Posts Tagged ‘MOOCs’


Substantial Top quality On the internet Understanding: A Discussion with USC’s Karen Gallagher

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Technology and Learning

Karen Symms Gallagher, Dean of USC Rossier School of Education, caught my eye for two reasons.   

First, I read a couple of opinion pieces in which she argued that we need to look beyond MOOCs to the potential of providing extremely high quality and intimate for-credit degree programs that leverage new options in technology and new opportunities in non-profit / for-profit partnerships.   These columns, including Higher Ed Leaders Must Lead Online and Rethinking Higher Ed Open Online Learning stand apart for their combination of a progressive call for innovation in online education and skepticism that the locus of this innovation is limited to the world of MOOCs.

The second reason that Karen ended up on my radar screen was her designation as a  Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow.   This prestigious fellowship, which is given to only two dozen educators a year, is designed to "support extraordinary entrepreneurial leaders who are committed to transforming public education." 

The fact that Karen is a strong voice for innovation in new online learning models within the context of high quality degree programs makes her selection as a Pahara-Aspen Fellow a noteworthy development.   Discussions about online education have largely bifurcated around the MOOCs or the for-profit world, with too little attention paid to advances in the quality of online and blended programs offered at highly selective institutions.  The Pahara-Aspen Fellowship may prove to be an ideal platform in which to introduce new ideas and models into the larger conversation.

Karen graciously agreed to participate in an e-mail discussion to explore her ideas around how higher ed leaders can advance both our thinking and our models around online education.

Question:  Can you briefly describe what USC has been up to with online education?

When USC President Max Nikias announced that online education must be a priority for graduate programs, we saw the rest of the university catching up with us.  Every school has been charged with moving forward with an online program, and I’m proud that the USC Rossier School was three years ahead of many others.  We launched our online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT@USC) in June of 2009, and believe me we had our skeptics at the time! How can you possibly teach teaching online?   But we are mission-driven:  all our work is designed to further our mission to improve learning in urban schools locally, nationally and globally.   Our vision is that every student, regardless of personal circumstance, can learn and succeed.  We are not a boutique school with a few students and faculty; true impact in education requires thoughtful scale.  

The only way to scale up was to take the program online.  That’s one difference between us and most of the other schools at USC. The need in this country for more high quality teachers has never been greater.  Besides receiving the masters degree from USC, students also earn a California teacher credential.  This is important to note because we have to meet the high standards of both USC and the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing.  So, students must not only meet every week via live classes using such tools as Adobe Connect, but each student is placed in a school in his or her local community from the beginning of the program  Since the online MAT started, we have graduated over 1200 students living in all 50 states and over 40 countries.  We have partnered with over 1400 school districts. And we are expanding with new online programs this year.
 Question:  What was your rationale to partner with 2U rather than do everything internally?
The issue was capacity.  We knew the content and curriculum, we had the best faculty, and we had a track record of preparing high quality teachers, but we also knew knew we did not have the expertise to build and maintain the type of Learning Management System (LMS) that would adequately support our program.  We were not going to shortchange our students in any way.  We wanted a robust, interactive, synchronous, live experience for our students and we also wanted the back-end infrastructure to be maintained by experts, so that the functioning of the technology was always sound.  John Katzman and his team at 2U (then 2Tor) worked with us hand-in-hand until we had a platform that we knew was worthy of our quality program.
 Question:  You have been somewhat skeptical of MOOCs in your writing, and I gather that this is not the strategic direction that USC is going.  Can you elaborate?

I am actually taking a MOOC course myself right now through Coursera.  Me and 260,000 of my closest friends!  I wanted to experience for myself what all the hype is about.  And as I’ve said before, I can’t help comparing them to The Great Courses, audio tapes of wonderful classes from top universities, which my husband and I always enjoyed.  I’m absorbing information, but I’m certainly not interacting in any meaningful or face-to-face discussions. Now there is a certain amount of interactivity with my MOOC experience, I’ll admit. You can post comments through many different social media during the MOOC course which, because of the number of participants, is a bit like drinking through a fire hose.  If you think of the credits rolling by at the end of a movie, that is how fast comments roll by while reading content or watching UTube videos.  I find it almost impossible to gain anything of substance from my fellow students’ postings because they are coming so fast and furiously, and often superficially.

