23 août 2012

The MOOC-Led Meritocracy

http://chronicle.com/img/photos/biz/icons/the-conversation-newheader.pngBy Kevin Carey. This week Udacity announced that had cancelled a scheduled math class over concerns about quality. In doing so, it added another item to the growing list of marked contrasts between MOOC’s and traditional universities. Does this kind of thing ever happen at “regular” colleges? Could it? At minimum, such an event would seem to require (a) defined standards of quality, and (b) some process whereby courses are systematically evaluated against those standards before the beginning of class.
My understanding is that the traditional process consists of posing questions such as “Are we an accredited college?” and “Are enough students enrolled to break even?,” and that’s pretty much that. Perhaps the syllabus is reviewed (although not in my experience), but otherwise it’s a matter of trusting the faculty in question. Which works, sometimes, but often doesn’t. It’s hard to tell because, see again, lack of standards.
This is what happens when new organizations proceed afresh from the logic of their creation, rather than decades or centuries of accumulated regulation, public subsidy, and organizational culture.
The way MOOC’s—massive open online courses—handle student attrition is also instructive. A lot of students drop out of traditional colleges, particularly at less selective institutions, and this is rightly seen as a major public-policy problem. In response colleges have hired retention specialists, legislators have proposed tying funds to completion, and hectoring think-tank analysts have published white papers criticizing colleges with low graduation rates. Meanwhile the vast majority of people who sign up for MOOC’s don’t complete their courses, yet MOOC creators are hailed as visionaries rather than being denounced for their 10-percent completion rates. What gives?
The difference comes down to risk and money. Society invests a lot of money in traditional institutions, and going to college is a high-stakes affair. Students who graduate enter a far more hospitable job market, while dropouts represent large amounts of wasted resources, public and private, along with, increasingly, unmanageable debt. MOOC’s, by contrast, aren’t publicly supported and risk nothing but their students’ time. A free, low-stakes, open-access system has far more license to operate as a pure meritocracy.
That meritocracy will serve as a powerful mechanism for signaling quality to an uncertain labor market. Traditional colleges rely mostly on generalized institutional reputations and, in a minority of cases, admissions selectivity to demonstrate what graduates know and can do. The opacity of most collegiate learning processes (see again, lack of standards) and the eroding force of grade inflation have left little other useful information.
MOOC credentials, by contrast, will signal achievement selectivity. Instead of running a tournament to decide who gets to take the class and very likely get an A-minus or A, they’re running tournaments to decide who did best in the class. That’s why people are already resorting to plagiarism in MOOC courses. That’s troublesome, although perhaps not distinctly so, given that the antiplagiarism software that will presumably be deployed in defense was developed in response to widespread cheating in traditional higher ed.
Kevin Carey is director of the education-policy program at the New America Foundation.

Posté par pcassuto à 23:47 - - Permalien [#]

Nur noch vier deutsche Unis unter Welt-Top-100

http://www.epapercatalog.com/images/zeit-online-epaper.jpgIm weltweiten Shanghai-Ranking schneiden die deutschen Hochschulen schlechter ab als im Vorjahr. Kritiker bemängeln eine Verzerrung der Ergebnisse.
Vier deutsche Universitäten haben es in diesem Jahr im Shanghai-Ranking unter die besten hundert Hochschulen weltweit geschafft. Wie im Vorjahr ist die TU München die beste deutsche Uni. Mit Rang 53 ist sie allerdings sechs Plätze niedriger platziert. Es folgt die LMU München (Platz 60, minus sechs). Heidelberg bleibt auf Rang 62, neu unter den Top hundert ist die Universität Freiburg auf Platz 99. Aus den ersten hundert fallen dagegen Bonn, Göttingen und Frankfurt, sie sind nun in dem Bereich zwischen den Plätzen 101 und 150 platziert. Ab Platz hundert weist das Ranking keine Einzelplatzierungen, sondern nur noch Ranggruppen aus.
Die Spitze bleibt unverändert: Die Universität Harvard führt vor Stanford, dem MIT, Berkeley und Cambridge als bester europäischer Uni. Beste Hochschule Asiens ist die Universität Tokio auf Platz 20, beste kontinentaleuropäische Uni die ETH Zürich auf Rang 23. Die höchstbewertete afrikanische Hochschule ist die Uni Kapstadt im Bereich zwischen den Plätzen 201 und 300.
Das Ranking, das die Jiao-Tong-Universität in Shanghai jährlich aufstellt, vergleicht Hochschulen weltweit. Gewertet werden unter anderem alte und aktuelle Nobelpreisträger einer Uni, anderer Wissenschaftspreise sowie Veröffentlichungen in den englischsprachigen Fachmagazinen Science und Nature.
Kritiker, wie etwa das Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung (CHE), sehen durch das hohe Gewicht von Zeitschriftenaufsätzen eine Verzerrung zugunsten von Universitäten mit naturwissenschaftlicher Ausrichtung in englischsprachigen Ländern. In einer Stellungnahme bemängelt das CHE außerdem, dass die Forschungsleistung der außeruniversitären Forschung – und damit ein erheblicher Teil der Forschungsleistung deutscher Wissenschaftsstandorte – im Shanghai-Ranking nicht berücksichtigt werde.

