Date: Dec 10, 2012 3:37 AM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: College Is Dead. Long Live College!

Thanks, Professor Becker, for posting that exciting story by Amanda Ripley in TIME (pasted for reference below my signature.  I was in particular drawn to:
> In every country, education changes so slowly
> that it can be hard to detect progress. But what
> happened next was truly different. Within an
> hour, Maziar Kosarifar, a young man taking the
> class in Malaysia, began posting detailed
> descriptions for Niazi of the test questions in
> each video. Rosa Brigída, a novice physics
> professor taking the class from Portugal, tried
> to create a workaround so Niazi could bypass
> YouTube; it didn't work. From England, William,
> 12, promised to help and warned Niazi not to
> write anything too negative about her government
> online.
> ...

Something different seems to be 'in the air'...

Education can change - and (given the enthusiastic participation of its primary stakeholders, the students - it can change very speedily indeed! And: if education can change, so can a lot of other societal systems...


Jerry Becker posted Dec 10, 2012 5:14 AM
> ********************************
> From Time Magazine, Thursday, October 18, 2012.
> See
> -live-college/#comments
> ********************************
> College Is Dead. Long Live College!
> By Amanda Ripley
> On Sept. 17, the Pakistani government shut down
> access to YouTube. The purported reason was to
> block the anti-Muslim film trailer that was
> inciting protests around the world.
> One little-noticed consequence of this decision
> was that 215 people in Pakistan suddenly lost
> their seats in a massive, open online physics
> course. The free college-level class, created by
> a Silicon Valley start-up called Udacity,
> included hundreds of short YouTube videos
> embedded on its website. Some 23,000 students
> worldwide had enrolled, including Khadijah Niazi,
> a pigtailed 11-year-old in Lahore. She was on
> question six of the final exam when she
> encountered a curt message saying "this site is
> unavailable."
> ----------------------------------
> SIDEBAR: Can Online Mega Courses Change
> Education? -- See
> education/
> ----------------------------------
> Niazi was devastated. She'd worked hard to master
> this physics class before her 12th birthday, just
> one week away. Now what? Niazi posted a lament on
> the class discussion board: "I am very angry, but
> I will not quit."
> In every country, education changes so slowly
> that it can be hard to detect progress. But what
> happened next was truly different. Within an
> hour, Maziar Kosarifar, a young man taking the
> class in Malaysia, began posting detailed
> descriptions for Niazi of the test questions in
> each video. Rosa Brigída, a novice physics
> professor taking the class from Portugal, tried
> to create a workaround so Niazi could bypass
> YouTube; it didn't work. From England, William,
> 12, promised to help and warned Niazi not to
> write anything too negative about her government
> online.
> None of these students had met one another in
> person. The class directory included people from
> 125 countries. But after weeks in the class,
> helping one another with Newton's laws, friction
> and simple harmonic motion, they'd started to
> feel as if they shared the same carrel in the
> library. Together, they'd found a passageway into
> a rigorous, free, college-level class, and they
> weren't about to let anyone lock it up.
> By late that night, the Portuguese professor had
> successfully downloaded all the videos and then
> uploaded them to an uncensored photo-sharing
> site. It took her four hours, but it worked. The
> next day, Niazi passed the final exam with the
> highest distinction. "Yayyyyyyy," she wrote in a
> new post. (Actually, she used 43 y's, but you get
> the idea.) She was the youngest girl ever to
> complete Udacity's Physics 100 class, a
> challenging course for the average college
> freshman.
> That same day, Niazi signed up for Computer
> Science 101 along with her twin brother Muhammad.
> In England, William began downloading the videos
> for them.
