There follow two notes I received in response to the recent five postings regarding online courses and technology. FYI  --  Our thanks to Dylan Wiliam and Bob Hansen for their notes.

From Dylan Wiliam:

The Future of MOOC's is already here

The unbundling of higher education services has been underway for over 150 years. In 1858, Queen Victoria granted a charter to the University of London's External Programme. Under the External Programme, students were free to prepare for their examinations in any way, and any where, they pleased. The first overseas examinations were offered in Mauritius in 1865. During the second world war, since the Geneva Convention required prisoners of war to be allowed to receive mail, many British prisoners of war in Germany enrolled in the External Programme. They received study materials, and specially appointed proctors received and administered the examinations, so that a number of British POWs actually gained degrees while imprisoned. Nelson Mandela also studied with the External Programme while imprisoned on Robben Island.

Today, the External Programme is called the University of London International Programmes, and has over 40,000 students studying in 180 countries. Each student is free to decide how much support to pay for. As an example, if a student decided not to enroll for any support, and just paid for the assessment, a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics would cost less than $6000.


From Bob Hansen:

It isn't the future Jerry, it is now...


"San Diego's Bridgepoint Education said Monday that it's laying off 450 admissions counselors and reassigning 400 others as it seeks to better prepare incoming students for college and boost support for current ones."

450 + 400 = 850 admissions counselors! And that is only a portion of their admissions army.

What kind of college has so many employees just for admissions? A college with 90,000 students, that's who!

"Ashford was acquired by Bridgepoint in 2005 when it had fewer than 1,000 students. Enrollment increased to 10,000 by 2007, with most students taking classes online. This year, the university has more than 90,000 students. Bridgepoint's revenue surged from $85.7 million in 2007 to $933 million last year."

And then you have University of Phoenix with 600,000 students in 2010, although that number has dropped 30% in the last two years.

A bubble? I think so. I think the future will be a college crash.

On a side note, I remember distinctly back in the 80's the phenomenon of colleges opening in vacant commercial buildings and shopping centers. And then, in the 90's they started to disappear and I thought to myself "The government must have caught on to their scam." I was so wrong. They evolved into these mega scams like Phoenix, Bridgepoint and Kaplan.

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:   jbecker@siu.edu