CommunityFDL Main Blog

Educators Wary of Tech Fixes for College Affordability Crisis

.

As tuitions rise and the job market still slumps, many young college graduates are wrestling with the question of how to make their increasingly expensive educations pay off. Now, new technologies are emerging as a potential solution for the college affordability crisis, according to some educational administrators and officials. The growing public fascination with “Massive Open Online Courses,” or MOOCs, suggests that in the near future, a public university degree may become cheaper and more accessible, with a greater economic “return on investments” for the government. Yet some education advocates are wary of the MOOC phenomenon and urge the government to focus on brick-and-mortar educational investments before seeking a magic bullet.

Though MOOCs are still in their experimental phase, they are being heavily marketed through flashy programs like EdX, which features online courses ranging from “International Human Rights” to “Neuronal Dynamics,” taught by faculty at Harvard, MIT and other top universities and accessible tuition-free, worldwide.

And President Obama’s recently issued college affordability plan cites MOOCs as a tool for boosting return on investment for public education funding, since the model can ostensibly be scaled up to full degree programs—sometimes simply by tacking on a completion certificate that makes the MOOC credentials more official. These education modules are delivered at a mass scale with little overhead, accessible from any Internet connection and supplemented with online tests, peer discussions and tutors.

A new report by the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, however, warns that college administrators and politicians might be investing too much in corporate-controlled, data-driven online learning programs.

The Campaign, which was founded by higher-education faculty and staff, argues that what appears to be a trendy meritocratic educational enterprise may still lack the quality-controls and credibility of regular academic work. The report points to a dismally low completion rate—less than 7 percent, according to one analysis of 29 MOOCs—as well as the hefty costs of deploying and maintaining the technological and logistical infrastructure of the coursework.

Another potential issue with MOOCs is that –since prestige is a huge factor in how a job candidate’s academic background is evaluated–employers appear lukewarm about online credentials. The report notes that, according to poll data, “the educational prestige and competitive employment edge will stay with the traditional universities and the more privileged students who attend them.” So ultimately MOOC credits might not really broaden opportunities for the students with the most to gain from a diploma:

CommunityMy FDL

Educators Wary of Tech Fixes for College Affordability Crisis

(Wikimedia Commons/Avatar)

Originally published at In These Times

As tuitions rise and the job market still slumps, many young college graduates are wrestling with the question of how to make their increasingly expensive educations pay off. Now, new technologies are emerging as a potential solution for the college affordability crisis, according to some educational administrators and officials. The growing public fascination with “Massive Open Online Courses,” or MOOCs, suggests that in the near future, a public university degree may become cheaper and more accessible, with a greater economic “return on investments” for the government. Yet some education advocates are wary of the MOOC phenomenon and urge the government to focus on brick-and-mortar educational investments before seeking a magic bullet.

Though MOOCs are still in their experimental phase, they are being heavily marketed through flashy programs like EdX, which features online courses ranging from “International Human Rights” to “Neuronal Dynamics,” taught by faculty at Harvard, MIT and other top universities and accessible tuition-free, worldwide.

And President Obama’s recently issued college affordability plan cites MOOCs as a tool for boosting return on investment for public education funding, since the model can ostensibly be scaled up to full degree programs—sometimes simply by tacking on a completion certificate that makes the MOOC credentials more official. These education modules are delivered at a mass scale with little overhead, accessible from any Internet connection and supplemented with online tests, peer discussions and tutors.

A new report by the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, however, warns that college administrators and politicians might be investing too much in corporate-controlled, data-driven online learning programs.   (more…)

Previous post

New Study: Koch's Could Make $100 Billion on Keystone XL Pipeline Deal

Next post

FDL Book Salon Welcomes David Segal, David Moon, and Patrick Ruffini, Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, the Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists and Suits Teamed Up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet

Oxdown Diaries

Oxdown Diaries