How do you determine whether prospective students are prepared for the best colleges?
Today grading standards vary among teachers and high schools. Personal essays could have been written by someone else or engineered because of the work of essay-writing coaches. SAT and ACT scores can be maximized through prep courses and different techniques that have little to do with achievement. Letters of recommendations and extracurricular activities are also imprecise measurement tools. Add to this the monetary contributions from wealthy families and Ivy League slots in high schools.
This imperfect information system is reflected by the fact that more than one in four students who start college drop out or transfer within three years.
MOOCs offered by dozens of elite colleges give high school students a chance to prove that they are ready for a university. In turn, the institution gets an accurate measure of whether a student is prepared for academics. edX and Coursera offer real courses –sometimes eves the same classes that are taught to freshmen– from the world’s greatest universities.
“MOOC success is much more likely to predict success in college classes than SAT scores, because MOOC success is, in fact, success in college classes”, explains Kevin Carey, director of policy program at New America.
“Online college courses also can be a better measure of student aptitude than Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes, which are considered in admissions by many colleges.”
“The availability of real, free college courses means universities won’t have to rely on such flawed proxies in the future. Instead they’ll be able to pick and choose from among students who have already demonstrated that they can excel at demanding college work.”
Colleges are now figuring out how to incorporate MOOCs into admissions and make them recruiting tools. On the other side, students are listing MOOCs among extracurricular activities.
“It will become much harder for privileged parents to help their less-talented children game the system. Unless, of course, elite schools really wanted the children of the rich and powerful all along.”
“edX will become the world leader in website accessibility for learners with disabilities”, said Tena Herlihy, edX General Counsel, after the educational portal voluntarily entered into an agreement with the US Department of Justice.
After this agreement, edX will conform its website, platform and mobile applications, to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.00 AA), published by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
“Our vision—quality education for everyone, everywhere—can only be achieved when our site is accessible to all users, including people with disabilities”.
The edX and Open edX platform already incorporates synchronized transcripts, video replay at different speeds, keyboard-accessible controls, support for screen reader users and tools to enable the creation of accessible content. Shortly, edX will release Student Notes, the first accessible text annotation tool.
HarvardX and MITx have released a paper that explores how audiences used MOOCs from the fall of 2012 to the summer of 2014. In that period, the growth of MOOC participants was linear –but not exponential, at a rate of about 1,300 per day.
The report concludes that the future of MOOCs is yet to be written.
McKinsey Academy has decided to offer a course in Business Strategy to qualified participants at a fee of $2,500. The McKinsey Academy team will review applications, select the most suitable participants and then decide whether the course, scheduled in June, is viable.
McKinsey Academy considers this initiative as a special edX offer.
“We named Lagunita after the lake near our headquarters on the Stanford University grounds. It’s a peaceful place to walk, ruminate, and spot Northern California wildlife in the midst of a vibrant campus,” explains Stanford’s team.
This Open edX instance, launched in April 2013, is part of the Stanford Online initiative.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a 14-year-old global organization that sets standards for the Web (HTML5’s among others), will soon launch its first course on edX, HTML5 Part 1.
This 6-weeks-long course, scheduled in June, is led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Dr. Jeff Jaffe, and includes experts who helped create HTML5. It is oriented to students interested in learning HTML5 and core Web technologies as well as creating rich websites and applications.
HTML5 is now supported on mobile phones, connected objects, game consoles, and automobile dashboards. It provides native support for video and audio without plug-ins as well as offline applications. “HTML5 represents the set of features that entrepreneurs and organizations will rely on for years to come,” say the course creators.
University of Texas says their cost is $100k to $300k per course.
Teachers College at Columbia University estimates them to range from $39k to $204k each.
Harvard’s costs range from $75k to $150k.
Cornell says that the cost of supporting a MOOC instructor, materials, and teaching assistant is about $50k.
Udacity reports costs of $200k to produce a course, plus $50K to run it subsequently. And costs are only expected to rise, they say.
edX gives grants of $50k for creating a course within its “High School Program”.
The two main cost components are course creation (faculty, admins, instructional designers, technical support) and the type of delivery. It is generally estimated that the cost of a high quality video production is approximately $4,300 per hour of finished video.
On average, $70k is the cost to produce a course; the delivery costs range from $10-20 per learner to access the course on Amazon or internal servers.
The new digital credentials, or badges, can solve this problem. Badges indicate specific skills and knowledge, backed by links to electronic evidence of how and why the credentials were earned. In addition, badges are not limited to what people learned in college, but everywhere else. In the meantime, traditional college degrees are inadequate tools for communicating information and presenting that data to employers.