by Stephen Downes
Jan 27, 2017
As competition from non-traditional education providers intensifies, colleges and universities will depend a lot on public perception and trust. So this is not a good time for that trust to be eroding, but that's what's been happening as they blithely collect ever-increasing tuition fees and conduct research at the behest of the highest bidder. At least now the effort is underway to reverse that trend. "Beyond data, re-engaging the public also means talking more about -- and designing policies and programs around -- who college and university students really are, since only a fraction are “traditional” students straight out of high school... It also means “maintaining a laser focus on equity and quality” in what will likely be a deregulated environment going forward."
So there's something: "You can now have a website secured by a certificate issued by a Google CA, hosted on Google web infrastructure, with a domain registered using Google Domains, resolved using Google Public DNS, going over Google Fiber, in Google Chrome on a Google Chromebook. Google has officially vertically integrated the Internet." Also: "server written in Go, running on a Google server OS, located on a Google designed server appliance, which is centrally controlled by a Google designed microprocessor, which is finally manufactured in a Google owned semiconductor foundry. Oh, and the sand used for silicon purification is sourced from a Google-owned stretch of beach." OK, maybe not the last. But Google is a force of nature, to be sure.
MOOCs are growing shorter, tighter, and more popular. Against a "backdrop of growing popularity with learners, and growing recognition by employers, MOOC platforms themselves are evolving and a much more sophisticated landscape of short online courses is emerging." This is the result found by a study by The Open University, FutureLearn, and Parthenon EY. No links provided in several news sources to the original study (boo! hiss!). The author - Gavin - appears also to have no last name.
The authors of this study interviewed participants of a couple MOOCs and asked them why they dropped out, rolling up the responses. Time was one of the factors cited, though there wasn't really an effort to quantify or order the responses, though 'time' was the most frequently cited reason. They then draw some odd conclusions. "When a course is open for everyone, some learners will have problems with the content being too difficult, or too basic, and some will have problems with understanding English, while others will have problems with Internet connections. Thus, we can ask two rhetorical questions: Are MOOCs really open?" I don't think this follows at all from the study.
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