Posté par pcassuto à 21:57 - - Permalien [#]

ACT Report Shows 2/3 of US Students Aren’t College-Ready

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/ca/ACT_logo.pngBy Julia Lawrence. Based on data collected from the ACT college and career readiness exam, only a quarter of exam-takers are considered fully prepared for college-level work.
ACT has released the this year’s edition of its The Condition of College & Career Readiness report based on information collected from high school graduates taking the ACT college and career readiness exam. For the first time this year, more than half of the U.S. graduating class took the ACT exam — and data shows that more than a quarter didn’t meet even a single one of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in English, mathematics, reading and science. This strongly indicates that a large proportion of students enrolling as college freshmen this fall haven’t been adequately prepared by their high schools to tackle college-level work.
The report contains additional bad news. A further 15% of test-takers met only one out of the four ACT benchmarks, and 17% met only two. That means that nearly 2/3r of students who took the exam during the 2012 academic year don’t have the necessary skills to successfully tackle their first-year college courses. In all, only one-fourth of the students showed the needed proficiency in all four subject areas. The percentage was unchanged from the year before.
Commenting on the report findings, ACT Chief Executive Officer Jon Whitmore said that it is clear that a large proportion of high school graduates continue to fall well short of college readiness. This is particularly unsettling in light of the fact that as the American economy continues to become increasingly global, in the near future U.S. students will be competing on the job market against their better-prepared international peers.
ACT’s empirically derived College Readiness Benchmarks are based on actual grades earned in college by ACT-tested students. They specify the minimum score needed on each of the four ACT subject tests to indicate that a student has a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher or a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher in a typical credit-bearing first-year college course in that subject area. ACT continually updates its research to ensure that the benchmarks are reflective of college success.
Although generally alarming, the levels of college readiness among African-American and Hispanic students were particularly low. While the majority of white and Asian-American students either met or exceeded each of the college-readiness benchmarks, except for science, the passage rate for African-American and Hispanic test-takers was no better than 50% on any single measure.
“Our research supports what many educators and parents have long suspected—that the best way to help our students prepare for successful futures is by monitoring their achievement, academic behaviors and goals starting early in their academic careers and providing appropriate help whenever we find they are not on track for success,” said Whitmore.

Posté par pcassuto à 21:47 - - Permalien [#]

Record EU students to get 'free' Scottish degree

http://bathknightblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/telegraph-logo.jpgBy Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor. The number of university places available for Scottish students is being squeezed by record levels of youngsters from other EU countries taking advantage of the SNP’s offer of a taxpayer-funded degree, it has emerged.
 Successful applications by youngsters from the Continent are up 3.6 per cent on the same time last year when the previous record was set. The annual £75 million cost of providing them with ‘free’ degrees appears certain to increase further.
Although SNP ministers have boasted of allocating a set number of “protected places” for Scottish applicants, this quota also includes places given to EU students.

