February 25, 2017

Roundup of news on online developments in US higher education

Having been on the road for the last two weeks, I’ve accumulated a backlog of material for the blog. Here I’m providing a very brief roundup of news on some interesting (and sometimes scary) developments from the USA.

Haurwitz, R. (2012) Texas branch of Western Governors University making mark in cyberspace Statesman.com, April 22: This provides an interesting update on the WGU, which is clearly still going strong.

BW (2012) 120,000 enroll in MITx online Circuits and Electronics course, NextBigFuture, April 21. This provides a brief update on MIT’s Open Learning Enterprise and a video interview with Professor Anant Agarwal, its director and a main instructor on MITx 6002.x course. It is clear that the aim at MITx is to automate online teaching as much as possible. It could result in some interesting online lab designs and automated assessments. See also: MIT to develop new Open Learning Enterprise unit for online learning 

Des Garennes, C. (2012) Lessons from $18 million Global Campus failure The News-Gazette, April 22. This is an up-dated post-mortem on the prestigious University of Illinois’ attempt to create a for-profit online virtual campus that ended in financial disaster. Some good lessons there – but I covered the reasons for such failures in my 2005 book Technology, e-Learning and Distance Education. Pity they didn’t read it: but does ANYONE in the USA do their homework on what is already known about online learning before launching the next best thing since sliced bread? Which is a nice segue into the next article.

Guttenplan, D. (2012) Building schools out of clicks, not bricks New York Times, April 22. Although it is not immediately apparent, this is a report of the OCW Consortium’s conference on open educational resources in Cambridge, England. The whole article reads as if the USA invented both online learning (“A decade ago there were only a handful of courses available online — all of them from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology“) and open learning. Actually, if you can get through the American hubris, it looks as if it was an interesting conference. But shame on the New York Times for such awful journalism. Aren’t journalists supposed to check their facts any more? I do worry that with such friends as this, online learning is in big trouble. Such coverage does a disservice to the many sound and innovative programs in the USA – and elsewhere.



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