The kind of robust interactivity and quality demanded by a hybrid degree program like Rossier’s Master of Arts in Teaching does not come cheaply, and it certainly doesn’t come for free, like the MOOC I’m taking.
This is the difficulty with a broad term like “;online”. We’re talking about apples and oranges.  But the language we use currently to categorize online education is not refined enough to differentiate experiences or signify quality.
 Question:  Tell us about the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship.  What will this designation allow you to accomplish?  What are your goals to leverage this honor?   
It was a true honor to be selected for this Fellowship, and I’m eager to meet with my new colleagues and begin this two-year experience.   We will meet for the first time next month, so our goals as a group will be formed then.  It is flattering that for the first time they brought a dean from a School of Education to this prestigious table.  I think that programs like our online MAT and our new LAUSD charter school, USC Hybrid High School, speak loudly about us.  Our work is bold.  It can be risky.  Our mission demands that of us.  Or as I like to say, the Rossier School of Education is not your grandmother’s school of education.

What questions do you have for Karen?

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U


The creating of a MOOC at the University of Amsterdam

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Within Larger Ed | Website U


702c3 Education AriedenBoonEditor&#39s note: The guest entry beneath was written by Arie K. den Boon (PhD), visiting professor of the Department of Communication Science and organizer of the first MOOC of the University of Amsterdam.&nbspArie K. den Boon (pictured to the correct) is also founder of StartupPush (with Paul Eikelenboom), GfKDaphne, and June Methods. My thanks to Dr. den Boon and the senior leadership of the University of Amsterdam for enabling our readers to greater understand some of the developmental dynamics of MOOCs outside of the US. This entry need to also be viewed in the context of nascent debates about the uneven international geographies of MOOCs — a theme dealt with in GlobalHigherEd by means of &#39Memo to Trustees re: Thomas Friedman&rsquos &lsquoRevolution Hits the Universities,&rsquo &#39Are MOOCs turning out to be mechanisms for global competitors in international greater ed?,&#39 &#39On the territorial dimensions of MOOCs,&#39 and &#39The MOOCs fad and bubble: please tell us yet another story!&#39.&nbsp See, as nicely, Elizabeth Redden&#39s &#39Multinational MOOCs&#39 and the Observatory on Borderless Larger Education&#39s &#39Would you credit score that? The trajectory of the MOOCs juggernaut&#39 (though the latter is behind a paywall).

You can see the MOOC discussed beneath by way of this site and adhere to the linked Twitter feed by means of


The making of a MOOC at the University of Amsterdam

by Arie K. den Boon

The sun is coming out from behind the clouds and tends to make the lake blindingly white. Skaters have come out in huge numbers on the very first tour of the year on normal ice, commencing uneasily but finding out swiftly with developing self-confidence. Skating is 1 of those things you only find out by performing.

Although I am enjoying the gorgeous landscape and concentrate on staying away from the sudden fissures in the ice, my mobile is obtaining mails from the MOOC crew, some 13 people functioning feverously to get their 1st MOOC out to the audience. We started out with two: Rutger de Graaf, lecturer of the course Introduction to Communication Science and me, lobbying and attempting to get individuals help the notion of an MOOC. We never ever anticipated we would have so several colleagues operating on the venture. It appeared very straightforward to set up a program with video.

