time they've spent in class.

So why haven't they?

Two reasons, says the education entrepreneur Gene Wade. One, financial-aid regulatory problems that arise with self-paced models that aren't based on seat time. And two, opposition to how Western Governors changes the role of professor, chopping it into "course mentors" who help students master material, and graders who evaluate homework but do no teaching.

Mr. Wade hopes to clear those obstacles with a start-up company, UniversityNow, that borrows ideas from Western Governors while offering fresh twists on the model. One is cost. The for-profit's new venture—New Charter University, led by Sal Monaco, a former Western Governors provost—sidesteps the loan system by setting tuition so cheap that most students shouldn't need to borrow. The price: $796 per semester, or $199 a month, for as many classes as they can finish.

"This is not buying a house," says Mr. Wade, co-founder and chief executive of UniversityNow. "This is like, do I want to get cable?"

Another novelty: New Charter offers a try-it-before-you-buy-it platform that mimics the "freemium" model of many consumer Web services. Anyone can create an account and start working through its self-paced online courses free of charge. Their progress gets recorded. If they decide to pay up and enroll, they get access to an adviser (who helps navigate the university) and course specialists (who can discuss the material). They also get to take proctored online tests for course credit.

The project is the latest in a series of experiments that use technology to rethink the economics of higher education, from the $99-a-month introductory courses of StraighterLine to the huge free courses provided through Stanford and MIT.

For years, some analysts have argued that ready access to Pell Grants and federal loans actually props up colleges prices, notes Michael B. Horn, executive director for education at Innosight Institute, a think tank focused on innovation. That's because institutions have little incentive to charge anything beneath the floor set by available financial aid.

"Gene and his team are basically saying, the heck with that—we're going to go around it. We think people can afford it if we offer it at this low a price," Mr. Horn says. "That could be revolutionary."

Yet the project faces tall hurdles: Will employers value these degrees? Will students sign on? And, with a university that lacks regional accreditation right now­—New Charter is nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council, and is considering seeking regional accreditation—will students be able to transfer its credits?

Mr. Wade banks on appealing to working adults who crave easier access to education. When asked who he views as the competition, his reply is "the line out the door at community college." In California, where Mr. Wade is based, nearly 140,000 first-time students at two-year institutions couldn't get into any courses at all during the previous academic year, according to a recent Los Angeles Times editorial about the impact of state budget cuts.

Mr. Wade himself benefited from a first-class education, despite being raised without much money in a housing project in a tough section of Boston. Growing up there, during an era when the city underwent forced busing to integrate its schools, felt like watching a "train wreck" but walking away unscathed. He attended high school at the prestigious Boston Latin School. With assistance from Project REACH, a program to help Boston minorities succeed in higher education, he went to Morehouse College. From there his path included a J.D. from Harvard Law, an M.B.A. from Wharton, and a career as an education entrepreneur.

The 42-year-old founded two earlier companies: LearnNow, a charter-school-management outfit that was sold to Edison Schools, and Platform Learning, a tutoring firm that served low-income students. So far, he's raised about $8 million from investors for UniversityNow, whose New Charter subsidiary is a rebranded, redesigned, and relocated version of an online institution once called Andrew Jackson University.

Breaking a Traditional Mold

To build the software, Mr. Wade looked beyond the traditional world of educational technology, recruiting developers from companies like Google. Signing up for the university feels more like creating an account with a Web platform like Facebook than the laborious process of starting a traditional program—in fact, New Charter lets you join with your Facebook ID. Students, whether paying or not, start each class by taking an assessment to establish whether they're ready for the course and what material within it they need to work on. Based on that, the system creates a pathway to guide them through the content. They skip stuff that they already know.

That was part of the appeal for Ruben Fragoso, who signed up for New Charter's M.B.A. program three weeks ago after stumbling on the university while Googling for information about online degrees. Mr. Fragoso, 53, lives in Albuquerque and works full time as a logistics coordinator for a solar power company. The Mexican-born father of two earned a bachelor's degree 12 years ago from Excelsior College. With New Charter, he mostly teaches himself, hunkering down in his home office after dinner to read and take quizzes. By week three, he hadn't interacted with any other students, and his instructor contact had been limited to a welcome e-mail. That was fine by him.

He likes that he can adjust his schedule to whatever fits—one course at a time if a subject is tough, or maybe three if he prefers. His company's education benefits—up to $5,000 a year—cover the whole thing. With years of business experience, he appreciates the option of heading quickly to a final test on a subject that is familiar to him.

