[FoRK] E-Learning 2.0: Dense and entertaining

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Sat Jul 21 11:56:27 PDT 2012

On 7/20/12 6:34 PM, Stephen Williams wrote:
> On 7/20/12 2:25 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> On 7/20/12 12:47 PM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
>> ...
>> http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700221392/Stanford-professor-resigns-launches-Udacity-Free-online-university-level-computer-science.html?pg=all 
>> If I weren't so busy, I'd be taking as many of these as I could again. As it was, I didn't have time for those two classes, but 
>> it had to be done. Awesome that those pioneers shamed the university professors, and the system to some extent, into opening up 
>> like this. 2011/2012 has clearly been the year of higher education soul searching, among other things.
>> http://www.thenation.com/blog/168538/sullivan-resignation-spotlights-debate-about-online-education#
>> " massively open online courses, known colloquially as MOOCs"
> http://www.xconomy.com/national/2012/07/20/can-anyone-catch-khan-academy-the-fate-of-the-u-in-the-youtube-era/?single_page=true
> http://chronicle.com/article/How-an-Upstart-Company-Might/133065/

July 17, 2012
After Leadership Crisis Fueled by Distance-Ed Debate, UVa Will Put Free Classes Online

By Nick DeSantis

Before the University of Virginia's president, Teresa A. Sullivan, was abruptly removed from office last month, her critics on UVa's 
governing board expressed anxiety about being left behind in the emerging technological arms race on university campuses.

Their wait now appears to be over.

On Tuesday, Virginia is joining a group of 12 institutions that plan to open their courses to the world, free of charge, through an 
online platform created by the start-up company Coursera.

Tuesday's announcement puts an ironic twist on the university's tumultuous leadership crisis last month, in which Ms. Sullivan was 
forced out of office only to be reinstated 16 days later. The fracas was set in motion by critics on the board, including the 
rector, Helen E. Dragas, who worried that Ms. Sullivan's self-described "incrementalist" approach to higher education meant that 
Virginia might soon be eclipsed by other elite universities that have experimented with open online courses.

Virginia is one of a dozen institutions this week that are teaming up with the Silicon Valley upstart, which was founded by two 
Stanford University professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng. Their company evolved out of Stanford's experiments last year with 
massive open online courses, popularly known as MOOC's. Mr. Ng taught one of those courses, on an area of computer science called 
machine learning, to roughly 100,000 students.

Elite universities have since scrambled to jump on the open-course bandwagon. In April, Coursera signed its first agreements with 
four partners—Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Stanford—to allow 
nearly anyone with an Internet connection to enroll in courses free. Two weeks later, Harvard University and the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology announced a plan to invest $60-million in a similar course platform called edX. Since announcing its first 
partnerships, Ms. Koller said roughly 690,000 students had used the platform for 1.6 million enrollments.
What the Future Holds

Ms. Sullvan said in a written statement that she was "pleased" that Virginia was joining the ranks of universities experimenting 
with Coursera.

"These classes will expand the university's role in global education while reinforcing our core mission of teaching, research, and 
public service," she said. "They will in no way diminish the value of a UVa degree, but rather enhance our brand and allow others to 
experience the learning environment of [Thomas] Jefferson's Academical Village."

In a nod to those who had criticized her deliberate leadership style, she added, "it's critical for UVa to be in on the ground floor 
so that we can learn along with our peers what the future holds."

J. Milton Adams, the university's vice provost for academic programs, said faculty members' dealings with Coursera began in April, 
well before the controversy erupted over Ms. Sullivan's tenure as president. This week's agreement, he said, was "completely 
unrelated to the board's questions and actions with President Sullivan." He added, however, that the board's concerns about the 
university's online strategy probably helped accelerate the deal with Coursera.

The agreement, Mr. Adams said, would allow Virginia to fulfill its mission as a public institution of higher education, and would 
give faculty members a virtual testing ground that they could use to improve their courses. At the outset, Virginia professors will 
teach five classes in a range of disciplines, including business, science, and history.

