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31 May 2013


Russ Steele

Not Everyone is Happy with Outsourcing Lectures

Students at Massachusetts Bay Community College this year got a rare opportunity to take a computer-science course designed and taught online by some of the top professors in the field.

The 17 students in a programming course at MassBay's Wellesley Hills campus watched recorded lectures and completed online homework assignments created by professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and offered as a massive open online course through edX, a nonprofit MOOC vendor co-founded by MIT.

The MassBay students met for regular class sessions with Harold Riggs, a professor of computer science at the community college. Students were required to come for only 90 minutes each week, rather than the customary three hours. And in addition to graded in-class projects from Mr. Riggs, the students completed homework assignments and three major exams written by the MIT professors and graded automatically by edX. At the end of the semester, the students who passed the class got three credits from MassBay and a certificate of achievement from edX.

Some higher-education forecasters believe this is the future of public education. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is supporting the MassBay experiment, has devoted millions to seeing if MOOCs produced by elite universities could help boost student success at financially strapped state colleges.

But where state legislators and college administrators see an opportunity, some professors see a threat—if not to their jobs, then to their freedom to teach a course as they believe it should be taught.

Bill Tozer

Mr. Steele: Oh its a threat alright. Probably just gave our resident former high school educator from The City By The Bay a major heart attack. A massive heart attack at that. There goes the argument that the po chilledrun have no access to inside the castle walls.

I was shocked that I can take on-line courses at Harvard of all places, or simply listen and watch classroom lectures on the web in real time. Like it when the camera pans to the co-eds as a bonus. Part of the school daze.


George, if you didn't read it the first time around: "The Bell Curve" caught hell for pointing out that the stratification is largely by intelligence, and it is widely available meritocratic education that's driving it.

You were more likely to have a genius for a carpenter or a baker in the 18th century than in the 21st, not to mention a mediocre Harvard grad.

George Rebane

Gregory 1014am - Yes, have it,read it, and have been preaching its realities against strong headwinds here for years. Agreed.

Russ Steele

The Diplomad had some insight into our current University education system:

Universal University Education: How many people really need a university education? Better asked, how many people really need a budget-busting indoctrination "noneducation" which is what most universities now provide? Do we need hundreds, nay, thousands of these institutions producing millions of half-literate and arrogant idiots indoctrinated in the liberal orthodoxy and possessing no discernible skills? You know the answer . . .

Bring in the MOOCs! Students get to craft their own education at a reasonable cost.

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