"You don't have to sit there and read every single lesson, or do every single project, because the base is already there," he says.

At New Charter, even students who don't end up paying offer value to the university. That's because, behind the scenes, the Web site hoovers up data about what they clicked on and how they behaved. That data is used to help serve the next person with a similar profile—to diagnose them faster and recommend the right learning resources.
Quebec students are in for a real shock indeed:


Quebec’s university students are in for a shock
MARGARET WENTE | Columnist profile | E-mail
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, May. 01, 2012 2:00AM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, May. 02, 2012 7:18PM EDT

It’s a little hard for the rest of us to muster sympathy for Quebec’s downtrodden students, who pay the lowest tuition fees in all of North America. Even if the government has its way – no sure thing if the Parti Québécois gets back in power – they’ll still have the lowest tuition fees in North America. The total increase would amount to the cost of a daily grande cappuccino.

Students in Quebec are like no others, we’re told. We need to understand that tuition fees are not the real issue. The real issue is social justice. The real issue is the promise made during the Quiet Revolution that universities would eventually be free. The real issue is the fight against the ruling class, the greedy corporations, the tar sands, and the entire capitalist, neo-liberal elite. Of course, since universities actually do cost money, somebody will have to pay. Who? The greedy corporations!

The most militant protest group, the CLASSE (whose handsome spokesperson, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, has become a celebrity on French TV), has lots of other ideas about social justice. It wants a boycott of Israel’s “apartheid regime.” It wants courses, lesson plans and reading lists to be “feminized.” It wants an end to free trade. You get the idea.

According to Pierre Martin, a political science professor at the University of Montreal, Quebec’s students dwell in a world of their own. They neither know nor care what’s happening in the rest of Canada. “The Quebec education system is a distinct system in the sense that very few students would contemplate the option of going elsewhere,” he said on As It Happens. “The system is very self-contained.” Now I get it: The kids are on another planet.

In fact, Quebec’s students have good reason to be furious. They should be furious at the professors who tell them that their cause is just, and who have deluded them into thinking that social justice can be achieved if only the greedy corporations are brought to heel. They should be even more furious at all the adults in the government and education establishment who have fooled them into thinking that the education they’re getting will equip them to thrive and prosper in the world.

The truth is, the education they’re getting is overpriced at any cost. The protesters do not include accounting, science and engineering students, who have better things to do than hurl projectiles at police. They’re the sociology, anthropology, philosophy, arts, and victim-studies students, whose degrees are increasingly worthless in a world that increasingly demands hard skills. The world will not be kind to them. They’re the baristas of tomorrow and they don’t even know it, because the adults in their lives have sheltered them and encouraged their mass flight from reality.

A university degree is no longer an automatic ticket to a decent job and a pleasant living. According to a devastating story by The Associated Press last week, more than 50 per cent of recent university graduates in the United States are either unemployed or working in jobs that don’t require bachelor’s degrees. They’re more likely to work as “waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined.”

Canada, too, is awash in soc and psych majors. And soc and psych majors who refuse to venture beyond their comfort zone – linguistic, geographical, or ideological – face even dimmer prospects. Someone should have told them that by now. Sooner or later, they’ll find out, and it’s going to be a shock.

Now contemplate a time in the not so distant future when the rest of Canada decides it can no longer afford to subsidize these students, or interest rate shocks make the model unsustainable (controlled or unco0ntrolled drawdowns). Even the market for baristas will dry up under those conditions. Expect Greek style "protests" against the new self induced reality.
Journeyman said:
Awesome, awesome line.  :nod:

It reminds me of a recent discussion, here on Army.ca, about the value of/need for a degreed officer corps. Fifty year ago a high school diploma was sufficient for a young person to enter, say, banking - at the very bottom - and aspire to be an executive; I know at least one person who did that. It was, equally, possible for a high school graduate to enter the CF - at the bottom of the officer corps - and aspire to be a flag or general officer; and I know more than one person who did that. Now, in two generations, we have a society that relegates a degree in, say, history to being equipped only to work in Starbucks. While I agree that some - far too many - degrees fall into the "vicims studies" domain and are intelectually empty, the "liberal arts" should still teach critical thinking. We don't need a world chock full of engineers, accountants, doctors and mathematicians; we need some people to tell us "why," instead of just "how."
Sadly, most Liberal Arts students or graduates that I encounter do not know critical thinking (getting a self education in that was a long painful process for me and I am by no means there yet). This is the same question that I asked on the other thread on having a degreed officer corps; is a degree or credential necessarily the best way to ensure the candidate is able to be a critical thinker?