When I did the Artificial Intelligence program of Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvik in late 2011, I was immediately conscious that this was much more inspiring than any online or offline college I had before. This was so rich, so demanding and gratifying, that I knew this was going to alter the planet. The movies were basic and therefore feeling intimate. They were taken in their garage and Sebastian and Peter had been clumsily shuffling pieces of paper to right handwritten formulas and photos. It looked like they spoke to you personally in a very straightforward set up. But later on I grew to become aware that it took plenty of energy and time to produce the video. Sebastian&rsquos voice was giving away and later on he was absent for a handful of lessons, and I understood he was exhausted of getting ready the MOOC at evening in his garage with standard classes and other obligations in daytime. Now I also saw that the program video clips and quizzes have been nicely orchestrated and followed a cautiously created path that ultimately brought me and my tens of thousands of fellow college students to the last exam. I obtained the certificate and could not cease talking about it this was some thing we had to do at the University of Amsterdam too. My expectations were quite large. It could carry us a lot higher high quality in our education, with a significantly richer experience simply because of the student&rsquos interaction that presented added feedback, with new explanations, examples and references on something in or associated to the course. Maybe it would also be considerably much more efficient, liberating lecturers to do far more analysis and give any amount of men and women around the planet with a browser accessibility to increased education. It would do some very good branding as properly, showing Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam is innovative in education and study.

UvAlogoQuickly I discovered that it was not so simple right after all. We started in Might 2012, with almost no price range, only the believe in that the concept of a MOOC would be so compelling that we would win fans and spending budget holders along the way. And, really, we did the Graduate College, the University, the Faculty and also the best level decision makers at the University of Amsterdam liked the idea and managed to get us funding. The preparing was to get the course out in September, Okay, probably October. We bought a graphical tablet, some computer software and started experimenting. The 1st 30 seconds of the introduction took us a total day just to get proper. The program was a replicate of the off line course Rutger was providing, but a MOOC is various, considerably more compact, and in require of a distinct narrative. It took us several months to find out how to produce a relative efficient process. Peter Neijens, director of the Graduate College estimated we would be working the MOOC in January. I believed that was ridiculous, be I kept silent. Boy, we had been going to present we had been a lot quicker. But quickly I learned far better. Creating a MOOC is like moving a mountain. We now have a production group of 4, an editorial board of four, designers and PR men and women, venture managers, personnel of the College of Communication and the Graduate College, the IT crew with Frank Benneker our MOOC guru, etc. We have inner folks on the job, but also some external people, which I feel is quite healthful for both velocity and thoroughness. We have opened registration and plan to start off with the program on February 20th. I promise: we will. Soon after attending AI and a Statistics course, I now use the MOOC of Steve Blank on Udacity to coach and train pupil startups in a flipped classroom setting. The type of flipped classroom performs very properly, and employing other MOOC&rsquos assists to determine the very best ways to setup a MOOC. 1 essential part of the electrical power of MOOC&rsquos would seem to be the volume of interaction amongst students, not among students and teacher. So what a MOOC should do, especially with smaller sized numbers of students, is stimulate the interaction amongst students. The far more MOOCs we get and the fewer college students per MOOC, the a lot more essential that becomes.

702c3 Education AmsterdamWe have made a decision to see if we can join forces with Coursera, but at the identical time create on Sakai as well. Sakai is an open source environment that is produced by a huge group of universities. It has some outdated fashioned quirks, but also some new developments that make it suitable for a pilot like this one particular. Apart from, it is not however clear in which the American ventures like Coursera, edX, Udacity and other people are heading to. What is their business model? What takes place to the information of &lsquoour&rsquo students, how nicely are their private information protected the way we Europeans want it? Probably it is smart to organize a European platform as well a little bit of choice for college students and some competitors would not be hazardous. On the other hand it is clear that the greatest platform will attain the largest audience and will get the most college students. Coursera is developing faster than Facebook and seems to have closed its gates for new universities due to the fact of its tremendous development, at least temporarily. So we are content to produce on our personal platform. The fire is on, other faculties and other universities are interested and want to join the platform and find out from our experiences. The UvA MOOC crew is extremely energetic and dynamic, they know they have some thing new and exciting and want to make it perform. So I really feel a little bit guilty to be on the ice and end now and then to solution mails and hold the speed and spirit up. All goes well. Do I now have distinct expectations from MOOCs? No, except that it is a great deal of operate to make 1. Strange, why is generating a video still so complex and so considerably operate and feels so primitive? Probably this is an chance for a startup. Some 17.000 individuals have joined me on the lake, all understanding to skate again for the very first time this 12 months. It feels like a enormous open outside course!