> High-End Learning on the Cheap
> The hype about online learning is older than
> Niazi. In the late 1990s, Cisco CEO John Chambers
> predicted that "education over the Internet is
> going to be so big, it is going to make e-mail
> usage look like a rounding error." There was just
> one problem: online classes were not, generally
> speaking, very good. To this day, most are dry,
> uninspired affairs, consisting of a patchwork of
> online readings, written Q&As and low-budget
> lecture videos. Many students nevertheless pay
> hundreds of dollars for these classes - 3 in 10
> college students report taking at least one
> online course, up from 1 in 10 in 2003 - but
> afterward, most are no better off than they would
> have been at their local community college.
> Now, several forces have aligned to revive the
> hope that the Internet (or rather, humans using
> the Internet from Lahore to Palo Alto, Calif.)
> may finally disrupt higher education - not by
> simply replacing the distribution method but by
> reinventing the actual product. New technology,
> from cloud computing to social media, has
> dramatically lowered the costs and increased the
> odds of creating a decent online education
> platform. In the past year alone, start-ups like
> Udacity, Coursera and edX - each with an
> elite-university imprimatur - have put 219
> college-level courses online, free of charge.
> Many traditional colleges are offering classes
> and even entire degree programs online. Demand
> for new skills has reached an all-time high.
> People on every continent have realized that to
> thrive in the modern economy, they need to be
> able to think, reason, code and calculate at
> higher levels than before.
> ---------------------------------------
> TABLE OF FREE MOOCs -- Ivy League for the
> Masses. See and scoll down
> -live-college/#comments
> ---------------------------------------
> At the same time, the country that led the world
> in higher education is now leading its youngest
> generation into a deep hole. According to the
> Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Americans owe
> some $914 billion in student loans; other
> estimates say the total tops $1 trillion. That's
> more than the nation's entire credit-card debt.
> On average, a college degree still pays for
> itself (and then some) over the course of a
> career. But about 40% of students at four-year
> colleges do not manage to get that degree within
> six years. Regardless, student loans have to be
> repaid; unlike other kinds of debt, they
> generally cannot be shed in bankruptcy. The
> government can withhold tax refunds and garnish
> paychecks until it gets its money back - stifling
> young people's options and their spending power.
> For all that debt, Americans are increasingly
> unsure about what they are getting. Three
> semesters of college education have a "barely
> noticeable" impact on critical thinking, complex
> reasoning and writing skills, according to
> research published in the 2011 book Academically
> Adrift. In a new poll sponsored by TIME and the
> Carnegie Corporation of New York, 80% of the
> 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed said that at many
> colleges, the education students receive is not
> worth what they pay for it. And 41% of the 540
> college presidents and senior administrators
> surveyed agreed with them.
> -------------------------------------
> SIDEBAR: MORE: TIME/Carnegie's Higher Education
> Poll - See
> l/?pcd=teaser)
> ------------------------------------
> Arriving at this perilous intersection of high
> demand, uneven supply and absurd prices are
> massive open online courses (endowed with the
> unfortunate acronym MOOCs), which became
> respectable this year thanks to investments from
> big-name brands like Harvard, Stanford and MIT.
> Venture capitalists have taken a keen interest
> too, and the business model is hard to resist:
> the physics class Niazi was taking cost only
> about $2 per student to produce.
> Already, the hyperventilating has outpaced
> reality; desperate parents are praying that free
> online universities will finally pop the tuition
> bubble - and nervous college officials don't want
> to miss out on a potential gold rush. The signs
> of change are everywhere, and so are the signs of
> panic. This spring, Harvard and MIT put $60
> million into a nonprofit MOOC (rhymes with duke)
> venture called edX. A month later, the president
> of the University of Virginia abruptly stepped
> down - and was then quickly reinstated - after an
> anxious board member read about other
> universities' MOOCs in the Wall Street Journal.
> One way or another, it seems likely that more
> people will eventually learn more for less money.
> Finally. The next question might be, Which people
> How the Brain Learns
> This fall, to glimpse the future of higher
> education, I visited classes in brick-and-mortar
> colleges and enrolled in half a dozen MOOCs. I
> dropped most of the latter because they were not
> very good. Or rather, they would have been fine
> in person, nestled in a 19th century hall at
> Princeton University, but online, they could not
> compete with the other distractions on my
> computer.