Looking around the library, I see "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence", which had the interesting thesis that traditional Western military culture supports and reinforces certain mental traits which are actually detrimental to operating in a fluid battlefield environment. Even quite intelligent officers can be trapped by rigid thought patterns and processes (the commander of Singapore was apparently one of the most outstanding cadets of his generation at Sandhurst, for example, yet he totally discounted the idea the Japanese could attack Singapore on the landward side...) The students in Quebec are certainly in an environment which is not encouraging critical thought.

Now does this mean that the best way to assess potential candidates is some sort of psychological test series? Probably not, since a flexible mind still needs a grounding in facts and analysis. Still, it points to important considerations outside of simple credentialism when selecting candidates for leadership or management roles.

In the face of an increasingly empty education system, I think many institutions may be attracted to some of the self learning models upthread since it is a positive predictor if a candidate was motivated enough to get a series of courses on line to gain a basic grounding in a subject. They may also go back to past practice; I recall reading that Boeing essentially ran an OJT/apprenticeship internally to raise people from the drafting rooms to become trained and qualified engineers.
Drifting even further off topic ...

I disagree, quite strongly, with the whole Psychology of Military Incompetence thesis. Neither Percival (Singapore) nor Maltby (Hong Kong) were incompetent, neither was even a "bad" general; neither did what was expected hoped but both were faced with extraordinary situations that, simply, got the better of them. Singapore was well designed to be defended ... from the sea, but the Japanese didn't follow London's plan; Hong Kong was not designed (or manned) for any kind of defence, but scapegoats explanations are necessary for the mothers and Percival and Maltby were blamed. Don't get me wrong: neither did as well as he might have, perhaps could have, but neither was anything like incompetent.

My favourite in the psychology of military incompetence rubbish is Haig. He was a good, solid, perhaps a tiny bit too stolid general who told his political masters the unvarnished truth; when the situation unfolded as he suggested it would the politicians, and the people - perhaps especially the Canadian people, looked around for someone to blame. There was plenty of blame - most of it in Paris, but Haig was unpopular: blunt, apparently unfeeling in an era that had begun to migrate towards Bill Clinton and "I feel your pain" - and so the blame settled on him. He wasn't a bad general; he just had a lousy press agent.

My impression is that most modern generals, begining with, say, Bernard Montgomery and Maxwell Taylor, lack "bottom:" that mix of robustness, stoicism, honesty and courage (physical and moral) that one needs to make hard decisions, give brutal orders and get up the next morning to do it all again. Looking at our generations, people like William Westmorland and David Petraeus seem to me more like puff pasty, play actors sent to reassure the people that "there is light at the end of the tunnel." I have a great deal of trouble putting e.g. Petraeus on the same intellectual or professional plane as, say, Wavell. Petraeus and most others seem smart, in a very media savy way, but not tough and not, really, intelligent. Where is a modern Wavell to tell us about generalship or a modern Haig to tell us, bluntly, how this long, long war will unfold?

Amongst Canadians I will reaffirm that we only ever produced one great commander: Leonard W Murray - head and shoulders the best Canadian to ever wear a lot of gold on his cap. Murray is the only Canadian to have ever made a significant contribution, at the highest levels, to an allied victory. (Arthur Currie was a good combat commander but he commanded just one of dozens of corps on the Western Front; a case can be made that Robert Leckie and few other senior RCAF officers made a vital contribution to victory through the British Commonwealth Air Traing Plan - and they did, but it's not in the same league as Murray and the Battle of the Atlantic.) But Murray probably was, according to the psychology of military incomeptence theorists, incompetent. Why? Because he was very unpopular - with his colleagues in Ottawa and with his political masters. Why? He told them the truth: a harsh, unvarnished truth about how tough the most important strategic battle in the history of the British Enpire was going to be; and because he didn't suffer fools at all, and Ottawa was full of them - Mackenzie King, Andrew McNaughton and Percy Nelles (Chief of the Naval Staff) amongst them. In fact it was Murray's unpopularity, not his operational ability or acumen that caused his downfall as soon as the war was safely won. Why was he good? Why was he unmpopular? Same reasons: he was tough, choleric, honest and brave but also blunt and very private, perhaps even shy. In any event he was our best ever and he simply doesn't fit the pyschology of military incompetence model, neither would the Duke of Wellington, or George C Marshall I suspect; I conclude the model is wrong.

