The Next Education Bubble

Yes, only a small percentage complete all the work, and even they still tend to be from the middle and upper classes of their societies, but I am convinced that within five years these platforms will reach a much broader demographic. Imagine how this might change U.S. foreign aid….

I can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world — some computing from Stanford, some entrepreneurship from Wharton, some ethics from Brandeis, some literature from Edinburgh — paying only the nominal fee for the certificates of completion. It will change teaching, learning and the pathway to employment. “There is a new world unfolding,” said Reif, “and everyone will have to adapt.”

Revolution Hits the Universities,” Thosm L. Friedman

I am fascinated by this juxtaposition; one from the first section of the article and the second from the last section. First, the reality of MOOC’s (so-called massive online open courses), which set up fantastically wild expectations– a hundred thousand students take a course online!– and then completely fail to meet them in any real fashion.

Never mind that those certificates and so on that will supposedly make it all worthwhile may well price any but the wealthy out of the system, just as the old system did. Then we have the last section which sets aside all the ongoing problems and dreams– once again– of the revolution in human potential that is– it must be!– just around the corner.

I love the technology too, but this is crazy talk. After all, higher education in the U.S. is hardly thriving; it’s rooted in a system of labor exploitation– little pay, no benefits, or job security for most teachers– that would have made Harry Bennett blush. Those sorts of problems, though, just are not sexy enough to get you an article in the New York Times.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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