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The real economics of massive online courses (essay) | Inside Higher Ed - 1 views

  • We also know that there are plenty of low- to no-cost learning options available to people on a daily basis, from books on nearly every academic topic at the local library and on-the-job experience, to the television programming on the National Geographic, History and Discovery channels. If learning can and does take place everywhere, there has to be a specific reason that people would be willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars and several years of their life to get it from one particular source like a college.
  • We also know that there are plenty of low- to no-cost learning options available to people on a daily basis, from books on nearly every academic topic at the local library and on-the-job experience, to the television programming on the National Geographic, History and Discovery channels. If learning can and does take place everywhere, there has to be a specific reason that people would be willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars and several years of their life to get it from one particular source like a college. There is, of course, and again it’s the credential, because no matter how many years I spend diligently tuned to the History Channel, I’m simply not going to get a job as a high-school history teacher with “television watching” as the core of my resume, even if I both learned and retained far more information than I ever could have in a series of college history classes.
  • The fact that no school uses a lottery system to determine who gets in means that determining who gets in matters a great deal to these schools, because it helps them control quality and head off the adverse effects of unqualified students either dropping out or performing poorly in career positions. For individual institutions, obtaining high quality inputs works to optimize the school’s objective function, which is maximizing prestige.
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  • The fatal flaw that I referred to earlier is pretty apparent:  the very notions of "mass, open" and selectivity just don’t lend themselves to a workable model that benefits both institutions and students. Our higher education system needs MOOCs to provide credentials in order for students to find it worthwhile to invest the effort, yet colleges can’t afford to provide MOOC credentials without sacrificing prestige, giving up control of the quality of the students who take their courses and running the risk of eventually diluting the value of their education brand in the eyes of the labor market.
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20 questions (and answers) about MOOCs » Dave's Educational Blog - 1 views

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    Dave Cormier reports on a Q&A about MOOCs and, in the process, outlines some of the history of the concept
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