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(26,594 posts)
25. I think the overlooked question here is what does a degree mean, and what
Sat Jul 27, 2013, 11:09 PM
Jul 2013

is the value of a degree anymore? You mention that you love the MIT and Harvard open courses, and I take it that you value them as a venue to learn as an independent scholar. That is a major strength of MOOCs and online instruction, and it adds to the venues for independent learning that have always existed (e.g. libraries).

However, a degree ought to mean something more than passing through a series of instructional activities - there needs to be assessment, feedback, interaction. These things take place through the mediation of faculty, and work best when those faculty are responsible for relatively small numbers of students (certainly not 1000s).

My main complaint about the general trend of online education - towards cost effective delivery - is that it cheapens the meaning of a degree by automating the assessment and reducing or eliminating the critical feedback. A degree (or even a course grade) becomes more like those ridiculous online training activities that are common in the corporate and academic world - read a bunch of slides, pass a multiple choice quiz, be careful not to go too fast or too slow, print out your certificate...

Sadly, I think universities have been too complicit in this cheapening, and in a way we're reaping what we've sewn. Too much on-campus undergraduate education has shifted toward super-large classrooms, scantron exams, and a reduced emphasis on writing and discussion. When we do that in the classrooms, it's no surprise when people start thinking that the same thing can be done even cheaper online - but the question shouldn't be whether it's cheaper, the question ought to be whether this is a true university education at all.

So I really don't believe that MOOCs or similar online structures are the proper way forward. They provide opportunities for motivated individuals, and probably can produce some sort of basic employment-level competence in a lot of fields, but I'm not convinced they will provide what a university degree ought to represent. At most, they might reasonably fill in for some entry-level foundational courses, where lower-level learning objectives can be met and assessed in a more automated fashion.

That said, I do think some of the online pedagogies have value. The flipped classroom model, for example, strikes me as interesting, and many of the interactive tools such as Elluminate for online sessions are useful...

Goodbye lecturers and adjunct professors. reformist2 Jul 2013 #1
Is college about the faculty or the students? (nt) Recursion Jul 2013 #2
both Vattel Jul 2013 #5
It's only a historical accident that has research done at universities subsidized by students Recursion Jul 2013 #10
so you say Vattel Jul 2013 #14
Well, I did tons of free labor in the lab in grad school Recursion Jul 2013 #15
A lot of excellent research is done at Universities. Vattel Jul 2013 #32
Because it is broke. Or, more to the point, it's making students and their families go broke. Recursion Jul 2013 #35
I am in favor of reducing the cost of education. Vattel Jul 2013 #40
You know what, if you can't live a modest living on a PH.D. after teaching for eighteen years then nebenaube Jul 2013 #63
bull. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #75
This message was self-deleted by its author HiPointDem Jul 2013 #89
it's not a historical 'accident' at all. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #90
These days? Neither. (nt) Posteritatis Jul 2013 #9
A university is primarily invested in research. It's secondary mission is education. Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #81
*some* universities. others aren't research institutions, primarily. units of higher education HiPointDem Jul 2013 #91
goodbye about half of our colleges and universities, and their staff. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #74
Again, is it about the students or the faculty? Recursion Jul 2013 #137
you don't know what you're talking about. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #142
What a substantive, cogent reply Recursion Jul 2013 #145
to an equally substantive, cogent comment. chait has no 'argument'. he has only an opinion, HiPointDem Jul 2013 #146