Two European institutions—the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, and the University of Edinburgh, in 
Scotland—are also among the dozen institutions to sign up on Tuesday with Coursera. The Swiss university may offer a programming 
course in French. Coursera's founders hope that multilingual shift means its partners will be able to reach even more students than 
they have so far.

Mr. Ng said the commitments from a dozen institutions signal that massive open classes for students across the globe won't be going 
away anytime soon.

"This is a sign that the world is different, that MOOC's are not a passing fad," said Mr. Ng. "They are here to stay."

The nine other universities joining Coursera are the California Institute of Technology, Duke University, the Georgia Institute of 
Technology, the Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, the University of California at San Francisco, the University of Illinois 
at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Toronto, and the University of Washington.

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rebekahk 12 hours ago

This is an
interesting topic. Free online
courses for anybody is a new concept for me. I can see the benefit from a global perspective – adding ideas
from differing cultures to the classroom.
I’m not sure how this will impact education as a whole. How will students/parent feel when they
pay for their education while others may obtain it for free?

rebekahk 12 hours ago

This is an
interesting topic. Free online
courses for anybody is a new concept for me. I can see the benefit from a global perspective – adding ideas
from differing cultures to the classroom.
I’m not sure how this will impact education as a whole. How will students/parent feel when they
pay for their education while others may obtain it for free?

inciteful 3 days ago

UVa's announcement of its partnership with Coursera stated that no funds were being exchanged. If this venture is to help UVa, 
financially, how is this partnership monetized? Where's the financial benefit to UVa? Or is it the hypothesis that having UVa's name 
widely publicized will result in...what? If there is a business model for joining the online world of education, what is it?
1 person liked this.

california 2 days ago in reply to inciteful

UVa needs to pay its bills. Free is not a good way to go. U-Wash is doing these classes for credit. There are so many problems in 
terms of cheating, false enrollments, etc. So if you want people around the world to be able to listen to lectures that's one thing. 
But to have them be able to get certificates for courses that other students grade them on, and perhaps take for them, there is no 
value. The Honor Code is dead, that's for sure.

Keith Williams 2 days ago in reply to inciteful

There is no clear business model, as I and many other have noted. The university is, should be, and always will be deeply rooted in 
its sense of place and the grounded education that it provides.

What these early explorations represent is a tentative willingness by a few faculty to experiment, test the waters, and see if there 
is instructional benefit. I believe that I have found a way to make that work, but again it is very experimental. I know of no one 
who has a clear theory about how to monetize the online material while also retaining reputation associated with the on-campus material.

if the online efforts start to threaten the reputation of on-grounds curriculum, I can tell you that the finest teachers will 
depart. You can bank on that.

california 2 days ago in reply to Keith Williams

And where will these professors go? There are many places with this free model.

UVa's reputation is already being compromised, because accountability and the Honor Code have been tossed out by either Dragas or 
Sullivan, whichever of these two pushed this idea. This model does not pay the bills.

I suspect the organizations running the show will use this program to mine data and sell it. Were any privacy agreements reached?

Keith Williams 3 days ago

I am one of the #UVa faculty who is considering an online offering in the fall. Like several others, I am doing this to explore the 
medium and see what's what.

Regarding revenue, my understanding is that there will be ~zero revenue from online participants. Rather, the idea is to interface 
students with a much broader community, i.e. in a sense to open some big windows in the classroom and let students interact. 
Obviously, the motive is also to advertise some of the great teaching and thought that happens at UVa (and at other schools where 
similar initiatives are already in place).

I think all of us are going into this with our eyes wide open. I am sure there will be successes and there will be failures. We are 
all well aware of the concerns about diluting the value of existing curriculum etc. Yes it certainly does matter to many of us that 
UVa's "academical village" just happens to be a world heritage site, with so much historical and cultural value attached to the 
school's sense of place. *No* one, least of all myself, wants to reduce the value of the on-campus, personal education. This is not 
about replacing or supplanting... it's about supplementing and experimenting, to see what we can do.

