Monday, November 18, 2013

MOOCs as "Silicon Valley's Next Grand Challenge"

Professor Keith Devlin once again (this time in Huffington Post) with a thoughtful post on the future of MOOCs:

Wish I could just quote the whole thing, but I'll leave you with these bits:

"The fact is, Silicon Valley has yet to come to terms with education... A lot of what goes on in good (sic) education is almost certainly not scalable. That means the familiar hockeystick growth in users that can result in a hugely profitable IPO or buyout is not likely. On the other hand, as companies like Pearson and Apple know very well, the market for any particular educational product renews every twelve months as children and young adults move through the system."

"[MOOCs] are not 'regular university courses online' and they won't replace universities. They may well, however, reach a stage where they disrupt higher education, and if so, institutions that don't adapt to a changing landscape are indeed likely to go out of business."

"...there you have tomorrow's talent supply. Those huge [MOOC] dropout rates that were once regarded as a big problem turn out to have been our first glimpse of an amazing global filter for people with commitment, persistence and ability."

"MOOCs do not and, I believe, cannot replace a good university education. But they can, and in some cases already have, provide a pathway to such education for millions of people around the world who, for various reasons, do not at present have any access. Scale that across the entire world, and you have disruption."

...Meanwhile, for any interested, and who haven't already seen it, my overview of Noson Yanofsky's "The Outer Limits of Reason" (a fabulous volume I heartily recommend to all science-types) is now up at MathTango:


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