Edit: spelling  :-[
The one thing that stuck in my mind about the example of Singapore in the book isn't that the planners in London had only considered invasion by sea, but that General Percival not only discounted reports that the Japanese were coming by land, but until almost the last possible moment actively discouraged his subordinates from working on the landward defenses.

Since there is no question that General Percival was a smart man, there must be some explanation why he refused to look at the mounting evidence of a Japanese landward invasion, or prevented his subordinates from taking action.

Moving back towards the topic, one of the issues with the current education bubble is determining if the credentials gained from going to university are actually worth anything. STEM graduates should be considered to be educated in their fields, since there is an objective standard to measure their activites against (although there is nothing to stop a STEM graduate from believing in nonsense outside of his field of study). Since the given rational for the humanities is to train the student for critical thinking, then there should be some sort of testing mechanism to determine if the student can indeed think in a critical manner. What that might be is not clear to me...
I accept that helping smart and/or motivated people get an education provides benefits for society as a whole. What doesn't seem worthwhile is giving the dumb and/or lazy a facsimile of one.

It is like the mortgage bubble: helping people who can make the payments get a mortgage can have wider benefits. Giving people who can't make the payments mortgages creates a bubble of demand that then collapses leading to widespread harm.

DBA said:
Giving people who can't make the payments mortgages creates a bubble of demand that then collapses leading to widespread harm.

... which is responsible for much of the financial mess we're in now.
Disaggregation such as discussed here will make courses vastly cheaper and more accessable (Quebec students take note). What we need to think about in the CF is how we will accredit courses from such a wide range of sources. It is also possible to imagine serving or ex members of the CF creating courseware for potential candidates (DP 1.1 online primer!), it may well be impossible to police that kind of thing.

I will still stand by my prediction that "brick and mortar" schools will be needed for the STEM disciplines.


This Is The Way The Higher Education Bubble Ends…
Posted By James Carmine On May 16, 2012 @ 9:00 am In College,Technology | 32 Comments

Recalling T.S Eliot’s The Hollow Men, “not with a pop but a fizzle.” The higher education bubble ends with inevitable disaggregation of classes from the universities that offer them, and soon. No bang but a slow whimpering hiss. Classes, lectures, minors and majors are now being created by IT champions in partnership with credentialed professors and stored on racks outside of the university, then sold back to the universities to accredit them. This is the trajectory of folks like Udacity, Kahn Academy and others who have been creating courses separate from accrediting institutions. That is disaggregation. MIT and Harvard are developing their own joint web site to head this off. But the lid is already off the university’s course creating privilege. Now even Harvard has to compete with every rogue philosopher with an Internet connection.

The University is becoming a “white hat” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy to bring in the students, because only accredited “XYZ Universities” hold the wand of certification. But even that is only temporary. Imagine Harvard and Yale undergraduate degrees, like the Educational Testing Service (ETS) that administers the SATs. When it comes to a BA or a BS all the Ivy’s will really provide are the Ivy League certified test results (a “Bachelor’s Degree”) of the free on-line education you received from the online classes you took from roaming on-line intellectuals. And who knows whom that Ivy school will ultimately farm out the brute labor of grading their certified tests, probably PhDs in Bangalore. Which makes sense since certified accountants in Bangalore already do vast millions Americans’ tax returns.

Professor Racks are coming: “GeekProfs” whose proprietary classes are stored and launched into the cloud from places like Web Hosting Geeks. The GeekProfs will be independent credentialed professors who use web sites designed for them by professional web designers. That is what the new much cheaper university classes and majors will look like. The age of disaggregated courses and majors created and taught by Professors without Buildings is upon us. Web Hosting services will soon house vast numbers of the on-line undergraduate courses that the wandering adjuncts will both own and teach for established Universities who in turn will serve the GeekProfs’ on-line courses as their own curricula. The long-exploited underpaid wandering adjunct professors will become the intellectual mercenaries of the Internet.

The coming age of GeekProfs returns us to the ancient Greece of Aristotle and the peripatetic teachers who wandered throughout the countryside selling wisdom. But now the classes will move, and the philosophers will stay in their coffee shops reaping residuals from their classes that travel without them. Saylor Foundation is already doing something like this and it, has been for years, and free to the students. Recently they teamed up with StraighterLine University to provide their accreditation.

