Archived entries for higher Ed

The old new ideas

Addendum, 3.8.14:  Just so you know I’m not the only one disappointed by SXSWedu, check out the edu firebrand Audrey Watters’ thoughts on the matter.


So everyone is frolicking at SXSWedu and I’m snowbound here in the Northeast, keeping tabs on the action via twitter and Facebook.  The information that I’m seeing coming off the wires (or intertubez), however, is making me glad I didn’t have to put up with an airline security check en route to Austin.  OK, some of this may be sour, frozen grapes.  But I’m wondering if SXSWEdu has jumped the shark in terms of disseminating cutting-edge education ideas.

Grumpy Cat is not feeling SXSWEdu, either

Flipped classrooms. Games as learning tools. Adaptive learning. Big data. BYOD. Gamification. Students presenting on panels. Moving beyond the four walls of the classroom.  Engagement. Interactivity. And so on.

Mostly good ideas.  Most unproven on a large scale.  Most ignoring the elephant in the room of inequity, a broken global economy, a disappearing middle class, the unspoken agreement that arts and humanities are a waste of time. Is it education’s responsibility to address these?  Not per se.  But without rigorous educational opportunities for everyone, they cannot and will not go addressed.  And as corporations focused on profits and startups (gold) rushing to capitalize on the promise of digital education, a concerned educator (me) can’t help but feel that we are just monetizing ways to preserve the status quo.

Big change over time is possible.  One word, people: The Renaissance. (OK, that’s two). But not when companies meekly nibble on what they imagine is the safest idea in the marketplace that promises quick returns. I don’t mind the small bytes approach to education, it’s just that too often the big picture gets lost in the shuffle.

There was one tweet I particularly liked from SXSWedu: this existential gem that takes YOLO as a rallying theme.

@dperkinsmsu: #LAUNCHedu Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask what they want to do…and now! Move from content to skills #SXSWedu

Is this a move in the right direction, or a cry for help? You be the judge.

The State of San Joe State

So the big news on campus these days is that students enrolled in San Jose State’s online MOOC, provided by Udacity, on college entry-level math, didn’t fare so well:

Preliminary findings from the spring semester suggest students in the online Udacity courses, which were developed jointly with San Jose State faculty, do not fare as well as students who attended normal classes — though Junn cautioned against reading too much into the comparison, given the significant differences in the student populations.

Ha, ha, you big MOOCs!  Here’s undisputed proof that students fare worse in online courses than in the classroom.

But wait — what’s that about “differences in student populations”?

This spring, Udacity and San Jose State offered three online for-credit math courses for $150 to 100 students per course. Of those students, half were San Jose State students and the other half were un-enrolled students who might have come from high schools or the military.

Um. Comparing apples to military and high school oranges here?  There’s a learning curve here, people, both for the students and, apparently, for the content providers:

Junn said students who are enrolled in Udacity courses this summer appear to be faring better than students from the spring semester. That is, in part, because of lessons learned this spring, Junn said. Some spring semester students, for instance, were enrolled in the online courses even though they did not have reliable access to computers.

They didn’t have reliable access to computers.  Yow.

I’m not even sure where to start critiquing this.  How about 1). how much of MOOC failures are structural and not content related? 2). would it kill you, Udacity/SJS, to put in safeguards against students without the proper equipment signing up for a course? 3). I think that they are using the students as a living test bed for their platform and content, which is frankly the way a lot of folks are going.  How many students need to flunk so future students might flourish?


Copyright © 2004–2014. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a fabulous theme by Rodrigo Galindez.