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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Revolution in Higher Education

Good summary article in The New York Times today, about Coursera's expansion.  Free online courses from some of the best minds at our elite universities, open to anyone.

Joining the initial group (Michigan, Princeton, Stanford, and UPenn), are  California Institute of Technology, Duke University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, University of California San Francisco, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Washington, University of Virginia, University of Edinburgh in Scotland, University of Toronto and EPF Lausanne.  Some are even starting to offer credits for completion.

Really exciting stuff, even though there's lots to figure out before this goes mainstream and success can be declared for this new model of higher education:

-- Who is going to pay for professor's time, building and maintaining of the technology... overall, what's the business model that will generate sufficient revenues (or any revenues right now) to pay for the costs of these courses.

-- If credits are going to be offered, how to prevent cheating on exams, papers.

-- What needs to be improved in the student and instructor online experiences.

-- How to get the completion rate for students to a decent level.  Will students need more support, like peer to peer study groups and tutoring?

-- What effect this will have on our great research universities, including established systems like tenure.

At Tutor.com, we're thinking hard about how our software platform and know-how in providing academic support and coaching can contribute to these efforts.  On a personal level, I'm looking forward to starting and completing the Introduction to Genome Science course offered on Coursera by University of Pennsylvania faculty.  No doubt I'll be learning a great deal,

George Cigale

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