Obviously, there are many core concerns that thoughtful pragmatists will need to work through, even as highly partisan elements on 
either side continue to bombard us with their arguments :)

Full disclosure: my initial bias is very strongly in favor of a flipped / blended approach, in which the in-person component is 
actually expanded. I have written quite a lot about the need for more practical training in higher ed, particularly in the S&T 
fields, but I also recognize the need to open the instructional funnel much more and see if we can find benefit for everyone- most 
importantly the students.

We'll see if my opinions change, if and when I do undertake an online offering. My ideas might be too "out there" for my 
institution... time will tell!

hwy61trvlr 3 days ago

I'll be interested in seeing the first articles that come out about faculty getting punished by administrators because they say 
something unpopular or that 'misrepresents' the university to an audience of thousands over the Internet
1 person liked this.

Keith Williams 2 days ago in reply to hwy61trvlr

Well, at least at UVa, the Board is doing most of the misrepresenting these days.
1 person liked this.

Elizabeth E. Daniel 3 days ago

The 16-day "recent unpleasantnesss' would have been completely avoided had Dragas communicated openly, honestly and with integrity 
with everyone in the first place. Even though McDonnell reappointed her to the BOV, the Virginia General Assembly must approve her 
appointment. Please write to your Virginia district delegate and senator to ask them to vote "NO" on Dragas' reappointment. And, get 
behind the movement for reform of the structure of the BOV. http://www.facebook.com/#!/gro...
2 people liked this.

awegweiser 3 days ago

And who and how is all this free stuff paid for? What is the hidden catch? I discovered long ago that free lunch is not free - and 
sometimes it is not even a decent lunch.
1 person liked this.

Keith Williams 2 days ago in reply to awegweiser

This is the big question on everyone's minds. So far there are quite a few instructors willing to do the new, cool thing... on a 
quasi-volunteer, experimental basis. If and when money starts to flow, that will change! I see all kinds of ways for Coursera and 
other businesses to profit, but... then what. This needs to be carefully planned, but frankly this is all very experimental at this 
point. No one really knows where this leads but they are afraid to be the last to find out that it's a Really Big Deal.

The usual business case is that the online offerings will increase outreach and may eventually encourage participants to enroll in 
on-campus courses or other online offerings that will then generate earnings for the schools.

But please note: the UVa context is quite different from that of the many publics that may actually want to grow their enrollment. 
UVa is *already* having serious difficulties accommodating the students it has on grounds, in terms of instructors, instructional 
space, and housing... not to mention student-teacher ratio. The Governor, Board and certain administrators sometimes seem oblivious 
to this, to the dismay of those of us who actually worry about such trivialities.

I suppose one idea is that the overcrowding issue can be solved, in the early coursework, with online offerings. But my concern is 
that the first year students are the ones who need the most in-person advising and academic counsel. We don't *need* to reduce the 
size of the classes in the 3rd/4th yr classes. We desperately need to reduce the size of the classes taken by *1st* year students.
1 person liked this.

rutan 3 days ago

My experience with students auditing my classes is that, at first, they are gung-ho and involved, but as the semester progresses 
this dissolves along with their commitment and attendance. So, while it sounds welcoming and positive on the surface, it really 
doesn't accomplish much. As a result, I just don't do it anymore. Most college students are motivated toward a degree, and the 
course for credit is an investment toward that degree. The love of learning is a by-product at best, and non-existent, at worse. 
Sorry to dampen this enthusiasm about free online courses, but it seems more symbolic, laced with a bit of posturing to enhance the 
image of the university.
2 people liked this.

arrive2__net 3 days ago

It may be easier to scale up teaching than it is to scale up learning, that still takes time and unique individual effort. I 
remember the dot com bubble where many tech companies rushed to get internet visitor numbers, but didn't have a monetizing model so 
the whole mighty apparatus crashed and only the strong survived. Students will have to still learn well for the model to work, so
the MOOC model in my mind still has to prove itself. I think it will prove itself...but at the same time many students will prefer 
to learn in a more sedate and personal setting. Many students today hate being in a class of 300 on campus, will they willingly move 
to a class of far-away thousands instead? Here's to the future of higher education...