Kris Olds

Within Increased Ed | Site U


Producing the Most of MOOCs

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Higher Ed Mash Up

noria(1)Let’s begin with an old story about using technology to innovate in the classroom. In the 1990s, when the Internet was coming into its own, Professor Antonio Gonzalez at Wesleyan University found an early way to utilize this technology to enhance his class. He recited and recorded a poem, by early 20th century poet Antonio Machado, that students would listen to over the internet while they looked at the text of the poem. At a particular place in the poem, students would click on highlighted text to find a picture and explanation of a “noria,” a water well used traditionally in rural Spain, whose circular imagery and use of water are key to the understanding of the poem. When students arrived in his class, instead of listening to Professor Gonzalez read the poem and needing to imagine the symbol’s image and context, students were ready to dive into a discussion of its meaning.

Today more than ever, Inside Higher Ed and other daily higher education reports are replete with new ways of using technology that purportedly will transform colleges and universities.  Truth be told, many are not so new, others are not really scalable, and most are not transformative. As Alexandra Logue argues in her recent essay in Inside Higher Ed, “;it is not the existence of the latest technology or its potential uses that will help us to maximize student learning, but using what we know and have.”

To be sure, there will be major technological innovations that contribute to the shape of higher education.  The expanded use of MOOCs (massive open online courses) may rise to the top of the new ideas and have a very significant impact on higher education.

In the fall of 2011, Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig offered a MOOC on artificial intelligence and 160,000 people signed up.  While on-line learning is certainly not new, this course caught people’s imaginations given the large number of enrollees and the fact that the instructors came from Stanford.   Since that time, Thrun announced that he would leave Stanford and form Udacity, a company that specializes in MOOCs.

Within the past year, many prestigious institutions have jumped on the MOOC bandwagon. MIT, Harvard and, subsequently, Berkeley and the University of Texas, formed edX. Coursera was formed with a dozen or so high profiles institutions, Princeton and the University of Michigan among them, and now has 33 colleges and universities on board. Beyond the “;big three” of Coursera, Udacity, and edX, it was recently reported that course management systems, including BlackBoard, will incorporate MOOCs into their platforms. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the MOOC phenomenon is that there is no clear business model for how this mix of for-profit and not-for-profit entities will generate income.

This rapid rise of MOOCs and their endorsement by the most prestigious institutions in the country suggest that all institutions of higher education need to examine whether and how this innovation will change the way they operate. The question for Mash Up is: what impact does the growth and broad institutional acceptance of MOOCs have on institutions which blend the liberal arts with professional training?

The initial reaction of many of the institutions which strategically provide both liberal arts and professional degrees will be to reject the incorporation of MOOCs into their planning. After all, such institutions would claim that the liberal arts curriculum is about learning higher order skills like critical thinking which cannot be engendered in a class of thousands. They would add that professional training also requires interactions between professor and student as well as between student and student in a way that will build problem-solving skills for the workplace. MOOCs will be beneficial to some students and some institutions, but not ours.

There are many reasons to think again about the value of MOOCs.  All students, especially younger ones, are tech savvy and ready to utilize on-line learning resources.  MOOCs, TED talks, the Khan Academy, and related ventures offer exciting, current content that is difficult to match in a campus lecture hall.  And, most importantly, these on-line resources offer institutions the opportunity to realign their costs so that they can apply resources to strategic priorities.  

It is this last reason that is critical to the future of many institutions of higher education, including those trying to prepare students who are career ready and prepared for life.  Doing so is an expensive proposition.  It involves providing intimate settings where faculty, students and even staff interact and learn from one another.  While these settings are the opposite of a MOOC, they do not need to be in opposition.  Faculty and staff should be asking themselves how students can utilize MOOCs and other on-line resources to enhance the classroom experience. 

The answer could be as simple and elegant as recording a poem and linking to images that add visual meaning or as complex as linking an entire MOOC to a semester of activity in a traditional classroom setting. The goal should be to reserve classroom time for activities that can only be done in the classroom.  Similarly, instead of preparing and giving lectures, faculty time can be reallocated to the more intimate experiences that achieve instructional and institutional goals.  At Educause, Daphne Koller, of Stanford and Coursera spoke about utilizing MOOCs to get the “;mundane content” out of the classroom. She states as a goal to use precious classroom time for activities that can best be conducted in the classroom, for example, “;just-in-time teaching, real-world case studies, and team problem solving.”