It does require a practitioner community. It doesn't require being in the same room as them. Recursion Jul 2013 #152
you don't even understand what practitioner community means. students are part of that HiPointDem Jul 2013 #201
You have a laughably naive view of MOOCs Recursion Jul 2013 #213
and you are deliberately spreading false information HiPointDem Jul 2013 #218
Having been an adjunct Shivering Jemmy Jul 2013 #189
First they came for....well fuck, they're just gonna get everyone! leftstreet Jul 2013 #3
And we should get rid of mechanical wheat-threshers, too. All those farmhands lost their jobs (nt) Recursion Jul 2013 #4
The farmhands should share in the profits leftstreet Jul 2013 #7
They absolutely should. That's what the minimum income is Recursion Jul 2013 #11
They should have but industrialism happened. joshcryer Jul 2013 #100
Bingo. We still have industrial age colleges Recursion Jul 2013 #138
such a stupid comment. the professed point of freeing people from manual labor was so they HiPointDem Jul 2013 #79
I don't think the purpose of higher education is job training Recursion Jul 2013 #147
yes, job training is indeed one of the purposes of higher education, and always has been. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #149
Certainly not "always"; the original purpose was religious Recursion Jul 2013 #150
"the original purpose was religious" is a vague statement that obscures the reality; it was the HiPointDem Jul 2013 #154
"and always will" joshcryer Jul 2013 #168
Exactly. tblue Jul 2013 #61
and they'll get an even shorter end with moocs. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #80
Have you ever tried MIT's Open Courseware? Recursion Jul 2013 #155
You should try some MOOCs Ms. Toad Jul 2013 #172
They've only been talking about this for the past 30 years. Major Hogwash Jul 2013 #6
As if critical thinking isn't low enough in this country. Lets lower the bar some more. nt adirondacker Jul 2013 #8
Well, expensive face-to-face classes don't seem to be helping much Recursion Jul 2013 #12
I went to a state liberal arts college where seminar/debate was a mandatory part of adirondacker Jul 2013 #17
I went to a tiny liberal arts college that was entirely discussion-based Recursion Jul 2013 #19
I actually think smaller colleges are part of the solution. There should be no reason adirondacker Jul 2013 #36
I got a degree because I wanted to learn what I learned. People shouldn't need a degree to get a job Recursion Jul 2013 #37
I think that diminshes what a degree actually is supposed to represent. I know plenty of good test adirondacker Jul 2013 #42
If you don't want the name "degree" attached to it, call it something else Recursion Jul 2013 #43
I agree with where you went with that, but what happened with vocational training? Don't they adirondacker Jul 2013 #48
oh, they'll still pay plenty. the only difference will be that they'll pay it to the gates-google- HiPointDem Jul 2013 #77
No; MIT, Harvard, and CMU do it for free Recursion Jul 2013 #139
lol. not for credit, they won't. and for credit is where they're aiming. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #143
Yes, they will be free for credit once they get accrediting boards agree Recursion Jul 2013 #148
it's a sin to lie, you know. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #151
So stop lying. Harvard and MIT have been very clear about this Recursion Jul 2013 #153
oh baloney. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #162
"The first five"? MIT offers every course in its UG catalog for free right now. (nt) Recursion Jul 2013 #164
there is no degree, and no credit. if you want credit a/o a degree you will pay. it will never HiPointDem Jul 2013 #167
There will be, and it will still be free Recursion Jul 2013 #169
show me where mit is going to make their degrees free. show me where they are offering free HiPointDem Jul 2013 #171
That's the entire explicit point of open courseware Recursion Jul 2013 #176
If OCW becomes accredited, the whole artificial scarcity of credits goes out the window. joshcryer Jul 2013 #180
if it's so 'explicit,' where is the explicit statement, recursion? quit blowing smoke. your links HiPointDem Jul 2013 #187
+1, a edX credit is going to be more valuable than a college level credit. joshcryer Jul 2013 #173
More value placed on the degree and credit than the knowledge. joshcryer Jul 2013 #170
I'd like a link to Harvard's statements Ms. Toad Jul 2013 #177