Bart Schuster

jald3724 3 days ago

Please note that nearly every comment on this article deals with who will or will not make money off of online learning, with public 
benefit apparently irrelevant. Most of these issues are empirical and will be resolved by trial and careful analysis of the 
consequences, but the fact that the consequences of interest are overwhelmingly financial is a perfect illustration of what happens 
when universities cease to be public agencies supported by taxes. We either become fast buck artists with our eye on quarterly 
profits, or tailor our activities to the demands of foundations run by wealthy eccentrics.
3 people liked this.

california 2 days ago in reply to jald3724

Universities also need to pay their workers.

california 3 days ago

 From the article below. Some universities will offer these online classes for credit. However, students are grading the papers. 


"'I would not want to give credit until somebody figures out how to solve the cheating problem and make sure that the right person, 
using the right materials, is taking the tests,' said Antonio Rangel, a Caltech professor who will teach Principles of Economics for 
Scientists in the fall. Udacity recently announced plans to have students pay $80 to take exams at testing centers operated around 
the world by Pearson, a global education company."

"Grading presents some questions, too. Coursera’s humanities courses use peer-to-peer grading, with students first having to show 
that they can match a professor’s grading of an assignment, and then grade the work of five classmates, in return for which their 
work is graded by five fellow students. But, Ms. Koller said, what would happen to a student who cannot match the professor’s 
grading has not been determined."

suzinia 3 days ago

Dragas needs to go..she is out of touch with the academic model Guess what, not everyone is interested in money or profit.
1 person liked this.

matthew6 3 days ago in reply to suzinia

I guess that's why faculty never complain about being under paid and why tuition at state schools continues to rise at a rate well 
in excess of the rate of inflation, because not everyone is interested in money. I'm sure that's why the alumni association calls me 
every year for donations.
1 person liked this.

suzinia 3 days ago in reply to matthew6

faculy ARE underpaid. Everyone needs to live. Executive salaries are beyond what is needed.
1 person liked this.

matthew6 2 days ago in reply to suzinia

Suzinia - that is precisely my point (sorry if my sarcasm didn't carry through). Faculty will be asked to devote time and resources 
to developing, teaching, maintaining, and managing these free courses - but likely won't see any increase in compensation since 
there is not revenue stream associated with them.

So, how will these universities pay for those resources needed to put these on? Increase tuition and fees? Underfund other programs?

Everyone should be concerned with university revenue and how it is spent - just as they are concerned with their own paycheck and 
personal profit. Faculty shouldn't be expected (or asked) to "break even" - the executives certainly are not!

I am afraid that it is the culture of everyone not being interested in money or profit that has allowed everything to get so out of 
balance - for priorities to get so skewed. As long as faculty and staff are not concerned with how money is brought in and how it is 
spent, then we will continue to see the executives and administrators who are concerned with it get bigger perks and pay raises, 
while faculty remain underpaid.
1 person liked this.

JD Eveland 3 days ago

Between the other Chronicle article on the UK requiring open publication for government-sponsored research and this, we have 
evidence that the old
academic order is melting faster than the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Academic warming and global warming are racing each other to see which
can drown the old order faster. Or if you'd like a different metaphor,
consider Crane Brinton's model of revolutions; we seem to be at about
1790-1791, with the moral collapse of the old (academic) order now
filling with a wide variety of options and ideas as the leaders rush to
get in front of the pack of their followers. Coursera looks like the
National Assembly. Somewhere, of course, the Jacobins are gathering, and
the equivalent of the guillotine is being sharpened (possibly
Department of Education takeover of the regional accreditors? It's being
mooted about.) At any rate, forces are gathering. Fasten your seat belts; it's going to be a bumpy night!
3 people liked this.

