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Ed Webb

Free Online Courses, at a Very High Price - Technology - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 3 views

  • A success for college-made free online courses—except that Mr. Ziegler, who works for a restaurant-equipment company in Pennsylvania, is on the verge of losing his job. And those classes failed to provide what his résumé real ly needs: a college credential.
  • the recession and disappearing grant money are forcing colleges to confront a difficult question: What business model can support the high cost of giving away your "free" content?
  • David Wiley, open education's Everywhere Man
  • ...16 more annotations...
  • The education oracle offers another prophecy for open courseware. "Every OCW initiative at a university that does not offer distance courses for credit," he has blogged, "will be dead by the end of calendar 2012."
  • ventures around the country are seriously exploring new business strategies. For some, it's fund raising à la National Public Radio; for others, hooking open content to core operations by dangling it as a gateway to paid courses.
  • "Given that exclusivity has come to be seen by some as a question of how many students a university can turn away, I don't see what's going to make the selective universities increase their appetite for risking their brands by offering credits for online versions of core undergraduate courses,"
  • the unbundling of higher education.
  • MIT, where students pay about $50,000 a year for a tightly knit package of course content, learning experiences, certification, and social life. MIT OpenCourseWare has lopped off the content and dumped it in cyberspace. Eventually, according to Mr. Carson's take on the unbundling story, online learning experiences will emerge that go beyond just content. Consider Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative, another darling of the movement, whose multimedia courses track students' progress and teach them with built-in tutors—no professor required.
  • "Social life we'll just forget about because there's Facebook," Mr. Wiley says. "Nobody believes that people have to go to university to have a social life anymore."
  • Peer 2 Peer University
  • University of the People
  • Western Governors University—a nonprofit, accredited online institution that typically charges $2,890 per six-month term—where students advance by showing what they've learned, not how much time they've spent in class. It's called competency-based education. It means you can fast-forward your degree by testing out of stuff you've already mastered. Some see a marriage of open content and competency-based learning as a model for the small-pieces-loosely-joined chain of cheaper, fragmented education.
  • much open courseware is "lousy,"
  • "There's a pretty significant fraction of the population that learns better with instructor-led kinds of activities than purely self-paced activities,"
  • "It doesn't shift what's happening in some of the very stable traditional institutions of higher education. But there are huge numbers of others who aren't being served. And it's with those that I think we'll begin to see new forms."
  • The model boils down to six words: Do you like this? Enroll now!
  • a Korean university where students competed to produce open lecture notes. The prize was an iPod and lunch with the university president.
  • Carnegie Mellon is trying a different model. When its courses are good enough, with other colleges assigning them as e-textbooks, it asks students to pay a fee as low as $15, says Joel M. Smith, vice provost. "That would be a very, very, very cheap textbook," he says. "If it were used by a large number of colleges and universities, it could sustain the project."
  • the free courses taught him one thing, something important when you've been out of school so long: He can do it. He can follow a Yale class. He has nothing to fear.
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