Is your BS underwater? Are you upside down on your college mortgage? Many American students are, or certainly will be. By the end of the housing bubble, hordes of Americans who had taken out enormous mortgages found the houses they owned were no longer worth what they owed. Apply this to your college degree. What is the Return on Investment for your degree? Will your degree really be worth what you will owe to pay it off? It depends on where you went and in what you majored. How about that Sociology degree? Or Women’s Studies degree? Or even that, “Gee, my shrink seems rich” psychology degree. Probably not, if one of the main goal of your degree was to advance your professional life. As the higher ed bubble bulges to breaking, fewer degrees are giving profitable returns. Of course if your degree was a luxury expense, return on investment was never an issue. But for those of us who hoped to monetize our education. This is a serious problem. Just like those whose homes are now under water. Once the education really starts to fizzle, however, far fewer new undergraduate degrees will sink under water.

Why? Because when the cost of undergraduate degrees is based on what you know — what you learned relatively inexpensively from Prof Racks — well those of us for whom education is an investment rather than a luxury, will only go to the Web Hosting Prof Rack sites that actually teach us enough to pass the exams. Yeh, I admit it: I like high stakes testing. It means lower price, higher quality, higher education for the working class YouTuber. Brick and mortar university? “the twinkle of a fading star….”

Related: Kathy Shaidle’s 3 Reasons Higher Education Is Broken — and How To Fix It

Article printed from PJ Lifestyle: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle

URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/05/16/this-is-the-way-the-higher-education-bubble-ends/
This seems to be a recurrent theme in many threads; education does not equal intelligence or even potential. There is also a vastly distorted world view both from within and without the education cloisters. Sadly, since credentialed (as opposed to educated) people are in positions of power, I don't expect to see policy changes coming any time soon:


'Meaningful Work'
By Thomas Sowell

"Education" is a word that covers a lot of very different things, from vital, life-saving medical skills to frivolous courses to absolutely counterproductive courses that fill people with a sense of grievance and entitlement, without giving them either the skills to earn a living or a realistic understanding of the world required for a citizen in a free society.

The lack of realism among many highly educated people has been demonstrated in many ways.

When I saw signs in Yellowstone National Park warning visitors not to get too close to a buffalo, I realized that this was a warning that no illiterate farmer of a bygone century would have needed. No one would have had to tell him not to mess with a huge animal that literally weighs a ton, and can charge at you at 30 miles an hour.

No one would have had to tell that illiterate farmer's daughter not to stand by the side of a highway, trying to hitch a ride with strangers, as too many college girls have done, sometimes with results that ranged all the way up to their death.

The dangers that a lack of realism can bring to many educated people are completely overshadowed by the dangers to a whole society created by the unrealistic views of the world promoted in many educational institutions.

It was painful, for example, to see an internationally renowned scholar say that what low-income young people needed was "meaningful work." But this is a notion common among educated elites, regardless of how counterproductive its consequences may be for society at large, and for low-income youngsters especially.

What is "meaningful work"?

The underlying notion seems to be that it is work whose performance is satisfying or enjoyable in itself. But if that is the only kind of work that people should have to do, how is garbage to be collected, bed pans emptied in hospitals or jobs with life-threatening dangers to be performed?

Does anyone imagine that firemen enjoy going into burning homes and buildings to rescue people trapped by the flames? That soldiers going into combat think it is fun?

In the real world, many things are done simply because they have to be done, not because doing them brings immediate pleasure to those who do them. Some people take justifiable pride in working to take care of their families, whether or not the work itself is great.

Some of our more Utopian intellectuals lament that many people work "just for the money." They do not like a society where A produces what B wants, simply in order that B will produce what A wants, with money being an intermediary device facilitating such exchanges.

Some would apparently prefer a society where all-wise elites would decide what each of us "needs" or "deserves." The actual history of societies formed on that principle -- histories often stained, or even drenched, in blood -- is of little interest to those who mistake wishful thinking for idealism.

At the very least, many intellectuals do not want the poor or the young to have to take "menial" jobs. But people who are paying their own money, as distinguished from the taxpayers' money, for someone to do a job are unlikely to part with hard cash unless that job actually needs doing, whether or not that job is called "menial" by others.

People who lack the skills to take on more prestigious jobs can either remain idle and live as parasites on others or take the jobs for which they are currently qualified, and then move up the ladder as they acquire more experience. People who are flipping hamburgers at McDonald's on New Year's Day are seldom flipping hamburgers there when Christmas time comes.