Posté par pcassuto à 21:22 - - Permalien [#]

Graduate jobs: Best languages to study

http://bathknightblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/telegraph-logo.jpgThese rankings are based on a survey carried out for the CBI Education & skills survey 2012, in which 542 UK firm managers were asked which languages are useful to their business. A-level results 2012: foreign languages 'need eurozone-style bail-out'.
1. German

Germany remains the largest single export market for British goods outside of the USA, and Europe's largest economy – with a GDP of more than €2.4 trillion – continues to defy the eurozone downturn. So it's no surprise that UK companies want to hire employees who know their umlauts from their eszetts.
2. French

It may be in seemingly terminal decline as a subject of study in our secondary education system, but proficiency in French remains a highly sought-after skill among UK employers, with 49 per cent rating it as useful for their organisations.
3. Spanish

Valued as a major European language but also as the leading language of fast-growing Latin American economies – as well as its continued rise to prominence in the United States – Spanish is rated as useful by 37 per cent of the employers surveyed.
4. Mandarin

The official language of China – the world's most populous and economically dynamic nation – features highly in managers' preferences. In 2006 Brighton College became the first school in the United Kingdom to made studying Mandarin compulsory for all 13 year-olds.
5. Polish

Polish makes the top five, with 19 per cent of UK managers rating it as useful for their organisations. Large-scale Polish migration to the UK after the country's admission to the European Union made the headlines, but as the largest consumer market of the new EU member states and the only EU country to avoid recession since the downturn began, business ties with Poland extend considerably further.
6. Arabic

Any who doubts the importance of Arabic-speaking business to the United Kingdom's economy should take a look at The Shard – the tallest building in Western Europe was largely made possible by Qatari investment. Or they could just ask a Manchester City fan.
7. Cantonese

The majority of the UK's Cantonese speakers have ties to Hong Kong, where it is the official language. But Cantonese is spoken much more widely around the world, with nearly 70 million native speakers.
8. Russian

Relations with Russia haven't exactly been warm since the end of the Cold War – from the Litvinenko poisoning to the infamous Moscow "spy rock" – but according to the Government's Trade & Investment website, Russia is the UK's fastest-growing major export market.
9. Japanese

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's love of the lambada may have earned him more ridicule than respect, but his proficiency in Japanese – he spent two years teaching English in Japan – is held in high esteem among his parliamentary colleagues, and came in useful on a recent trade mission to Japan.
10. Portuguese

Brazil recently overtook the United Kingdom as the world's sixth-largest economy, and with the football World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics just around the corner, all eyes will be on this Portuguese-speaking "Bric" nation.

Posté par pcassuto à 21:10 - - Permalien [#]

THE World University Rankings 2012-13 publication date revealed

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/Pictures/web/r/i/a/RANKINGS_TABLE_2012.jpgThe Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-13 will be published on Wednesday 3 October, it was confirmed this week.
The annual THE rankings, which UK universities and science minister David Willetts said are "fast becoming something of a fixture in the academic calendar", will be published live online at 21.00 BST on 3 October.
A special rankings print supplement will also be published with the 4 October edition of THE, and the results will be available on a free interactive iPhone application.
This year is the ninth year that THE has published a global university ranking, but the third year of a new more comprehensive ranking system developed in partnership with Thomson Reuters.
After dramatic methodological improvement in 2010, and further refinement in 2011, the 2012-13 World University Rankings will employ exactly the same methodology as the 2011-12 rankings, allowing for stable year-on-year comparisons.
The THE rankings employ 13 separate performance indicators, making them the only global university rankings to examine all the core missions of the modern global university - research, teaching, knowledge transfer and international activity.
The 13 indicators are grouped into five broad headings:
• Teaching - the learning environment (worth 30 per cent of the overall ranking score)
• Research - volume, income and reputation (30 per cent)
• Citations - research influence (30 per cent)
• International outlook - staff, students and research (7.5 per cent)
• Industry income - innovation (2.5 per cent)
The rankings data is normalised to ensure that arts, humanities and social sciences are placed on an equal footing with science. To measure research influence, our data providers Thomson Reuters examine 50 million research citations from 6 million journal articles.
The 2012-13 World University Rankings will also use the results of the annual invitation-only Academic Reputation Survey, carried out by Thomson Reuters and Ipsos in Spring 2012. The survey attracted more than 16,500 responses from experienced senior academics all over the world, making it the largest exercise of its kind in the world.
The 3 October release will include the official world top 200, a "best of the rest" list of the 200 institutions immediately outside the top 200, ranked in bands, and six top 50 subject tables: engineering and technology; social sciences; physical sciences; life sciences; arts and humanities; and clinical, preclinical and health subjects.
The World University Rankings are the main release of a portfolio of THE university rankings, which include the March World Reputation Rankings and the May THE 100 Under 50, a list of the top universities under 50 years old.