EdX being free is the whole point Recursion Jul 2013 #178
Not quite. Ms. Toad Jul 2013 #181
again, a link which doesn't address your claim. stop blowing smoke. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #220
Where will the funding for them come from? muriel_volestrangler Jul 2013 #183
Actually - that is not entirely clear. Ms. Toad Jul 2013 #175
Obviously they will want to charge for credits and degrees. joshcryer Jul 2013 #179
I was responding to the person who is insisting Ms. Toad Jul 2013 #182
I don't know if your certificate is accredited. joshcryer Jul 2013 #185
It isn't accredited. Ms. Toad Jul 2013 #192
Saw your post #181. That sucks. joshcryer Jul 2013 #195
I think they're still trying to figure out a good business model. Ms. Toad Jul 2013 #223
Are you joking? Face to face courses are the last bastion of proper education. Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #83
I have taken a few coursea classes the past year Mojorabbit Jul 2013 #101
My undergrad faculty were just there to keep discussions on track Recursion Jul 2013 #144
I learned a lot in my online courses as well. kickitup Jul 2013 #215
The reason that college tuition has risen is NOT instructional costs. It is primarily three things: leveymg Jul 2013 #13
I've seen several analyses, all of which make points Recursion Jul 2013 #16
It's actually a similar problem to housing - declining interest rates have inflated prices. reformist2 Jul 2013 #18
My grad school had a pool with a lazy river. A LAZY ****ING RIVER Recursion Jul 2013 #22
LOL! Did you at least get to use it? :) reformist2 Jul 2013 #26
Hell yes. I brought my pool noodle every Saturday and floated while pondering stochastic processes Recursion Jul 2013 #27
Too funny. Maybe the colleges of the future will have waterslides and rollercoasters. reformist2 Jul 2013 #34
. BadgerKid Jul 2013 #44
Nice! Glad you made use of it. adirondacker Jul 2013 #45
For some reason I thought you were talking of the Ramen variety. joshcryer Jul 2013 #128
Instructional and university salaries have not even kept up with inflation. leveymg Jul 2013 #59
This message was self-deleted by its author HiPointDem Jul 2013 #82
bullshit. what part of the payroll, recursion? high-paid useless administrators. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #85
And they build waterslides and lazy rivers and alumni houses and football stadiums Recursion Jul 2013 #156
yes, the useless administrators do indeed build waterslides, and they do it *in order to* HiPointDem Jul 2013 #159
and big increases in administrative overhead. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #78
"...big increases in administrative overhead." KansDem Jul 2013 #165
I get the difference customerserviceguy Jul 2013 #20
That's what I was thinking: do it for the 101 and 201 classes Recursion Jul 2013 #23
Absolutely customerserviceguy Jul 2013 #31
doubtful since most of those large lecture classes were taught by the grad students who also HiPointDem Jul 2013 #92
Let the employer decide if they want a real graduate or a MOOC graduate. n-t Logical Jul 2013 #21
I've rarely considered education when I've had input in hiring Recursion Jul 2013 #24
I agree, I am a programmer...... Logical Jul 2013 #30
Right. I've seen ads for web developers that ask for a BS in CS Recursion Jul 2013 #38
I also think some people, no matter how much school, just can't code a lick. Either because.... Logical Jul 2013 #39
Very true. My hiring "quiz" usually has two parts Recursion Jul 2013 #190
Love that emphasis on pattern recognition and searching. joshcryer Jul 2013 #198
A BS in CS should mean that. joshcryer Jul 2013 #207
I think the overlooked question here is what does a degree mean, and what petronius Jul 2013 #25
I agree with Chait that a MOOC isn't particularly different from a large lecture session Recursion Jul 2013 #33
You've said a lot of things I wish I could have said as well. eppur_se_muova Jul 2013 #62
Agreed, 'training' is not 'education'... n/t nebenaube Jul 2013 #65
"those ridiculous online training activities that are common in the corporate and academic world" HiPointDem Jul 2013 #87
The door has been opened for competency based degrees vs credit hours aikoaiko Jul 2013 #28
Some college professors are... Egnever Jul 2013 #29
While I question his motivation, he is absolutely correct. The author of this piece fails to Egalitarian Thug Jul 2013 #41