Those relatively few statistics that follow actual flesh-and-blood individuals over time show them moving massively from one income bracket to another over time, starting at the bottom and moving up as they acquire skills and experience.

Telling young people that some jobs are "menial" is a huge disservice to them and to the whole society. Subsidizing them in idleness while they wait for "meaningful work" is just asking for trouble, both for them and for all those around them.

Copyright 2012, Creators Syndicate Inc.
Prior learning assessments provide another means of bypassing the traditional gatekeepers. Once again, the question for the CF is how are we planning to assess recruits in the near future who may be highly educated using these alternative means but are not credentialed?


Making It Count
June 15, 2012 - 3:00am
By Paul Fain

Massively open online courses, or MOOCs, are not credit-bearing. But a pathway to college credit for the courses already exists -- one that experts say many students may soon take.

That scenario combines the courses with prior learning assessment -- a less-hyped potential “disruption” to traditional higher education -- which is the granting of credit for college-level learning gained outside the traditional academic setting.

Here’s how the process could work: A student successfully completes a MOOC, like Coursera’s Social Network Analysis, which will be taught this fall by Lada Adamic, an associate professor at the University of Michigan. The student then describes what he or she learned in that course, backing it up with proof, in a portfolio developed with the help of LearningCounts.org or another service, perhaps offered by a college.

Generally those portfolios contain a broad array of demonstrated learning, like work experience and training, volunteering or even the voracious reading of a history buff. But MOOCs, such as those from Coursera, EdX, Udacity and Udemy, likely will be part of portfolios in the near future.

“It’s just a matter of time," said Chari Leader Kelley, vice president for LearningCounts.org, which is a subsidiary of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). And Kelley said CAEL will be ready to handle those submissions. “We are set up to do that. The infrastructure is there.”

Building a prior-learning portfolio isn’t easy. But if the final product passes muster with a CAEL-affiliated faculty member with discipline-specific expertise, the student could qualify for a credit recommendation that matches up with an equivalent course from a regionally accredited college. That credit recommendation, say for three credits in a course on social media, would have the backing of the American Council on Education (ACE), which runs the most established credit recommendation service.

With that document in hand, the student could then enroll in one of the many colleges that accept ACE’s recommendations, or the scores of colleges that have agreed to participate in LearningCounts.org. That means the student, having taken a free online course, taught by a professor from the University of Michigan and taken by tens of thousands of people around the world, could walk away with three credits from Argosy University, the University of Maryland University College or George Washington University, to pick a few LearningCounts.org partner institutions.

Andrew Ng, Coursera’s co-founder and an engineering professor at Stanford University, said the prior-learning pathway to credits for MOOCs is “fantastic” and a “big value add for students.” Furthermore, it doesn’t overlap with Coursera’s goals, as Ng said the company will not pursue accreditation as a means of issuing formal academic credits.

“Coursera is not planning to become a university,” he said.

Only a handful of institutions have used MOOCs as a direct means of granting college credit. In those cases, the colleges were overseas, like the University of Freiburg, in Germany, where students also had to complete university-proctored examinations. So at this point, prior learning may be a more viable way to earn credit for MOOCs.

In addition, the courses will have multiple uses at colleges that feature competency-based education. Excelsior College, for example, already steers students to open courseware in study guides for its proficiency examinations. Students can earn college credit by passing those tests, which are in subjects ranging from English composition to Earth science, as well as a swath of courses in nursing.

Excelsior has identified free, or cheap, online courses that students can use to prepare for the exams, and includes them in study guides. Some of those courses include offerings from the Khan Academy and the Saylor Foundation. Excelsior will look at MOOCs as it expands those guides, said William M. Stewart, a spokesman for the college. And Excelsior is a LearningCounts.org partner institution, so it would accept MOOC credits as part of portfolio-based recommendations from CAEL.

MOOCs and competency-based examinations are part of the “post-traditional era of higher education,” Stewart said. But even in this era, “the world still requires some credible evidence, credible proof, that you’ve learned what you say you’ve learned.”

Big Classes, Big Potential

Prior learning experts are unruffled about the prospect of a flood of MOOC submissions in student portfolios. That’s because the same process would apply to reviewing them as to any other form of prior learning.

"We see MOOCs as yet another structured learning experience offered outside of the traditional college classroom setting," said Tina Grant, director of the National College Credit Recommendation Service, which is affiliated with the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, and along with ACE is a primary arbiter of what counts for college credits.

