by Stephen Downes
May 05, 2015
Elsevier's Free MOOC Prepares Med Students for Licensing Exam
Here's another MOOC business model - MOOC as a loss leader for textbook sales. And 'free MOOC' as pilot (it reads as though they will charge fees for later iterations of the MOOC). "The success of the Crush Step 1 MOOC pilot will help Elsevier evaluate its ability to work within the MOOC model and develop trusted content that informs and engages medical students," said Theodore O'Connell, MD, author of Crush Step 1. "Using results from the pilot, Elsevier will understand how we might develop a full USMLE course and other course guides." Of course, the MOOC starts with a detailed registration form - so I don't think they don't really get the idea of 'open'.
Inside Higher Ed,
Here's another example of the use of MOOCs to ease entry into degree programs. If you graduate with the all-MOOC MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign you'll end up paying the same fees as anyone else - but if you don't need the credential you can get a certificate for a lot less, and you can take courses for free well inot the program. There's a certain point, of course, at which all of these cease being MOOCs, because the university seems to have lost the meaning of the work 'open'. The model is called "fractional learning" and looks like it is going to spread well beyond Arizona and Illinois. It's called the iMBA and is delivered through Coursera.
8-Year Old Creates Stunning Victory For Gender Equality
I'm always sceptical when I read headlines about the great accomplishments of 8-year-olds like this, because I know that they require a lot of support from their parents just to get in the door of major publishers, not to mention deciding what to say and how to say it. But I also really like it when they (and their parents) do have an impact like that, because it's so good for the child, and it's so good for society to have children having an impact on major policy decisions. We should do it more often. So Kudos to Els of North London for convincing a number of publishers to do away with the harmful 'for girls' and 'for boys' lables on books.
Four Scenarios on the Future of Credentials
I'm not really a fan of the 'scenario-building' approach to projecting future trends, but it's all the range these days and so not surprising to see employed in this report (which is overall a pretty good overview of the environment). Here are the four scenarios (quoted from the study (17 page PDF)):
- “All Roads Lead to Rome,” imagines a future in which degrees awarded by the K-12 and post-secondary sectors still serve as the dominant form of credentials."
- “The Dam Breaks,” explores a future in which the employment sector accepts new forms of credentials, such as micro-credentials, on a standalone basis.
- Every Experience a Credential,” considers what credentials might look like if new technologies enabled every experience to be tracked and catalogued.
- “My Mind Mapped,” imagines a future (with) breakthroughs in both the mapping and tracking of brain functions.
The universities are pursuing scenario 1, naturally. Most others are pursuing scenario 2. We are pursuing scenario 3. Nobody is really pursuing scenario 4, because it will be decades before the technology becomes practical, and would raise serious social and moral issues.
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