Perhaps you have heard of the latest trend in education, wherein a professor at Stanford or whatever makes a bunch of Youtube videos, puts together some handouts, and puts it all on the web at a site called Coursera, which has dozens of “free” online classes offered by professors from Harvard, MIT, Princeton, UCLA, and other fancy places like that.
We have put “free” in sarcasm-quotes because the instructor is not getting paid any money to make these videos and we’re not sure who owns the content once it is posted online. We suspect it is therefore only “free” because instructors are being pressured into working for free, which concerns us.
Anyway, this is the latest trend in education: putting a bunch of videos on the web and calling it a “class” from which tens of thousands of students can earn a “certificate” or even “credit.” Would it shock you to learn that such an experience doesn’t result in the same outcome as, say, attending an actual class?
Stanford University ratcheted up interest in online education when a pair of celebrity professors attracted more than 150,000 students from around the world to a noncredit, open enrollment course on artificial intelligence… College administrators who dream of emulating this strategy for classes like freshman English would be irresponsible not to consider two serious issues.
First, student attrition rates — around 90 percent for some huge online courses — appear to be a problem even in small-scale online courses when compared with traditional face-to-face classes. Second, courses delivered solely online may be fine for highly skilled, highly motivated people, but they are inappropriate for struggling students who make up a significant portion of college enrollment and who need close contact with instructors to succeed.
How surprising! A correspondence course has high attrition rates, even when it is online and offered by a famous professor? We never could have seen that coming. Also too the fact that most students will not learn much about writing or critical thinking in this kind of setting, this as well is totally unexpected.
Ha! Ha! Ha! Of course it is not unexpected, unless of course you are one of those people who thinks that teachers and college instructors don’t actually DO anything, and therefore can be replaced by a video of themselves, a couple of handouts, and a multiple choice test here and there.
A five-year study, issued in 2011, tracked 51,000 students enrolled in Washington State community and technical colleges. It found that those who took higher proportions of online courses were less likely to earn degrees or transfer to four-year colleges. The reasons for such failures are well known. Many students, for example, show up at college (or junior college) unprepared to learn, unable to manage time and having failed to master basics like math and English.
Whatever, what a bunch of LOSERS, they should have learned through bootstrapping or something. Anyway, this is the future, might as well roll out the welcome mat! “Normal” things will become crappy, and we will have to pay extra to get the quality previously associated with “normal.” Ergo, “normal” college will consist of Youtube videos, and a fancy college like Harvard or something will charge $100,000 per year for ACTUAL CONTACT WITH HUMAN BEINGS, which used to be the norm.
. We are currently “taking a course”