> I stuck with the one class that held my
> attention, the physics class offered by Udacity.
> I don't particularly like physics, which is why
> I'd managed to avoid studying it for the previous
> 38 years. What surprised me was the way the class
> was taught. It was designed according to how the
> brain actually learns. In other words, it had
> almost nothing in common with most classes I'd
> taken before.
> Minute 1: Physics 100 began with a whirling video
> montage of Italy, slow-motion fountains and boys
> playing soccer on the beach. It felt a little
> odd, like Rick Steves' Physics, but it was a huge
> improvement over many other online classes I
> sampled, which started with a poorly lit
> professor staring creepily into a camera.
> When the Udacity professor appeared, he looked as
> if he were about 12; in fact, he was all of 25.
> "I'm Andy Brown, the instructor for this course,
> and here we are, on location in Siracusa, Italy!"
> He had a crew cut and an undergraduate degree
> from MIT; he did not have a Ph.D. or tenure,
> which would turn out to be to his advantage.
> "This course is really designed for anyone Š In
> Unit 1, we're going to begin with a question that
> fascinated the Greeks: How big is our planet?" To
> answer this question, Brown had gone to the
> birthplace of Archimedes, a mathematician who had
> tried to answer the same question over 2,000
> years ago.
> Minute 4: Professor Brown asked me a question.
> "What did the Greeks know?" The video stopped,
> patiently waiting for me to choose one of the
> answers, a task that actually required some
> thought. This happened every three minutes or so,
> making it difficult for me to check my e-mail or
> otherwise disengage - even for a minute.
> "You got it right!" The satisfaction of correctly
> answering these questions was surprising. (One
> MOOC student I met called it "gold-star
> methadone.") The questions weren't easy, either.
> I got many of them wrong, but I was allowed to
> keep trying until I got the gold-star fix.
> --------------------------------------
> SIDEBAR: GRAPHIC: Degrees of Difficulty -
> Tuition keeps rising, but so does the need for
> more graduates -- See
> y/?pcd=teaser
> --------------------------------------
> Humans like immediate feedback, which is one
> reason we like games. Researchers know a lot
> about how the brain learns, and it's shocking how
> rarely that knowledge influences our education
> system. Studies of physics classes in particular
> have shown that after completing a traditional
> class, students can recite Newton's laws and
> maybe even do some calculations, but they cannot
> apply the laws to problems they haven't seen
> before. They've memorized the information, but
> they haven't learned it - much to their teachers'
> surprise.
> In a study published in the journal Science in
> 2011, a group of researchers conducted an
> experiment on a large undergraduate physics class
> at the University of British Columbia. For a
> week, one section of the class received its
> normal lecture from a veteran, highly rated
> professor; another section was taught by
> inexperienced graduate students using strategies
> developed from research into human cognition.
> Those strategies mirrored those in Udacity's
> class. The students worked in small groups to
> solve problems with occasional guidance from the
> instructor. They got frequent feedback. In the
> experimental group with novice instructors,
> attendance increased 20% and students did twice
> as well on an end-of-week test.
> Minute 8: Professor Brown explained that Plato
> had also tried (and failed) to estimate the
> earth's circumference. Brown did this by jotting
> notes on a simple white screen. Like all the
> other videos in the course, this clip lasted only
> a few minutes. This too reflects how the brain
> learns. Studies of college students have shown
> that they can focus for only 10 to 18 minutes
> before their minds begin to drift; that's when
> their brains need to do something with new
> information - make a connection or use it to
> solve a problem.
> At this point in the Udacity class, three video
> clips into the experience, about 15,000 students
> were still paying attention, according to the
> company's metrics. But that's actually high for a
> MOOC. (Since it requires little effort and no
> cost to enroll, lots of people dip in and out of
> these classes out of curiosity. Only 1 in 10 of
> those enrolled in a Udacity class typically makes
> it all the way to a course's last video.) Like
> most other online classes, it was asynchronous,
> so I could rewind or leave and come back whenever
> I wanted. This also accords with how the brain
> works: humans like autonomy. If they learn best
> late at night, they like to learn at night, on
> their own terms.
