Posts tagged ‘Georgia Institute of Technology’

July 24, 2012

Coursera expands with a dozen major research universities – credit for classes

by Grace

Coursera, an online learning company offering free massive open online courses ( MOOCs), is adding a dozen major reasearch universities to its existing group of Michigan, Princeton, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

Now, the partners will include the California Institute of Technology; Duke University; the Georgia Institute of Technology; Johns Hopkins University; Rice University; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the University of Washington; and the University of Virginia, where the debate over online education was cited in last’s month’s ousting — quickly overturned — of its president, Teresa A. Sullivan. Foreign partners include the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the University of Toronto and EPF Lausanne, a technical university in Switzerland.

And some of them will offer credit.

Schools feel pressured to participate.

“This is the tsunami,” said Richard A. DeMillo, the director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Tech. “It’s all so new that everyone’s feeling their way around, but the potential upside for this experiment is so big that it’s hard for me to imagine any large research university that wouldn’t want to be involved.”

It is still experimental and unproven.

But even Mr. Thrun, a master of MOOCs, cautioned that for all their promise, the courses are still experimental. “I think we are rushing this a little bit,” he said. “I haven’t seen a single study showing that online learning is as good as other learning.”

The University of Washington, ranked 42 on US News list of national universities, will offer credit.

So far, MOOCs have offered no credit, just a “statement of accomplishment” and a grade. But the University of Washington said it planned to offer credit for its Coursera offerings this fall, and other online ventures are also moving in that direction. David P. Szatmary, the university’s vice provost, said that to earn credit, students would probably have to pay a fee, do extra assignments and work with an instructor.

Most MOOC students are from overseas, but if more top universities began to offer course credits toward a degree more U.S. students may become interested.  Online cheating and grading are among the thorny issues.

An alternative to a traditional college degree for some?

“There’s talk about how online education’s going to wipe out universities, but a lot of what we do on campus is help people transition from 18 to 22, and that is a complicated thing,” said Mr. Page, the Michigan professor, adding that MOOCs would be most helpful to “people 22 to 102, international students and smart retired people.”

Eventually, Ms. Koller said, students may be able to enroll in a set of MOOCs and emerge with something that would serve almost the same function as a traditional diploma.

“We’re not planning to become a higher-education institution that offers degrees,” she said, “but we are interested in what can be done with these informal types of certification.

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December 20, 2011

M.I.T. adds credentialing to its online course program

by Grace

M.I.T. has enhanced its long-standing free online course program.

But the new “M.I.T.x” interactive online learning platform will go further, giving students access to online laboratories, self-assessments and student-to-student discussions.

CREDENTIAL for demonstrating mastery of the subjects taught!

While access to the software will be free, there will most likely be an “affordable” charge, not yet determined, for a credential.

“I think for someone to feel they’re earning something, they ought to pay something, but the point is to make it extremely affordable,” Mr. Reif said. “The most important thing is that it’ll be a certificate that will clearly state that a body sanctioned by M.I.T. says you have gained mastery.”

The certificate will not be a regular M.I.T. degree, but rather a credential bearing the name of a new not-for-profit body to be created within M.I.T; revenues from the credentialing, officials said, would go to support the M.I.T.x platform and to further M.I.T’s mission.

Will employers buy it?

“It seems like a very big deal because the traditional higher education reaction to online programs was, yeah, but it’s not a credential,” said Richard DeMillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “So I think M.I.T. offering a credential will make quite a splash. If I were still in industry and someone came in with an M.I.T.x credential, I’d take it.”

Related:  Is higher education on track to lose its credentialing monopoly?

November 9, 2011

Again, STEM college majors are too darn hard for kids these days

by Grace


Students are choosing the easy college majors.

… Although the number of college graduates increased about 29% between 2001 and 2009, the number graduating with engineering degrees only increased 19%, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Education. The number with computer and information-sciences degrees decreased 14%. Since students typically set their majors during their sophomore year, the first class that chose their major in the midst of the recession graduated this year.

