Sonic Foundry sponsored Inside Higher Education and Babson Survey Research Group to conduct online learning surveys of faculty and academic technology administrators. The surveys garnered responses from representative samples of 4,564 faculty members and 591 administrators, from all types of institutions. For an in-depth view of what’s on the minds of these instructors and administrators regarding online education, download your copy of the study report today.
In a recent episode of All Things Considered, NPR highlighted the University of the People, an online institution that claims to be “the world’s first, tuition-free, non-profit, online academic institution.” It helps individuals like Naylea Omayra Villanueva Sanchez who, due to a motorcycle accident, can neither physically attend nor financially afford a university education.
Sounds dreamy, yes? In the words of one commenter, “the concept tickles peoples (sic) utopian fantasies.” This is perhaps why it didn’t take long for the generally unruffled comment thread generated by NPR faithfuls to get a little derisive—even rightfully so.
Surviving without profit
UoP isn’t actually the first non-profit online institute—Khan Academy beat them by three years in 2006. Since Khan and UoP, numerous institutions have sprung up, including for-profit Udacity and Coursera and non-profit edX, a venture by MIT, Harvard, and other leading universities.
It seems, however, that this pie in the sky is having trouble manifesting. Despite partnering with Hewlett Packard and Yale, UoP is catching heat for going back on its promise for a free education. Starting in September, new students of UoP will pay $100 for every final exam. Even its supporters are concerned.
“How are we going to make this work, while keeping it tuition-free and not having any onerous fees that would at all restrict access to the world’s poorest of the poor, yet at the same time keep the organization growing?” asks Dalton Conley, New York University’s former dean of social sciences. Conley goes on to quote Shai Reshef, the founder of UoP, “We’re not the future of higher education, we’re the last resort.”
Philip Altbach, head of the Center of International Higher Education at Boston College, says, “[It’s] a nice idea,” but adds a caveat, “I think it’s a bit half-baked at this point.”
Plagiarism in the online eLearning community
Altbach cites another difficulty with massive online learning: plagiarism. “How, for example, will you figure out that the admirable woman in Peru is taking the tests herself?” (Note: one commenter proposed biometrics.)
Coursera has recently come under fire—by its own students, no less—for such cases of plagiarism found in peer-graded essays. Laura K. Gibbs, a lecturer teaching online courses at the University of Oklahoma and a student of Coursera’s fantasy and science fiction class, lamented the incidents on her blog.
(In case you’ve forgotten, here’s TeLS’s previous infographic and article on 10 types of plagiarism.)
eLearning has a disadvantage in that instructors don’t always look at students’ work, but their students also hail from across the globe. Many universities boast eclectic student backgrounds, but not all institutions remember that some students plagiarize because they don’t know it’s culturally unacceptable.
“If we really are trying to teach the world, including people from other cultures,” says Coursera professor Charles Severance, “we have to take a responsibility to educate people about plagiarism, not just vaporize people for it.”
A ghost-writer comes clean
If Daphne Koller’s sense that plagiarism doesn’t happen more frequently than in regular classroom environments isn’t enough for some skeptics, they might consider picking up a copy of The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat by ghostwriter-come-clean Dave Tomar. After feeling alienated and cheated out of a quality education at Rutgers, Tomar wrote papers for cash at bachelor’s through doctoral levels. What’s more, he sees himself for what he is—“Even if I can rationalize what I’m doing, I can’t take any pride in it…I’m trash”—but also sees everyone in the college institution as a “co-conspirator.”
Tomar goes on, “When I started doing this job, I was so angry over my university experiences and just over the direction of our culture in general…. We are so deeply entrenched for a lot of economic reasons in this cost structure where colleges have inflated their costs so dramatically, but the return on it is completely static.”
Perhaps University of Michigan and Coursera professor Eric S. Rabkin feels a similar cynicism after years of deep entrenchment in this kind of dollar-signs culture. “I’m not interested in proving this could substitute for the University of Michigan,” he says. “What I’m after is seeing if we have a way of capitalizing on a large group of people with smart software and a clever system that can make a community that has guidance and can teach itself.”
Kay Winders is presently the resident writer for www.badcreditloans.org, where she researches the best way for people to pay off their debts without damaging their credit. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing, the beach and gardening.
One of the most prevalent trends in higher education today is the increasing popularity of online classes. Today, about 30% of all higher education students take at least one class online, and demand for online courses exceeds demand for traditional courses across all institution types.
