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Education Businesses

EdX Drops Plans To Connect MOOC Students With Employers 59

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-job-for-you dept.
First time accepted submitter cranky_chemist writes "MOOC provider edX plans to abandon a program that allowed companies to mine their massive open online courses for talent after a pilot program in which none of 868 students were hired failed. edX cited HR departments for the program's demise, stating 'Existing HR departments want to go for traditional degree programs and filter out nontraditional candidates.'"
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EdX Drops Plans To Connect MOOC Students With Employers

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  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:50PM (#45707511) Homepage Journal

    As far as anyone can tell, edX is surviving on investment money (such as this one [chronicle.com]). Schools join the consortium by putting up more investment money [bloomberg.com].

    They're burning through this money with no clear business plan; specifically, they don't have a product to sell.

    On top of this, edX at least seems unconcerned with the quality of their offerings. For example, their course offerings aren't searchable by keyword (that I can determine [edx.org]), you have to slog through the entire catalog to see if they have something with, for example, "neuroscience" in the title. Having found a neuroscience course [edx.org], the introductory video [youtube.com] tells the prospective student nothing about the course - it's completely useless.

    Pointing this out to them, they said that there's nothing edX can do - Harvard is responsible for that course, and edX is only being used as a marketing vehicle.

    Other players are making innovative changes in infrastructure [hackaday.com] and technique [huffingtonpost.com]. None of this is happening at edX or Coursera - it's all videotaped traditional lectures. There's nothing that distinguishes the big MOOC product in a business sense; ie, nothing that says "our product is better for *this* reason".

    As an outside observer, the big MOOC players appear to be living a bubble similar to the 2001 tech bubble: lots of hype with no clear business plan.

  • by blue trane (110704) on Monday December 16, 2013 @08:11PM (#45709701) Homepage Journal

    The article makes a lot of incorrect assumptions. For example: "I’ve noticed that proponents of MOOCs tend to not be in higher education." And yet the founders of MOOCs are in higher education: Andrew Ng, Sebastian Thrun, Anant Agarwal.

    Another assumption: "MOOCs rely on automated grading to evaluate student progress." There are other methods, i.e. peer review. I find reviewing others' assignments, on which I've worked myself, very educational.

    The comparison to correspondence courses is misguided, since MOOCs allow for real-time interaction with other students via the forums, and immediate feedback on assignments. So while I'm interested in a question, while it's fresh in my mind and perhaps I was debating which of two answers to choose, I can get the instructor's idea of what the answer should be right away. Then if they aren't too strict about enforcing the ridiculous honor code I can challenge the instructor's idea, if I want, on the forums.

    The author assumes that MOOCs can't provide "the skills that we actually want students to gain in a liberal arts environment: creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking." But I've found a lot of all three in the forums. In physical classrooms, I didn't find very much, because there were too many distractions involved with what clothes I was wearing, who was sitting next to me, not being able to see the blackboard, missing something the instructor said, waiting while the instructor erased the board, etc.

    Point 3 about credentialing reinforces the idea that what universities are really selling with their degrees is the assurance that the graduated student is properly submissive to authority and will conform to whatever arbitrary, ethically-challenged commands a greedy, selfish, control-freak boss throws his way.

    The article's discussion of MOOC forums is contrary to my experience. I have found very good and creative discussions in the forums, and participation by the instructors (not in all classes, but in quite a few). Some TAs are also very active and helpful and can clear up mistakes made in the videos, for example. The author's point about there not being enough qualified people in advanced topics, again, does not agree with my experience. I find that there are a lot of very advanced students taking these classes, with advanced degrees in the subject, and very willing to help others.

    As for point 5, I rarely felt I got individual attention from any physical class I took. I feel much less constrained to ask questions on a discussion forum than I ever felt in a classroom or instructor's office.

    In conclusion, I think you discount unfairly a lot of learners.

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