So let people get an all- or mostly-MOOC AA or AS Recursion Jul 2013 #46
if it's needless, then we don't need moocs either. if qualification inflation is the real problem, HiPointDem Jul 2013 #93
You're conflating two issues Recursion Jul 2013 #157
i'm not the one who brought up 'needless' degrees, you did. so in fact it's you doing any HiPointDem Jul 2013 #161
There have been inroads into computerized testing. BadgerKid Jul 2013 #47
we can outsource obama's job and save millions as well. or any president for that matter nt msongs Jul 2013 #49
A good paper about Physics MOOCs from Georgia Tech Pholus Jul 2013 #50
Unless you have someone willing to tutor/support you exboyfil Jul 2013 #56
It is the personal contact that makes the difference. Pholus Jul 2013 #134
no more likely to watch something less rigorous. college is not a video game. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #95
You remove the necessary intellectual challenge of true education with this technique. Pholus Jul 2013 #135
I think participation rates are a cost-benefit thing. joshcryer Jul 2013 #102
I can see some use for MOOC's. Pholus Jul 2013 #141
I think back in forth in college level classes is misstated. joshcryer Jul 2013 #204
Glad I don't have your experience... Pholus Jul 2013 #214
"then you've wasted your educational dollars" joshcryer Jul 2013 #225
Huh. In my experience they're better for STEM than humanities Recursion Jul 2013 #158
It's basically DIY education. If that's what they're offering, tuition ought to be $300 a year. reformist2 Jul 2013 #196
Any objection is rubbish. David__77 Jul 2013 #51
the object is to eliminate real college for a large part of the population. any claim that moocs HiPointDem Jul 2013 #94
This is a special case exboyfil Jul 2013 #52
I'm OK if Drs make less, not OK about nurses making less on point Jul 2013 #53
From $80 to $100K for an undergraduate degree exboyfil Jul 2013 #58
Going forward we should subsidize the education so this expense is not there - like other countries on point Jul 2013 #103
If you can't think of a reason in principle enlightenment Jul 2013 #54
i doubt that one has thought of them at all. the point is to support the administration. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #96
A college education isn't about the presentation of information, wickerwoman Jul 2013 #55
Well, enjoy. Starry Messenger Jul 2013 #57
Given MOOC track records, kiva Jul 2013 #60
The federal government needs to man up and spend the freakin money to fund education. liberal_at_heart Jul 2013 #64
Great idea! DeSwiss Jul 2013 #66
Thank you. a la izquierda Jul 2013 #129
What is truly sad is that this is an out moded means of leaning: Lecture emsimon33 Jul 2013 #67
Thank you. This is one of the biggest problems with our education system right now. liberal_at_heart Jul 2013 #68
i guess i`m old fashioned madrchsod Jul 2013 #69
you are not the only one who is old fashioned. There are many of us who want the government to liberal_at_heart Jul 2013 #71
There are a bunch of free on line courses out there.... WCGreen Jul 2013 #70
I took a couple of online courses. I read some and took a few multiple choice tests. That was the liberal_at_heart Jul 2013 #72
It's great for guys like me who are forced to stay close to home WCGreen Jul 2013 #73
Online classes should definitely be an option and they are. I'm glad you have the option and liberal_at_heart Jul 2013 #76
Then you didn't engage with the course. Don't feel bad; plenty of students don't engage in person Recursion Jul 2013 #160
Thank you. kickitup Jul 2013 #216
the research also shows that the overwhelming majority of people who start moocs never go HiPointDem Jul 2013 #221
Tuition has increased because universities have seen massive cuts in public funding. Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #84
exactly. liberal_at_heart Jul 2013 #86
The idea that academics live cushy, lavish lives is a right-wing meme. Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #88
Online education should offer students the same opportunities as personal education. alp227 Jul 2013 #97
Let's just computerize everything and get rid of those pesky people. highprincipleswork Jul 2013 #98
Yikes. Nerve. Hit. joshcryer Jul 2013 #99
There are many ways to gauge agency and level of education is one of them. Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #105
Under the current model education is the primary gauge, imo. joshcryer Jul 2013 #106