Posté par pcassuto à 21:03 - - Permalien [#]

English standards being set below recommended levels

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/magazine/graphics/mastheads/mast_blank.gifBy David Matthews. Nearly two in three UK universities are setting English language requirements below the recommended level for undergraduate students from outside the European Union, according to a Times Higher Education survey.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is one of the most commonly used tests and is partly owned by the British Council, recommends that a score of at least 6.5 is needed for any degree course.

Posté par pcassuto à 20:59 - - Permalien [#]

Social enterprise should be made central to higher education strategy

http://static.guim.co.uk/static/e8d93c368dabda4f6e17c60ed6ac05ed679ef444/common/images/logos/the-guardian/professional.gifThere is no point in developing student social entrepreneurs if we don't also develop a thriving social enterprise sector for them to work in, says Simon Denny. When I went to university in the late 1970s, fewer than 20% of school leavers when on to higher education. Some degrees were clearly vocational (medicine perhaps the most obvious example), but most were not. My module on the Comparative Government of Indonesia and Nigeria has not, I'm afraid to say, been of direct relevance to me in the world of work.

Posté par pcassuto à 20:52 - - Permalien [#]

The Myth of Ivy Advantage

http://www.insidehighered.com/sites/all/themes/ihecustom/logo.jpgBy Karen Kelsky. Some months back I wrote a column in The Chronicle of Higher Education called "Graduate School is a Means to a Job." The column began with issues a prospective graduate student should consider before entering graduate school at all. I wrote:
"Go to the highest-ranked graduate department you can get into — so long as it funds you fully….. [But] never assume that the elite, Ivy League departments are the highest-ranked or have the best placement rates. Some of the worst-prepared job candidates with whom I've worked have been from humanities departments at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. Do not be dazzled by abstract institutional reputations. Ask steely-eyed questions about individual advisers and their actual (not illusory) placement rates in recent years."
The column received a lot of generally positive commentary.

Posté par pcassuto à 20:30 - - Permalien [#]

The Mechanical MOOC

http://www.insidehighered.com/sites/all/themes/ihecustom/logo.jpgBy Audrey Watters. MIT OpenCourseware, OpenStudy, Peer to Peer University, and Codecademy are teaming up to launch a “Mechanical MOOC” today – a free and open introductory course in the programming language Python that weaves together existing resources (content, Web-based study groups, quizzes and so on).
Unlike some of the other MOOCs that have launched in recent months – particularly those headline-grabbing efforts from Stanford (and Coursera and Udacity) – this “Mechanical MOOC” will not force learners into a centralized website that recreates the LMS, where all the official lessons, lectures, discussions and assignments take place. Instead, the content is linked and distributed via an email list managed by P2PU.
As P2PU co-founder Philipp Schmidt tells The New York Times, “The mechanical MOOC is an attempt to leverage the power of the open web–by loosely joining together a set of independent building blocks.” That is, MIT OCW will provide the content (from its 6.189 A Gentle Introduction to Python course); OpenStudy will handle the study groups; Codecademy will offer its Web-based, interactive tools for coding practice.
The class officially starts in mid-October with weekly lessons sent via email. But in a twist that might be a boon to those of us who consistenly drop out or drift away from these open enrollment courses, the weekly lesson emails can be paused or staggered so that you can still move through the content with a cohort of learners, even if you fall behind or have to restart the course. “We want to do more than sign-up tens of thousands of students and have only a fraction succeed,“ said OpenStudy co-founder Preetha Ram in the news release. “Our goal is to have everyone who participates succeed. We want to help learners remain engaged throughout the course and be supported by a community.”
The email scheduler tool will be made available to other open content sites too so that they can build this sort of “mechanical MOOC.” But the goal here is really to empower learners to pull together what they need: the resources and the peer support.
There’s no official instructor involvement here. No institution (and none of the participating organizations here) is in charge. No degrees or credits or certificates or letters of achievement will be awarded (you can, of course, get badges for your Codecademy achievements and for your peer support on OpenStudy).
Lisa Lane recently argued that there are 3 types of MOOCs: network-based (e.g. the connectivist MOOCs), task-based (e.g. DS106) , and content-based (edX, Coursera, Udacity). By creating an open source tool for this “mechanical MOOC,” hopefuly this effort will help others take the best of all of those models, create their own open online courses (massive or not), and optimize for learning and community (and not just investors or institutions).

Posté par pcassuto à 20:26 - - Permalien [#]