wildstrawberry 3 days ago

Dragas did not want free classes. She wanted a cash cow to fund her projects and run UVa as a business. The way she plowed her way 
through the University when she tried to get rid of President Sullivan has now handicapped her. She now has to compromise to appear 
to get along. How long this will last is anyone's guess.
4 people liked this.

eelalien 3 days ago

While it's good to know that UVa is finally joining the rest of the world in providing online courses (a generally positive move, 
when done right), why on earth are they going down the rabbit hole of the unknown - the free course path? Just to appear "modern"...?!
3 people liked this.

dr_aj 4 days ago

Just when I thought UVA couldn't look any worse in the eyes of academe, they go and offer free online courses. Boy, they're right up 
there with the U. of Phoenix in my eyes--I wouldn't recommend my students to apply to UVA's graduate programs!
1 person liked this.

matthew6 4 days ago

Sullivan is quoted as saying: "it's critical for UVa to be in on the ground floor so that we can learn along with our peers what the 
future holds."

Wow, the "ground floor" of online education at the collegiate level - and UVa is going to be a pioneer with this new Internet thingie.

Maybe Dragas and the board had a point after all.
2 people liked this.

embuckles 4 days ago

Free online courses. In other words, like some universities already do, those interested can read things, about the subject, online 
but will not be able to earn credit towards a degree. Fine for those interested in informally studying a subject on their own. Even 
so, the only way to actually earn a degree will be to gain admission, to go to the campus (which can be a major problem for many 
people, especially working adults, parents, etc.), sit in a crowded classroom, and listen to the professor in person. Job security 
for the professors, inconvenience for the students. Mind you, I do respect the professors and wish them well, wish them job security 
also. Even so, while some people need and thrive on in person instruction, some people are just as happy with, thrive on not having 
to go to a classroom, reading and studying in front of their computer in the comfort of their home a times convenient for them. 
Surely we can work something out so that higher education is not just for the wealthy elite, making it more widely available, in a 
manner which makes everybody happy. By the way, one Army military science professor, a West Point graduate, once put forth the idea 
that since the United States does not have royalty and a level of society which would be our nobility, we have caused college 
attendance and graduation to produce a sort of "nobility" for us. If that is true, perhaps that would explain some of the resistance 
to online education.

california 3 days ago in reply to embuckles

If they don't charge for online, the professors eventually will have even less job security. The whole thing seems a bit idioticfrom 
the viewpoint of an institution with bills to pay. And there is no prestige to online courses that give certificates to anyone who 
registers and has anyone complete the work.

11127786 4 days ago

In larger conventional classes, there are always some quiet or shy students who rarely or never participate in classroom 
discussion.One advantage, in my opinion, to a properly-taught online course is that the professor is able to directly interact with 
every student, every week; 'directly' can be asynchronous, synchronous and even video chat. . A second advantage, in my opinion, is 
that the quality of class discussions can be very good because each student has plenty of time to compose a contribution and the 
professor, with appropraite monitoring, can easily and courteously re-direct the discussion to stay on topic. Trying to do this in 
an online class of more than 25 students, in my experience, is very time-consuming but that's what teaching is all about.

Large intro classes can't do this. In my department, for example, we add 'lab' sections of 30 or less students to the large intro 
classes, in an effort to put some teaching into the course. In an earlier era, the other model -- presenting information and testing 
to see if the information has been acquired -- started with correspondence courses which, in my recollection, awarded certificates 
of completion. MOOCs are, I think, the high-tech equivalent of the old correspondence course. These were well-suited to fact-based 
material such as how the internal combustion engine works. MOOCs will focus on such topics, or, will render discussible material 
into a factual format. Individual students taking a MOOC can't personally interact with the person who is 'directing' or 
'organizing' the MOOC; substantive questions at best will be relegated to a committee of teaching assistants and at worst to a 
subset of other students taking the MOOC. Nevertheless, it's a model that has worked for many many years and I see no reason why it 
won't continue to work.