This student switched majors when she found an engineering lab project too darn hard.

To avoid getting an “incomplete” for the course, Ms. Zhou withdrew before the lab ended. Since switching majors she has earned almost straight A’s instead of the B’s and C’s she took home in engineering.

The issues:

  • … introductory courses are often difficult and abstract…
  • … high schools didn’t prepare them for the level of rigor in the introductory courses…
  • … Science classes may also require more time … math and science—though not engineering—students study on average about three hours more per week than their non-science-major counterparts.

Overall, only 45% of 2011 U.S. high-school graduates who took the ACT test were prepared for college-level math and only 30% of ACT-tested high-school graduates were ready for college-level science, according to a 2011 report by ACT Inc.

One solution is to make STEM classes easier more accessible.

Educators have tried to tackle the attrition problem with new programs that they say make engineering more accessible. In 2003, Georgia Institute of Technology split its introductory computer-science class into three separate courses. One was geared toward computer science majors, another to engineering majors, and a third to liberal arts, architecture and management majors. The liberal arts course cut down on computer-science theory in favor of practical tasks like using programming to manipulate photographs, says computer science professor Mark Guzdial. Since the switch, about 85% of students pass, he says.

I don’t understand how this information supports the point that STEM-related jobs don’t pay enough:

That may partly be because the jobs don’t pay enough to attract or retain top graduates. Science, technology, engineering and math majors who stay in a related profession had average annual earnings of $78,550 in 2009, but those who decided to go into managerial and professional positions made more than $102,000, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

What is the difference between a science grad who works in a “related profession” vs. one who is in a “professional position”?  In almost any line of work, managers and professionals earn more than other workers.

Related:  College students find that STEM majors are too darn hard

August 5, 2011

Students who don’t submit SAT scores do worse in college

by Grace

Howard Wainer’s new book, Uneducated Guesses: Using Evidence to Uncover Misguided Education Policies, takes on the test optional movement.

Wainer is critical of the movement to make the SAT optional in college admissions, and argues that students who don’t submit SAT scores perform worse in college than do those who submit the scores.

Wainer looked at data from five colleges.

In the case of Bowdoin College, which does not require testing, but for which most applicants have taken the SAT, he compares the academic performance in college of those who did and did not submit scores. For four other colleges, he looks at the performance of the minority of students who submitted ACT scores instead of SAT scores.

As expected, Bowdoin students who submitted their SAT scores outperformed those who did not – 1323 vs. 12o1.

But then he tracked the academic performance of both groups of students in their first year (the first year being key, since the College Board says that the SAT predicts first-year academic success). He found that those who did not submit scores received grades in the first year that were 0.2 points lower than those of students who submitted scores. This suggests, he writes, that the SAT does predict academic performance in a meaningful way.

Then Wainer examined four colleges that let students submit SAT or ACT scores, and for which first-year grades were also available: Barnard and Colby Colleges, Carnegie Mellon University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. At all of these institutions, the students who submitted SAT scores had slightly better first-year grades than those who didn’t.

Wainer argues that these and other data suggest that colleges that seek to enroll those who will perform best in their first year are acting against the evidence when they make the SAT optional. “Making the SAT optional seems to guarantee that it will be the lower-scoring students who perform more poorly, on average, in their first-year college courses, even though the admissions office has found other evidence on which to offer them a spot,” he writes.

Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which has encouraged colleges to drop SAT requirements, said that these findings don’t challenge the reality that scores of colleges have done in-depth studies in recent years and found that dropping the test requirement has no impact on retention or graduation rates. He noted that Wainer’s career “has been spent inside the testing industry” and said that he “ignores evidence” from many other colleges.

While some studies have found that SAT scores do not predict college performance, other research that has taken selection bias into account or pulled out  SAT scores as an independent variable has concluded just the opposite.

‘Uneducated Guesses’ – Inside Higher Ed

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