Institutions should take stock of their mission and current strategic planning initiatives to ensure that they are not simply chasing after the newest trend in higher education.  It also is critical that they involve faculty and students in the process of determining how to incorporate MOOCs into their specific institutional culture.  If the planning is done in a strategic and inclusive manner and then communicated well to the outside, institutions stand to gain a competitive edge.

Historically, higher education has incorporated technology into the classroom -; e.g., slide projectors, video tapes, computer projection — at a snail’s pace. Because events are moving faster than ever and many institutions are facing existential threats, analyzing the value of an innovation too slowly puts an institution at risk. While at first glance MOOCs may not appear to be useful to you, looking more closely to see where they might be of use is a timely question.

William H. Weitzer is currently a Senior Fellow at the Spencer Foundation. After completing his Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology, he has served for thirty years in administrative positions at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Wesleyan University, and Fairfield University.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U


Did MOOCs Just Make Landfall? ten Questions to Take into account

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U


It seems we may have another big, unpredictable storm close to home -; MOOCs.   They have been getting a lot of press this year, and here's another recent article from the New York Times – "The Year of the MOOC."

Last week Inside Higher Ed announced a partnership between Coursera and Antioch University to license Coursera courses for Antioch degree programs. 

In short, here’s the business model:  Universities such as Duke and the University of Pennsylvania work with Coursera to produce massively open online courses (“MOOCs”) that are offered for free (at least until this point) through Coursera.  Some schools, like Antioch, may decide to license these courses and will pay Coursera a fee to do so.  Coursera will share the gross revenue and net profit from these licensed courses with the universities that produced the content.  The faculty that produced the course will also receive some revenue.  Schools like Antioch will offer these licensed MOOCs to their students, thus giving them access to a wider array of courses and instructors, including “;rock star” faculty from well-known universities.  Because the cost of licensing the content through Coursera will likely be smaller than the cost of hiring these well-known faculty to teach at the licensee school, universities like Antioch that work through Coursera can pass the savings on to students, thus lowering the cost of a degree. 

From the Antioch University website: “;Each Coursera course will be facilitated by an AULA faculty member who will also be enrolled in the course, thereby enabling both frequent interaction between students and instructor and augmentation of the course through supplemental exercises and projects focused on expanding the learning experience.”

Like a storm, the higher education landscape is in a swirl and small pivots may produce large, important changes.  We wonder whether this might be an early pivot . . . and potentially change who is in the path of the storm and who is considered safe -; for now, until the next pivot.  We’ve written about the dismantling of higher education,  potential business models for edX and content creators and distributors, how at least one student perceived his experience in the first MITx MOOC, and the multitude of factors impacting the higher education market right now, but this is something big -; the market just pivoted. 

Rather than try to predict the exact path -; and force -; of this new development in higher ed, we have a few questions that we all might consider as this unfolds:

1.     Will licensing of MOOCs created by highly-respected schools “;crowd out” faculty from the licensee schools?

2.     How might licensee schools feel about their new role as “;facilitators”?

3.     Will licensing MOOCs increase access?  Might organizations licensing the content decide to focus on fee-paying schools and create two tiers of content -; paid and free?

4.     If all schools have access to all of the same MOOCs, how will schools differentiate themselves in the marketplace to attract students?

5.     If different universities license the same course materials, but have different grading standards, how will we compare outcomes across universities?

6.     Might the difference between schools come from the quality of facilitation/support offered by licensee school faculty, rather than the MOOC faculty, since that will become widely available, and perhaps commoditized?

7.     If more schools use the license model, could we eventually end up with a handful of “;top” schools producing the content and a small number of large schools offering the degrees? 

8.     Will Coursera-type companies become the publishers in the new higher education market?

9.     Who decides what content/teachers are “;best”?  Will it become true that courses from Coursera partners will be viewed as “;superior” to courses from other schools because they are frequently licensed?

10.   Will license deals like this drive a wedge into the higher education market, essentially enhancing the star power of the best-known universities and leaving the schools with less-developed brands weaker?