The delivery mechanism for learning is relatively unimportant in prior learning assessment, experts said. And when done well, the prior learning process demonstrates what you know and how you learned it, with plenty of evidence.

“The proof is in the pudding,” said Melanie Booth, dean of learning and assessment at Marylhurst University. “The source doesn’t matter. Show me what you know.”

That process is fairly labor-intensive. In fact, some MOOC students might decide it’s easier to retake an equivalent course at a traditional college than to seek prior-learning credit for a MOOC.

With LearningCounts.org, students pay $500 to take a three-credit course on portfolio preparation and experiential learning theory. The fee for a one- to 12-credit portfolio review by a CAEL-affiliated faculty assessor in a given discipline is $250. For the reviewer to give a green light for credit recommendations, the student must explain that he or she has learned the concepts taught in a particular course at an accredited college, Kelley said, complete with detailed information that matches up with the content and actual syllabus of that course.

Each course-based description is “very similar to an end-of-course term paper,” she said. And although it can be a bit less formal than a research paper, “each concept needs to be addressed specifically.”

The student must present solid evidence as part of the portfolio. In the case of MOOCs, that would include the certificate or statement of completion, which will probably cost between $30 and $80 for a Coursera MOOC, as well as other citations. For example, Kelley said, other students from the course could be listed as references, if they interacted with the student in study groups or were peer evaluators of coursework.

A prior learning portfolio gets the pass-fail treatment at Learning Counts. Students must show that they are at a C level or better in the eyes of the faculty reviewer to receive a credit recommendation for a course equivalent. “The way we work, it’s all or nothing,” Kelley said.

However, an evaluator may give a student a chance to bulk up a portfolio that was close to the mark.

Boost for Prior Learning?

MOOCs may be just another form of nontraditional education in the context of prior learning. But the potential scale of the courses makes them different, experts said. For example, 104,000 students enrolled in a machine learning course that Ng taught last year. And 1.5 million people have signed up for Coursera, EdX and Udacity courses.

Groups like CAEL are already ramping up to handle increasing demand for prior learning, which is being driven in part by a big uptick in the number of adult students who are returning to college. Also at play is the college “completion agenda,” which has given a boost to prior learning because it can help students earn degrees quicker and more cheaply.

Some observers think the interest in MOOCs could help spur demand for prior learning assessment, building wider acceptance of the practice in the process. Many traditionalists in higher education, particularly at selective colleges, have been skeptical of prior learning assessment. But that may be more difficult when the learning occurs with the tutelage of professors at some of the world's most prestigious universities. And MOOCs might also make contributions to how prior learning is measured.

The explosion of MOOCs and other forms of open learning will increase the need for having strong standards in place on prior learning, said Nan L. Travers, an expert on prior learning and director of the office of collegewide academic review at Empire State College, which is part of the State University of New York. That’s because more students will cobble together their college educations through multiple sources of learning.

“This is going to help us get even better at what we’re doing,” she said.

Credit recommendations for MOOCs could serve as a "bridge" between the nontraditional and traditional college settings, said Grant, by "helping those students who want to take advantage of MOOCs and still earn a college degree."

But students shouldn't expect to get a leg up on their prior learning portfolio by underlining the name of the elite university that employs their MOOC professor. That's because what you know counts more in prior learning than where you learned it.

"It doesn't matter" which institution is affiliated with a MOOC, Booth said. "It's not more or less prestigious than other forms of prior learning assessment."

(NOTE: This story has been changed from a previous version to correct a reference to an affiliation of the National College Credit Recommendation Service.)

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/15/earning-college-credit-moocs-through-prior-learning-assessment#ixzz1xvVRfcJo
Yet another example of how the economies of scale work in favour of the Internet. Delivering a course for $1/student? The model described can also be adapted to some higher level military instruction; think of courses where you have to solve problems in syndicates; now your syndicate may not even meet in person, one member is in Halifax while another is in Edmonton. The fact that large numbers of people sign up but only a fraction graduate isn't really a big deal in my mind; this is a form of self selection and the supervisors doing the ratings can include the ratio of attempted courses to the ones completed as a factor (does the person have the ability to select items that fit his interests/needs and does the person have the will to complete these courses?).