But online learning isn’t something to be taken for granted. When moving their classes online, instructors need to account for the absence of face-to-face interactions while integrating tools from an array of digital learning technologies. This presents a unique set of challenges, especially for classes that require a high level of interaction with the professor or those that are asynchronous in the online environment.
At this year’s Professional Colleges and Universities Summit, Steven Birmingham (IT Director at Central Penn College) discussed his experiences with transforming brick-and-mortar classes to online learning. Here are some of my favorite takeaways from Birmingham’s presentation:
[also worth watching Birmingham’s take in his video below]
Online education is quickly becoming a major phenomenon around the world. The ease and convenience it offers learners appeal to people just about everywhere, especially those who are trying to balance work, family, and other obligations with completing a degree or certification program. Yet certain nations have embraced online education more than others, leading the way both in terms of the number and variety of programs and new innovations to online learning itself. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the nations that are really stepping up the game when it comes to online education, though with the proliferation of high-speed nternet connections and a growing need for highly educated candidates in technical positions around the world, other nations likely aren’t far behind.
Are online courses equal in value to traditional face-to-face courses? What about degrees earned virtually vs. those earned at a ground campus? The debate about the validity of elearning has been raging since the beginning of distance education decades ago in spite of studies showing that online courses may be of equal or even of more value.
This debate is perhaps of largest concern to parents and beginning college students who are looking closely at postsecondary learning options and the often connected possibility of gainful employment after graduation. As an educator and lifelong learner in both the face-to-face (F2F) and online modalities, I think there are some hidden benefits of online education that should be kept in mind.
ALISON.com, the UNESCO award-winning, free, online education provider for basic education & workplace skills which celebrates its 5th birthday this week, has become the largest and most successful free learning website of its kind worldwide.
ALISON.com, the free online learning provider for basic education and workplace skills training celebrates its 5th Birthday this week. One million people have registered with ALISON across every country worldwide, studying in excess of 100 million pages of free interactive training. ALISON will graduate over 100,000 people through its free Certificate and Diploma courses in 2012 and by the end of 2012, will have 1,000 free online courses.
ALISON Founder & CEO Mike Feerick said that “there is huge demand for freely accessible high quality education and skills training across the world, and ALISON is determined to be the global leader in meeting this need. With increasing access to the Internet, via traditional laptops and PCs to wireless devices, people everywhere are beginning to take advantage of free resources like ALISON, both to better their own economic prospects and the prospects of those around them.”
ALISON provides courses on a wide range of topics in English, Arabic, Spanish, and French. Its largest learner communities reside in the USA and UK, with the fastest growing communities in India, South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen and Brazil.
Over one thousand ALISON learners from all over the world have left birthday wishes and comments on the ALISON free learning service in recent days. If you have not heard of ALISON before, take time to read some of these extraordinary messages.
It’s time for SimpleK12’s Online Education Conference – a 24 hour Training Extravaganza! An international conference that’s 100% FREE! No travel. No registration fees.
We’re camping out in the SimpleK12 offices (bunny slippers on, coffee in hand) for 24 hours straight to bring you the best-of-the-best conference sessions with presenters from around the world.
We may be crazy… but we’re crazy for online professional development! Won’t you join us? Come to one session, or come to them all (we dare you!).
[Register for the sessions on the site]
Full info: Webinars.
Online education is growing, not only at the university level, but also in secondary and elementary grades.
Faculty Development in Blended and Online Learning
12 to 14 March 2012
Houston, United States
Explore the best approaches for engaging and supporting faculty interested in the online and blended teaching environment.
Providing faculty with the structure they need to successfully make the transition to online teaching requires a shift in the understanding of technology, a comprehension of the new online and blended teaching environment, and effective administrative support.
Join us to explore the best approaches for engaging and supporting faculty interested in the online and blended teaching environment. This interactive workshop will address the areas of professional development essential to the preparation of instructors for online teaching and learning success. Each participant will return to campus with a relevant framework that covers their key concerns and action steps.
University of Wisconsin-Stout: E-Learning and Online Teaching Graduate Certificate Program.
Teachers with a passion for e-learning are invited to become a CORE Foundation eFellow. This award recognises innovative e-learning practice by New Zealand teachers. Up to six educators will be supported through master classes and research into innovative e-learning practices in their schools through 2012. Continue reading
Ashworth College an internationally recognized online education company, has announced that its high school division, Ashworth High School, will return to its former moniker James Madison High School, effective January 2011. This announcement coincides with the 15th anniversary of the original James Madison High School brand.