Competition for the college degree?

11/4/2012: Obviously there’s lots of competition between universities for students. Some of it is based on the consumption value of the “college experience” and some on the employment value of the degrees we issue them. There are some fairly attractive alternatives to the “college experience” – travel the world, be a ski bum, etc. But for most smart 18 year olds there are no good alternatives to the college degree part of college. The MOOC’s are one possibility, this NYC article discusses that and what is to me a more promising alternative – badges based on crowdsourced feedback.

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5 Responses to Competition for the college degree?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps I am being an old Luddite who can’t see the future, but do you really think Badges and MOOCs are the wave of the future and the salvation of American Education?

    I was at a presentation by a representative of US-ED who was expounding on this idea, but I have a few observations:

    1) Are we just–yet again–pandering to the millennials? Badges may have their use prior to age 11 but college students, professionals, and doctors? Is it not enough that you have already watered down your curriculum to keep those tuition checks coming, does the Admin at the school now get to say: “give me $2000 and show me your badge and I will give you a UO Calculus badge.” Can we change the entire transcript to badges? Perhaps it will be useful when you visit your oncologist and see that she has 22 different badges including ones for 50+ surgeries and 2 year average survival rate. Too bad she is still working on the badge for your particular affliction and you are hopefully successful patient number 7, she has already lost 23 trying to get the magic number 7 for her badge that will increase her pay and prestige, she is really motivated, and you might just be lucky number seven.

    2) Is this not the same self selection we always see where the 2% in the front row (or the back row) of the class get the most out of their education, but if we no longer have a class and a professor, how is a MOOC going to let this self selected, motivated population inspire the instructor to stay three hours after lab is over, extending their knowledge, going into more detail than the watered down Music Video.. er MOOC can allow?
    Or is this more like the lazy teacher everyone loved because he just showed videos in class and handed out A+ (badges).

    3) What happens when the millennia’s (et al.) grow tired of the social artifice of badges, just as they did with all those other discarded games and technologies through their life: MySpace, farmville, facebook, etc.

    3a) The article states “borrowing techniques from video games that keep users playing, until they advance to the next level.” That also creates the strongest failings of this system: I am sure there are actual numbers since the business model in the game, software and technology industry are based on it (read one year IPhone Cycle), but I would say that social games have a half life of about a year, and the motivation to hack and cheat the game causes the engine to become worthless in a very short time requiring upgrades, patches, new versions, and finally wholesale migration to a new game. How long was Joey on the front of the Football game? And think about Second Life, MySpace, EverQuest, WOW, MineCraft and dozens of other niche constructs that serve a very small population, not to mention phones, and computers. Is education really best served up as capricious game cycle? If it is I should be genius given the number of hours I put into the Oregon Trail, Tetris, Madden, FIFA, and GTA. What badges do I get for these? Oh wait I do have XBox trophies.

    4) So how will these works? Is College Board the only one who can give out SAT badges? What about the ACT badge? Will it be worth more if you have both? Will the high school grad badge be worth anything? Are CVs going to be made of badges? Like the USED presentation will the CV really have a picture of a Virtual Backpack to put our badges on? For a fee can we upgrade to a real backpack and badges to carry around with pride? And if So can teachers start posting badges again on the front door of the class? Or will that be illegal because someone’s ego may be hurt?

    5) Do we not already have badges? It is called your transcript, your CV, your resume, etc. If these are too limited then expand them, but a whole new process based on jpegs, spawned from the Boy Scouts and bible camp?

    Can we just stop pandering to this preadolescent mentality and demand rigor of ourselves and critical thinking of our students?

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Buy stock in a badge company!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Dog says

    The salvation of American Education lies in two directions 1) have less students per faculty member and smaller classes; 2) rebuild our learning facilities into dynamic, active learning spaces, involving collaboration, surface computing and the like.

    The primary reason that MOOCs can exist is that we are all still stuck in the lecture mode of teaching and learning. Very little evolution there. If we can’t evolve we deserve to go extinct.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent point. If we don’t offer more on campus than a student can get through a MOOC, we will have problems. Some percentage or our courses, I don’t know what that is but we should find out, are little more than a transfer of information. Those can easily be replaced.

      I know, I know, college is an experience, more than just classes, etc. But if the cost of that becomes too high, students will choose cheaper options once those cheaper options are valued by the marketplace.

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