> Minute 57: After 47 fast-paced videos spliced
> with pop quizzes, I did actually know how big the
> earth was. Brown had reviewed geometry and
> trigonometry with examples from actual life. And
> when it came time to put it all together, I got
> to see him measure a shadow that formed a right
> triangle, setting up a mathematical proportion to
> calculate the circumference of the earth, just
> like an ancient mathematician.
> "Congratulations!" he said. "This is really
> incredible, what you can do now." Then he asked
> the class to send in videos of themselves
> measuring shadows. I was skeptical. Would people
> actually do this?
> Yes, they would. The first video was from a young
> woman in Tampere, Finland - a drummer who wanted
> to change her career. There she was, with yellow
> dreadlocks, measuring a shadow in a parking lot.
> Another woman submitted photos of herself
> completing the experiment in Texas, plus a poem.
> A poem! "We solve for C, and long at last/ stalk
> a route into our own past."
> The Finn cheered. "Super artistic!" Brown showed
> the poem around the Udacity office. One student
> did the experiment at 0 degrees latitude in
> Ecuador. Many more people posted questions;
> within minutes, they got detailed, helpful
> answers from other students. It was as if a whole
> pop-up learning community had materialized
> overnight, and it was strangely alive.
> Turning Down Professors
> When he was a tenured professor at Stanford,
> Sebastian Thrun, the CEO and co-founder of
> Udacity, did not teach according to how the brain
> learns. He is not proud of this fact. "I followed
> established wisdom," he says. His students, who
> were used to traditional lectures, gave him high
> marks on his course evaluations. They didn't know
> what they were missing.
> In 2011 Thrun and fellow professor Peter Norvig
> decided to put their Artificial Intelligence
> class online. But when they sampled other online
> courses, they realized that most of them were
> mediocre. To captivate students from afar, they
> would need to do something different. So they
> started planning lessons that would put the
> student at the center of everything. They created
> a series of problems for students to solve so
> that they had to learn by doing, not by listening.
> By last fall, 160,000 people had enrolled. But
> the class was not particularly inspiring - at
> first. One student complained that the software
> allowed students to try each problem only once.
> "I realized, 'Wow, I'm setting students up for
> failure in my obsession to grade them,' " says
> Thrun. So he changed the software to let students
> try and try until they got it right. He also paid
> attention to the data, and he had a lot of it.
> When tens of thousands of students all got the
> same quiz problem wrong, he realized that the
> question was not clear, and he changed it. And
> the students themselves transformed other parts
> of the class, building online playgrounds to
> practice what they were learning and even
> translating the class into 44 languages.
> Meanwhile, Thrun had told his Stanford students
> they could take the class online if they didn't
> want to attend lectures. More than three-quarters
> of them did so, viewing the videos from their
> dorms and participating as if they were thousands
> of miles away. Then something remarkable
> happened. On the midterm, the Stanford students
> scored a full letter grade higher on average than
> students had in previous years. They seemed to be
> learning more when they learned online. The same
> bump happened after they took the final.
> ------------------------------------
> SIDEBAR: MORE: Reinventing College -- SEE
> -----------------------------------
> Still, the Stanford students were not the stars
> of the class. At the end of the semester, not one
> of the course's 400 top performers had a Stanford
> address.
> The experience forced Thrun to rethink everything
> he knew about teaching, and he built Udacity upon
> this reordering of the universe. Unlike Coursera,
> another for-profit MOOC provider - which has
> partnered with dozens of schools, including
> Stanford, Princeton and, more recently, the
> University of Virginia - Udacity selects, trains
> and films the professors who teach its courses.