Our DL models of instruction/course delivery need to be examined in light of these models and allowed to evolve to:

a. scale rapidly
b. provide useable content (mixed bag, so far in the CF)
c. provide useful "credentials" once training has been completed; both internally in the CF and also externally for soldiers retiring or releasing:


Long article; this is the money quote:

Frustrated that his (and fellow Googler Peter Norvig’s) Stanford artificial intelligence class only reached 200 students, they put up a website offering an online version. They got few takers. Then he mentioned the online course at a conference with 80 attendees and 80 people signed up. On a Friday, he sent an offer to the mailing list of a top AI association. On Saturday morning he had 3,000 sign-ups—by Monday morning, 14,000.

In the midst of this, there was a slight hitch, Mr. Thrun says. “I had forgotten to tell Stanford about it. There was my authority problem. Stanford said ‘If you give the same exams and the same certificate of completion [as Stanford does], then you are really messing with what certificates really are. People are going to go out with the certificates and ask for admission [at the university] and how do we even know who they really are?’ And I said: I. Don’t. Care.”

In the end, there were 160,000 people signed up, from every country in the world, he says, except North Korea. Rather than tape boring lectures, the professors asked students to solve problems and then the next course video would discuss solutions. Mr. Thrun broke the rules again. Twenty-three thousand people finished the course. Of his 200 Stanford students, 30 attended lectures and the other 170 took it online. The top 410 performers on exams were online students. The first Stanford student was No. 411.

Mr. Thrun’s cost was basically $1 per student per class. That’s on the order of 1,000 times less per pupil than for a K-12 or a college education—way more than the rule of thumb in Silicon Valley that you need a 10 times cost advantage to drive change.

So Mr. Thrun set up a company, Udacity, that joins many other companies attacking the problem of how to deliver the optimal online education. “What I see is democratizing education will change everything,” he says. “I have an unbelievable passion about this. We will reach students that have never been reached. I can give my love of learning to other people. I’ve stumbled into the most amazing Wonderland. I’ve taken the red pill and seen how deep Wonderland is.”

“But Wonderland is also crazy!” I interrupt.

“So?” . . . I ask why he always takes on these quantum changes instead of trying something incremental. “That’s what Google taught me. Aim higher. Udacity is my playground—to radically experiment and find out. I’ve seen the light.”

Now Mr. Thrun is talking like a true Silicon Valley entrepreneur. “The AI class was the first light. Online education will way exceed the best education today. And cheaper. If this works, we can rapidly accelerate the progress of society and the world. If you think Facebook is neat, wait five to 10 years. So many open problems will be solved.”

I’ve met a few others like Sebastian Thrun. When you ask them why they took on a huge challenge, they ask: Why not?
Bill Maher nails it...


June 19, 2012
The Endth Degree
By Bill Maher

Is going to college still even worth it? College grads are coming out with degrees, yes – and herpes – but also with student loan debt totaling $60,000, $80,000, $100,00. These kids haven’t even gotten started in their careers and they’re already saddled with what’s tantamount to a full mortgage. In this sucky economy, graduates find themselves back in their old bedrooms at their parents’ homes, taking jobs in the service industry that they could have gotten without a college degree.

The cost of higher education in the US has soared in recent decades while median incomes have stagnated. The California State University schools raised their tuitions for the second time in less than a year, making this year’s tuition over 23% higher than the previous fall’s. And those are just the most recent increases. Attending a Cal State school now costs twice what it cost just back in 2007. And that’s not even counting the price of weed.

The old canard is that people with bachelor’s degrees make twice as much as high school graduates over their careers. But average starting salaries for college graduates just fell 10% and, if you take into account the higher income taxes paid by college grads and the four to six years they spend out of the job market getting their degrees, is that $60,000 to $100,000 in college loan debt really worth it?

And is the degree really worth it? A new comprehensive study of college grading over the decades finds that just about everybody who pays their tuition bills is deemed exceptional. 43% of letter grades awarded today are A’s as compared to just 15% back in 1960. By 2008, A’s and B’s represented 73% of all grades awarded at public colleges and 86% of all grades awarded at private colleges. It’s Lake Wobegon, “Where all the children are above average.” And that’s in spite of studies that show college students spend far less time studying today than they did decades ago.

If everybody is a genius, aren’t you paying $100,000 to $150,000 just to get your ticket stamped? You’re not buying an education so much as you’re buying a degree with a commendable GPA. Has the college degree with a B average become just a consumer product you can buy with a $100,000 loan? Wouldn’t a bright, industrious kid be better off in this economy to just jump into the job market and try to excel through merit?
ballz said:
Bill Maher nails it...


Not open for further replies.