Graduation – Part 2

Continuing the discussion from last week, here is Part 2 of my graduation podcast that talks about whether or not a One Year BA based entirely on MOOCs and other forms of free learning can be thought of as the equivalent of a four-year degree earned at a residential college or university (and whether or not that matters).

Apologies to regular blog visitors who will hear some arguments they have read before (although this time synthesized into a the broader concluding narrative that started with last week’s podcast).

Onto Part II



2 Responses to Graduation – Part 2

  1. Zachary Thomas July 3, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    So then, here’s an idea: what if a MOOC was a comprehensive educational application that actually had different tracks WITHIN it depending on the level of involvement you desired?

    For example, an astronomy MOOC might have (1) a superficial skim of the material, maybe available as a standard documentary or in the tradition of the some of the lighter MOOCs you’ve described (we’ll call this “MOOC Lite”), (2) a “MOOC Standard” course that demands as much effort as is average from the courses you might find from one of the big three providers, and (3) a “MOOC Heavy” that actually features all the lectures from a brick-and-mortar course as well as additional material like exams, homework, readings, etc. you would actually find at the physical college (this probably resembles what we know as opencourseware).

    Then, MOOC providers could give credit based on which track you choose to complete, maybe a different number of “credit hours” for each, which reflects the amount of effort you put into the certificate (as you noted in “Graduation – Part 1”, you could still slack off and pass courses and not thoroughly engage with them as you usually would).


    • DegreeofFreedom July 7, 2014 at 1:16 am #

      Many MOOCs I’ve taken (or seen) provide some kind of tracking option.

      For example, a Coursera course on Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity allowed students to audit or take the course on a quantitative or qualitative basis. Auditors just watched the lecture videos, while quantitative students did all of the assignments (most of which involved mathematical problem sets). Qualitative students were like auditors, although they were required to submit some kind of creative project at the end of the course having to do with Einstein (projects included papers, videos and poems). I took the quantitative version, although I also decided to do something creative at the end (a movie review of a film on Einstein that included David Tennant – although not as AE).

      I’ve noticed that many courses now ask you to specify your plans for the course when you register (if you’re browsing, auditing or planning to complete it), although I’m guessing that’s being used to get a better handle on the relationship between enrollments and final results (getting away from the huge enrollment/huge drop-out percentage conversations that characterized MOOC discussions last year). It would be good to take this one step further, since I think the number of people who plan from the get-go to complete the course could be further subdivided (perhaps into honors/high-honors categories) that would generate a sub-population small enough to explore options such as human grading of essays or final exams leading to a grade (and perhaps even credit).

Leave a Reply