> Since it launched in January, Udacity has turned
> down about 500 professors who have volunteered to
> teach, and it has canceled one course (a math
> class that had already enrolled 20,000 students)
> because of subpar quality.
> Right now, most MOOC providers do not make a
> profit. That can't continue forever. Udacity will
> probably charge for its classes one day, Thrun
> says, but he claims the price will stay very low;
> if not, he predicts, a competitor will come along
> and steal away his students.
> Udacity does not offer a degree, since it's not
> an accredited university. Students get a
> ceremonial certificate in the form of a PDF.
> Grades are based on the final exam. Students who
> choose to take the final for Udacity's
> computer-science course at an independent testing
> center (for $89) can get transfer credits from
> Colorado State University-Global Campus, an
> online-only school.
> Getting more colleges to accept transfer credits
> would be nice, but in the longer term, Udacity
> aims to cut out the middleman and go straight to
> employers. This week, Udacity announced that six
> companies, including Google and Microsoft, are
> sponsoring classes in skills that are in short
> supply, from programming 3-D graphics to building
> apps for Android phones.
> Meanwhile, about 3,000 students have signed up
> for Udacity's employer-connection program,
> allowing their CVs to be shared with 350
> companies. Employers pay Udacity a fee for any
> hires made through this service. So far, about 20
> students have found work partly through Udacity's
> help, Thrun says. Tamir Duberstein, 24, who
> studied mechanical engineering in Ontario,
> recently got two job offers after completing six
> Udacity courses. He took one of the offers and
> now works at a software company in San Francisco.
> Still, it will be a long time before companies
> besides high-tech start-ups trust anything other
> than a traditional degree. That's why hundreds of
> thousands of people a year enroll in the
> University of Phoenix, which most students attend
> online. Says University of Phoenix spokesman Ryan
> Rauzon: "They need a degree, and that isn't going
> to change anytime soon."
> MOOCs vs. the College Campus
> To compare my online experience with a
> traditional class, I dropped into a physics
> course at Georgetown University, the opposite of
> a MOOC. Georgetown admitted only 17% of
> applicants last fall and, with annual tuition of
> $42,360, charges the equivalent of about $4,200
> per class.
> The university's large lecture course for
> introductory physics accommodates 150 to 200
> students, who receive a relatively traditional
> classroom experience - which is to say, one not
> designed according to how the brain learns. The
> professor, who is new to the course, declined to
> let me visit.
> But Georgetown did allow me to observe Physics
> 151, an introductory class for science majors,
> and I soon understood why. This class was
> impressively nontraditional. Three times a week,
> the professor delivered a lecture, but she paused
> every 15 minutes to ask a question, which her 34
> students contemplated, discussed and then
> answered using handheld clickers that let her
> assess their understanding. There was a weekly
> lab - an important component missing from the
> Udacity class. The students also met once a week
> with a teaching assistant who gave them problems
> designed to trip them up and had them work in
> small groups to grapple with the concepts.
> The class felt like a luxury car: exquisitely
> wrought and expensive. Fittingly, it met in a
> brand-new, state-of-the-art $100 million science
> center that included 12 teaching labs, six
> student lounges and a café. It was like going to
> a science spa.
> Elite universities like Georgetown are unlikely
> to go away in the near future, as even Udacity's
> co-founder (and Stanford alum) David Stavens
> concedes. "I think the top 50 schools are
> probably safe," he says. "There's a magic that
> goes on inside a university campus that, if you
> can afford to live inside that bubble, is
> wonderful."
> Where does that leave the rest of the country's
> 4,400 degree-granting colleges? After all, only a
> fifth of freshmen actually live on a residential
> campus. Nearly half attend community colleges.
> Many never experience dorm life, let alone
> science spas. To return to reality, I visited the
> University of the District of Columbia (UDC) - a
> school that, like many other colleges, is not
> ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
> When I arrived at the UDC life-sciences building,
> I met Professor Daryao Khatri, who has been
> teaching for 37 years and yet seemed genuinely
> excited to get to his first day of class in a new
> semester.