I have not studied the history of the rise of the correspndence course; it would be nice to hear from someone who has. My hunch is 
that as correspondence courses became more popular, the hue and cry from orthodox academics was something like the current reaction 
to MOOCs.
5 people liked this.

embuckles 4 days ago in reply to 11127786

I once took a correspondence course in Social Research from a large, public university. I had to read the text, submit assignments 
and produce a final paper. Any questions I had were submitted in writing to the professor and he answered in writing. I could call 
him during offices hours by telephone if I wished. I had to show up on campus and take a proctored final exam (could have done it at 
a local high school or community college where someone approved would have received the exam, watched me while I took it, then sent 
it in to the university but I went to the university to take the exam). That professor was very demanding, I worked hard on the 
course at my convenience, within the set period of time. I learned a great deal from that course, I did not cheat and I truly earned 
my final grade. As for the rise of the correspondence course, I think that they got started way back in the 1800s. They gained 
popularity to a certain extent and became more widely available in the 20th century until online courses started taking over in the 
1990s. Some regionally accredited colleges and universities would allow up to one fourth of one's degree credit to be earned through 
correspondence courses. Some would allow only a very few correspondence courses to count towards a degree. Medical schools would 
usually allow NO corresponence courses to be counted in consideration for admission to their programs and they offered no 
correspondence courses themselves, however, some other non-medical graduate and professional schools would often allow at least some 
correspondence courses, from regionally accredited colleges and universities, to count towards admission to their programs. For many 
years, when television got started, New York University offered a program called "Sunrise Semester", I think it was called, in which 
lectures were presented nationally on the CBS network at around 6 AM EST. You could sign up for credit via further correspondence 
course activity leading to college credit from NYU, in addition to watching the lectures informally without credit. I believe that 
they offered two courses per Fall and Spring Semester and one in the summer term. The credit could be applied towards a degree at 
NYU or transferred elsewhere. Nowadays, there are a number of regionally accredited public and private colleges and universities 
where one can earn either a bachelors or masters degree through online study. They don't seem to have a problem with it while some 
institutions like the University of Virginia do. I don't think that on campus classes for credit leading towards degrees will ever 
stop. Some people need and want those and some subjects - like medical courses - are best taught in person. On the other hand, some 
courses can be easily and effectively done online and some people prefer online study. The idea should be to make higher education 
more widely available and not just the privilege of the wealthy elite no matter how one studies.
2 people liked this.

cmwolff 4 days ago

Because everyone knows that whenever there is a crisis, it's always a good idea to have another baby.
7 people liked this.

alichtens 4 days ago

Having looked at Cousera, I think both its proselytizers (e.g., David Brooks) and detractors (myself included) are a bit hysterical. 
How different is this, really, from the "Great Lectures" you can pop into your car cd player? Yes, technologically more 
sophisticated, and able to create a "virtual classroom" for a 12-week stint. Yes, adding "assignments" and then issuing a "signed 
certificate" of completion. And then? Now the professor's course does come with the university's "brand"(what happens when the 
professor changes jobs, I wonder?), but this is just marketing. No university is going to give real credit for these classes, since 
that would water down its real brand. If anything, what this does is reveal the sad truth about too much university education: it is 
all about getting your ticket punched with the prestige of a degree, rather than learning.
19 people liked this.

jmb5b 4 days ago in reply to alichtens

I like the parallel that you draw between the MOOC and the "Great Lecture" series. However, I would that there is a little more than 
a branding issue -- it is also advertizing for the quality of the university, and perhaps a way for an astute student/family to try 
before they buy.

Back when I was an undergrad, we were sent off to college pretty much on faith that a student going to a well-known institution 
would get a good education. However, I'm sure that many of us can also remember that some of these instructors had serious issues -- 
some couldn't speak English clearly, or they threw objects at students who offended them. I would thus argue that the MOOC can help 
a person see what they may really get in the classroom.
1 person liked this.

alichtens 4 days ago in reply to jmb5b

I see what you are getting at, but I think these courses are really attached to particular professors, with the logo of the 
university as a branding mechanism. This tells potential students very little about what actually attending the university will be 
like, but legitimizes the course.