So, higher education meteorologists, what does your weather satellite read? 

Dayna Catropa
Margaret Andrews

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U


MOOCs, Machines, and Music

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

School Prepared Writing
by under CC BY-ND



School Prepared Writing

Remember how I said that we really should take “clapping for credit” classes a lot more seriously (and a lot more usually)? Coursera (which Audrey Watters alluded to here on IHE but examines far more fully here) is supplying a MOOC in Listening to World Music. And Science Fiction and Fantasy! There is a complete list of intriguing classes getting provided. I’m drawn to the humanities offerings (I admittedly require to brush up on my Greek mythology, and I am a sucker for SF), but if I am trying to enhance the digital side of my DH academic identity, the computer system science courses may well be the way to go.

Since, as Audrey says, I have so considerably cost-free time on my hands.


Machine grading. There has been very a lot of discussion about this lately. I’ve been following the discussion on the WPA listserv, and added to the conversation by sending out Mark Bousquet’s piece outlining how robot grading is a logical conclusion to the drive to automate education. It’s a longer piece, but it’s really instructive and an important wake-up contact. I was astounded by the response I received, if only due to the fact a lot more and much more on the web/digital “services” for college students are fundamentally quote mining to make the investigation and writing process much more efficient.

As one response put it, we are the Ctrl (or Apple) +F generation. I wonder, though, how a lot (once yet again) the way larger education is set up truly can make us as complicit in this shift. In a publish or perish surroundings wherever quantity typically outweighs quality, how considerably do we really read, believe deeply, and genuinely realize all of these secondary sources we are necessary in numerous instances to include in any of our perform. I bear in mind for my qualifying examination in Globe Literature, we all received the comment, “superficial” on our solutions from one particular of the professors (who, notably, didn’t educate any classes in the program since of various program releases for investigation). My response was, what did you anticipate when you attempt to teach us ALL of world literature in two semesters, then ask us to research for 4 more months, then give us two hrs to hand-compose our solutions to two questions?

It’s remarkable to me that the two (politically) opposite Mark’s more than at the Brainstorm blog site (Bousquet and Bauerline) look to be coming down on the very same side of an issue. Bauerline talks about speed and how we publish also much, which fits in with the ideas Bousquet puts forward concerning the industrialization of education (and analysis). We are a Ctrl+F generation of academics simply because that’s what we have been told to become. Is it any wonder that we teach our students the exact same habits.


This week’s chat talked about ecocomposition and sustainable composition. I wonder if college students don’t see deep thinking and analysis/near reading through as sustainable offered their chaotic lives and the speed at which the globe moves these days. Productivity is key. And I know that they are more interested in breadth, not depth. I’m not saying they’re appropriate. I’m just saying that it’s an uphill battle, not only simply because of our students’ attitudes, but also due to the fact of the messages that we ourselves and the institutions are sending the students. For numerous of my college students, between working to assist shell out for school, taking care of family members, and having a daily life, there isn’t significantly time for deep pondering and shut, slow reading through.


Oh, by the way, the folks above at Coursera apparently are making an attempt to move AWAY from robot graders. Go figure. There’s more to creating and understanding than an algorythm? Radical notion.


This is late since I took the children to see the Imagination Movers in concert in Cincinnati. There have been tons and lots of families with each mothers and fathers there at a four PM show, and I doubt really much they have been all academic couples taking benefit of the flexibility academia offers. Looks like folks get to consider afternoons off in the “real planet” as nicely.

I’m not positive who was a lot more excited about the display, me or the young children. We also got to go to an smaller sized immediately after-celebration with the band. I hugely advise checking these guys out if you have kids under about the age of eight. Their music is great (and not just tolerable) they use rock, ska, New Wave, and punk influences in their music, and the lyrics variety from goofy to downright poignant. I also value the truth that they never talk down to kids, nor do they try out to dumb-down their music. They are genuinely wonderful guys from New Orleans who started producing music for their youngsters and grew to become (fairly) renowned. They asked us to spread the word about them.

Contemplate it spread.

Inside Increased Ed | Weblog U