> "They hate physics," he said about his students,
> smiling. "You will see. They are terrified." He
> led me to his classroom, a lab with fluorescent
> lights and a dull yellow linoleum floor. His 20
> students were mostly young adults with day jobs,
> which is why they were going to school at night.
> Many hoped to go to medical school one day, and
> they needed to take physics to get there.
> Khatri started the class by asking the students
> to introduce themselves. "I took physics in high
> school," said one woman, a biology major, "and it
> was the hardest class I ever had."
> "I'm about to change that!" Khatri shouted.
> Another young woman said, "I took calculus
> online, and it was just awful." It felt more like
> a support group than a college course. Then
> Khatri detailed his rules for the class. "Please
> turn the cell phones off," he said in a friendly
> voice. "Not on vibrate. I will know. I will take
> it away. Cell phones are a big disaster for the
> science classes."
> Khatri had less than one-half of 1% of the
> students that Professor Brown had on Udacity, but
> he was helping them with many skills beyond
> physics. He was cultivating discipline and focus,
> rebuilding confidence and nurturing motivation.
> "Please complain if you aren't learning," he said
> more than once.
> After a full hour of introductions and
> expectations, Khatri started reviewing geometry
> and trigonometry so that the students would have
> enough basic math to begin. He did this in far
> more detail than Brown had on Udacity, and it was
> clear from their questions that many of the
> students needed this help. As with most other
> Americans, their math and science background was
> spotty, with big holes in important places. For
> the next hour, Khatri called on every student to
> answer questions and solve problems; just as on
> Udacity, they couldn't zone out for long.
> Three weeks later, I returned to Khatri's class.
> He was about a week behind the Udacity pace, and
> his quizzes were easier. But not a single student
> had dropped his class. And when I asked a group
> of students if they would ever take this class
> online, they answered in unison: "No way."
> At this stage, most MOOCs work well for students
> who are self-motivated and already fairly well
> educated. Worldwide, the poorest students still
> don't have the background (or the Internet
> bandwidth) to participate in a major way. Thrun
> and his MOOC competitors may be setting out to
> democratize education, but it isn't going to
> happen tomorrow.
> What is going to happen tomorrow? It seems likely
> that very selective - and very unselective -
> colleges will continue to thrive. At their best
> (and I was only allowed to witness their best,
> it's worth noting), Georgetown and UDC serve a
> purpose in a way that cannot easily be replicated
> online. The colleges in the middle, though -
> especially the for-profit ones that are expensive
> but not particularly prestigious - will need to
> work harder to justify their costs.
> Ideally, Udacity and other MOOC providers will
> help strip away all the distractions of higher
> education - the brand, the price and the
> facilities - and remind all of us that education
> is about learning. In addition to putting
> downward pressure on student costs, it would be
> nice if MOOCs put upward pressure on teaching
> quality.
> By mid-October, YouTube remained dark in
> Pakistan, and the power blinked out for about
> four hours a day at Niazi's home in Lahore. But
> she had made it halfway through Computer Science
> 101 anyway, with help from her classmates.
> Niazi loved MOOCs more than her own school, and
> she wished she could spend all day learning from
> Andy Brown. But when I asked her if she would get
> her degree from Udacity University, if such a
> thing were possible, she demurred. She had a
> dream, and it was made of bricks. "I would still
> want to go to Oxford or Stanford," she said. "I
> would love to really meet my teachers in person
> and learn with the whole class and make
> friends-instead of being there in spirit."
> ------------------------------------------------------
> ----
> Ripley, a TIME contributing writer, is an Emerson
> Fellow at the New America Foundation, where she
> is writing a book about education around the world
> *************************************************
> --
> Jerry P. Becker
> Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
> Southern Illinois University
> 625 Wham Drive
> Mail Code 4610
> Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
> Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
> (618) 457-8903 [H]
> Fax: (618) 453-4244
> E-mail:

Message was edited by: GS Chandy