Too much discussion of Coursera operates as if these were for-credit on-line classes, rather than handing out meaningless 
"certificates.". As some folks have pointed out, the in-class analog is the auditor. Now you can just reach 40,000 auditors with one 
class. No harm in that; but no great benefit either, at least when it comes to revolutionizing higher ed.

The true consequences of this remain to be seen. What happens when this moves to a for-profit, fee-paying model? What happens when 
the inevitable tension between university brand and professors' claim to intellectual property rights collide? What happens when 
students around the world credentialize themselves..."I studied electrical engineering at Stanford.:--on the basis of auditing a few 
online courses? What happens when undergraduates at these institutions demand real credit for taking these courses, which after all 
are marketed as equivalent to a classroom course?

And the discussion continues with a lot of unanswered questions. These courses boast huge numbers--40,000 in Princeton's intro 
sociology class, for example. (OK, 40,001, since I just signed up, which takes about as much commitment as registering for a 
raffle). Who grades 40,000 students? How many people complete the course, which I suppose is measured by certificates distributed? 
What does this mean? How are these courses being constructed and vetted--that is, do they go through regular curricular channels? Is 
there a university committee, separate from normal curricular lines, that approves them? Is there a single model?

8 people liked this.

bjscares 4 days ago

So UVA is now in the online education business? Really, for free? How does this impact the bottom line? All these upper echelon 
institutions that are jumping on the online bandwagon and making courses available for free will soon find out they will be of no 
value to anyone, including the institution. But then maybe that's what they want to prove...in the meantime, those institutions that 
are providing, quality, accredited, online degrees to students who consistently state they have finally been able to accomplish 
their life long dream of a college education, will be leading the way toward the future of higher education....whatever that might 
look like 10, 15, 20 years from now...
6 people liked this.

Bert Walker 4 days ago

It's the Information Age, the schools and companies that make the best use of the technology and the resources it can connect people 
with, are the ones that will excel and prosper.
3 people liked this.

tgraham13 4 days ago

There is no doubt that significant disruption of higher ed by technology has begun. Millions of new students around the world now 
have access, for starters. The burning question is whether the overall revenue will drop precipitously as a result of MOOCs. We saw 
what happened to newspapers and the music business. Painful changes.

By the way, free is unsustainable. Coursera, Udacity, EdX etc. will have to charge somebody something eventually. Steve Jobs would 
sort it out pretty quickly.
6 people liked this.

fairday 4 days ago in reply to tgraham13

Free is indeed unsustainable. There has got to be a reason why these prestigious universities are signing up for Coursera, Udacity, 
EdX, etc beyond institutional branding. To me the equivalent is the early development of the internet which could not be monitized 
until businesses found the internet to be another medium for marketing and advertisements and for making money. Coursera was 
developed by a Silicon Valley upstart. They must have a business plan to make money down the road. I suspect that first, they will 
make the courses open and free, then align the courses to certificate, diploma, and degree programs, and then charge tuition and 
fees. The universities will then decide what the awarding of such certificate/diploma/degree programs mean for their prestige and 

We know that there is no free lunch. I hope that there are no plans to sell advertisements to captive students taking these online 
courses in order to pay for the courses. Think Google, Facebook, and other online corporations.
9 people liked this.

jwr12 4 days ago in reply to tgraham13

"Free is unsustainable"

To continue this thought, I would add that it has yet to be shown that just any financial model is reconcilable with the maintenance 
of academic fields: that is, the maintenance of certain kinds of knowledge and their expansion through new research. So, we have to 
consider not only, "Will there be money?" but "will the way money is made also support higher learning?"

It's not an accident that most cutting edge research (for example) is done either by nonprofits, or by public institutions.
7 people liked this.

vlwyss 4 days ago

I don't understand how the universities make money with this design....yet I know they would not do it if it were not a potential 
money-maker. Is this sort of a drug-sales approach? "the first one is free, but then you have to pay for the rest to get a degree?"

>> Stephen

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