Free online classes put colleges to a new test

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 9, 2012 - 3:10 PM

Proponents say Minnesota colleges can't ignore trend; critics say such classes are unproven.

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tharaldson74Dec. 9, 12 5:42 AM

Moots are books? Really professor, that is your best analogy? I would suggest that Moots retain every aspect of a large auditorium style lecture class which is quite common among major universities. They are far more than books. Second, why is a political appointee offering what appears to be empirical observations about moots...clearly he is not qualfied. As they are free classes, I would suggest that he take one. Minnesota is a leader in innovation...on the MOOT issue, we are looking pretty weak and uninformed (and why is cutting edged legislation seen as a success? shouldnt it be people learning?)...Wow.

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nonewtaxesDec. 9, 12 7:21 AM

Traditional colleges and universities have priced themselves out of the market for many people. This is an excellent example of the market responding to a need. Universities ignore these trends at their own peril.

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iggygophDec. 9, 12 7:35 AM

Most people in the business and educational world are familiar with the writings of Clayton Christensen on disruptive technologies (In fact, Coursera will soon be offering a course on disruptive technologies). His book entitled "The Innovaters Dilemma" has the subtitle "When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail". This is that game changing moment for post-secondary education and college presidents know it. This will stop the obscene history of tuition increases dead in its tracks. There is now real competition. For years, college professors and administrators have gorged themselves on the salary and benefits that have flowed from tuitions that have outstripped the rate of inflation. They then run off to Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Amazon et al and bypass the Main Street merchant and Joe Scmoe middle-men that have made their lives so comfortable. What goes around, comes around.

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luzhishenDec. 9, 12 8:51 AM

When the 1% demands MOOCs for their students, then you'll know that it's a proven method. When a MOOC is used to train hockey or football players, then you'll know it's the real deal. If you have ever done a Great Lectures course you know that the material can be engaging and entertaining; the hard part is measuring and encouraging student achievement. Students grading other students - and no way to know who is actually doing what - is a potential for disaster. But- hey, I'll let you be catheterized by the person who learned how to do it in a MOOC.

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elmore1Dec. 9, 1210:11 AM

This is an enabling technology that should be leveraged in University business models. Post secondary education needs a major transformation to address the crushing cost increases on students. Whining to the govt for more money is not the solution, making fundamental changes and embracing different ways to educate at a lower cost is what is needed.

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rickbmnDec. 9, 1210:35 AM

Ironic that this is an article about education, but the title itself is misleading. (Just like the education system.) Are the courses really free? Or is it just that someone else pays the cost? Of course, the time has long since passed where we expected the media to do any kind of analysis and provide honest reporting and article titles.

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mnmaggiemnDec. 9, 1211:14 AM

The cost of tuition is up, people are looking for something more cost effective. However, online courses with an instructor lack something the campuses do as far as learning and then in the mix having students grade students? If this ok, why not just have the state offer a testing for a small fee, you test out and if you get a certain score you can be a lawyer, accountant etc. Honestly is this like the GED for college now?

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inlandseaDec. 9, 1211:33 AM

Someday, someone will write a book about the scandal of online education. How many "college graduates" have enrolled in courses and then paid proxies to take the course for them? What other shortcuts are being employed that enable people to obtain a degree without having obtained or earned the education? If I was an employer, I wouldn't hire any current or future college graduate unless they could take a test (NOT online) that would demonstrate their educational competency in their field of study.

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jarlmnDec. 9, 12 2:04 PM

It is laughable that Professors working in bricks-and-mortar institutions deride this sort of education when their own bread-and-butter comes from auditoriums-full classes of faceless students. So much for vaunted "quality." Who do their think they are kidding? And yeah, emphasis here is upon actual education and not about the "school." I serious doubt that MOOCs will be funding "amateur" college sports teams that are nothing but glorified feeder-clubs for the pros. Meh, much about traditional bricks-and-mortar institutions is not about learning and academic accomplishment, anyway. It is about getting your ticket stamped by running through all their institutional tomfoolery.

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iggygophDec. 9, 12 3:49 PM

An excellent diary on Daily Kos today entitled "Student Loans: A Bubble Waiting to Burst". Not the left-leaning blather that you on the right might expect from dk. The comments section is worth reading. There has to be an answer for people to obtain a post-secondary education at an affordable cost. And please avoid taking the benefit of MOOCs to some sort of illogical conclusion that the health-care provider doing a catheterization learned it on-line. BTW, your orthopaedic surgeon probably learned the latest joint replacement procedure from a surgical company rep.

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