Obtaining a PhD in physics is a legitimation of your knowledge of physics. Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #108
Oh, fair enough, for PhDs, which is beyond MOOC purpose. joshcryer Jul 2013 #110
So it seems your goal is simply to reduce the overall level of education... Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #112
If student learning subsidizes degree programs, there's something wrong with that. joshcryer Jul 2013 #113
Higher education should be free to anyone who wants to do the work required to get the degree. Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #114
I agree. Higher education should be free. joshcryer Jul 2013 #117
I have a problem with MOOCs because they fail utterly at educating. Gravitycollapse Jul 2013 #120
Then what is there to be worried about? joshcryer Jul 2013 #123
No, they don't; I've learned a ton from them Recursion Jul 2013 #166
Have you actually taken any? Ms. Toad Jul 2013 #224
^^^ That. So that. Recursion Jul 2013 #163
So no one here has heard of the hugely successful "Open University"? intaglio Jul 2013 #104
Wow, OU offers accrediation. Impressive. joshcryer Jul 2013 #107
Well, there you go, more useless parasites will be losing their worthless positions Fumesucker Jul 2013 #109
I argue that for profit MOOCs cannot compete with non-profit MOOCs. joshcryer Jul 2013 #111
At this juncture you think actual facts have anything to do with political decisions? Fumesucker Jul 2013 #115
They might but I don't see the people putting up with it. joshcryer Jul 2013 #118
Dire for whom? Fumesucker Jul 2013 #121
The MOOCs? joshcryer Jul 2013 #122
The people pay attention to what the media point at as the next shiny object du jour Fumesucker Jul 2013 #124
I don't think the media can hide or justify a 90% fail rate. joshcryer Jul 2013 #125
Next thing you know Obama will be looking under the Oval Office rug for the 90% failures Fumesucker Jul 2013 #126
You see the irony here, no? joshcryer Jul 2013 #127
I'm not really complaining about anything at all Fumesucker Jul 2013 #131
I'm of a different persuasion. joshcryer Jul 2013 #132
I don't disagree with that, I think a lot of people just aren't interested though Fumesucker Jul 2013 #133
University of Maryland has a great online program. mattclearing Jul 2013 #116
We have already witnessed technology killing newspapers and postal delivery mick063 Jul 2013 #119
what we're actually witnessing is the death of journalism & scholarship, and their replacement HiPointDem Jul 2013 #136
Do you have more or less access to good reporting now than you did 15 years ago? Recursion Jul 2013 #174
that depends on what you label as 'reporting' & as 'access'. every capitalist restructuring HiPointDem Jul 2013 #184
I drink Rock Creek soda. Your city probably has one too. Recursion Jul 2013 #188
FYI poster believes Publishers > authors. joshcryer Jul 2013 #191
oh you individual you. and that's all that really matters, isn't it? that individuals like you HiPointDem Jul 2013 #193
Again: how much reportage? How much music? How many books? Recursion Jul 2013 #194
for the old gatekeepers, new ones, and fewer of them. except that they're pretty much the HiPointDem Jul 2013 #197
I didn't pay Amazon anything Recursion Jul 2013 #199
yes, they took a cut of sales, in other words you paid amazon. so how big was their cut, HiPointDem Jul 2013 #200
See what I mean? joshcryer Jul 2013 #202
Professors aren't making the money from rising tuition. a la izquierda Jul 2013 #130
An interesting read melm00se Jul 2013 #140
Unsustainable is how interventions happen BeyondGeography Jul 2013 #186
A bad idea whose time has come Bragi Jul 2013 #203
I love online classes. I've taken dozens of classes since 2006. AllINeedIsCoffee Jul 2013 #205
Higher learning is about to open up for sufrommich Jul 2013 #206
How dare you suggest everyone have equal access to information! joshcryer Jul 2013 #209
MOOCs and/or MOOA... Deuce Jul 2013 #208
Johns Hopkins frowning on MOOCs. joshcryer Jul 2013 #210
don't get me started.... mike_c Jul 2013 #211
LOL. Who do you imagine is profiting from EdX or OCW? Recursion Jul 2013 #212
who do you suppose is using those sorts of MOOCs for credit? mike_c Jul 2013 #217
+1. The hype about 'free' courses is a loss leader strategy. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #222
+1. HiPointDem Jul 2013 #219
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