written by Matthew Keas (@matthiasak), Front End Engineering Instructor.
The Iron Yard Partner Eric Dodds (@ericdodds) brought to my attention the growing “openness” of education:
We talk a good bit about how education is changing. If you’re like me, your thinking probably tends to revolve around code education since that’s what we do when we go to work every day.
It’s interesting to look around and see what other schools are doing as well—there’s quite a bit of testing and experimentation happening that will influence what we know as traditional education.
Here are a few interesting things I ran across recently:Harvard Business CoreOther schools are offering online certificate programs. The Harvard Business School recently began offering a Credential of Readiness (CORe). The three-course $1,500 program is designed for people who don’t have a business degree but want to learn “the language of business.”
The idea of Harvard offering an online certificate program for $1500 is, in and of itself, a pretty crazy thing when you stop and think about their reputation, pedigree and cost historically. Also, “Business Core” is a pretty awesome/hilarious phrase.
http://hbx.hbs.edu/hbx-core/Penn State World CampusFor example, through Penn State’s World Campus, you could earn a bachelor’s degree in economics (among 19 fields of study), a master’s degree in finance (among 38 possibilities), or a doctorate in nursing.Taken in-person, that econ degree would set you back $670-$770 per credit hour if you are a Pennsylvania resident or $1,200-$1,300 if you live out of state. Taken online, the cost is about $500 per hour no matter where you live.
The idea of in-state and out-of-state is beginning to matter less. Even more interesting is that it seems Penn State seems to view the online and on campus degrees as equal even though the qualitative experience is almost certainly disparate.
What have you seen?
What other types of programs have you seen that express educators’ attempts to adapt?
I am overwhelmed by the permeability of these online markets and courses. It’s fantastic to have so many options, at a range of prices. Competition really is great for the consumer.
Information (especially that which you may find in textbooks) is ebbing towards an open-courseware approach. But with sites like Coursera, Khan Academy, MIT and Stanford’s online courseware, and so forth, maybe educators aren’t really adapting. In fact, textbooks, PDFs, and the like have been available online, legally and freely, for quite some time.
Maybe it isn’t an educators attempt to adapt, but instead a realization that there is a greater market and more cultural openness to learn online that pushes us towards rethinking education. Because of the cultural shifts set in-motion, rigorous online education is more acceptable, but it isn’t without it’s own woes.
We live in a world of options. We can specialize, or generalize, to become valuable. Now, I’ve written about my thoughts on specialization and generalization before. We can learn something effectively (like coding, or a new language), in intense, short bursts of time, and then broaden ourselves to multiply the effect. If that is true already here at The Iron Yard, could we as a society not benefit from short, intense bursts of focus on a single subject in broader education? Online courses are primarily singular-subject, but making an online course worth my time would almost certainly mean timely and unfettered human-interaction – both with my peers and with my instructor(s).
Thus, for code education (as I’m sure with many other types) there is still a missing factor - the human side. Software and customer experience is getting better with sites like Codecademy and Treehouse, but I think back to this article http://nautil.us/issue/17/big-bangs/how-i-rewired-my-brain-to-become-fluent… and I feel like ‘fluency' still comes from a lot of in-depth feedback, curiosity, and discussion with an instructor, versus a computer program. Maybe when the IBM Watson API is released, educators can finally develop effective methods of communicating difficult analytical and intuition-based concepts through MOOCs and the like.
We don’t just need pretty courseware interfaces to learn, we need natural language engines that can empathize with a student. Online software currently doesn’t intuit, nor does it empathize, like a teacher can today.