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EdX Drops Plans To Connect MOOC Students With Employers 59

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 Anonymous Coward

    This is not surprising at all. Online access to education is mostly good as a supplement to skills, not as a means to get a qualification or a job.

    • This is not surprising at all. Online access to education is mostly good as a supplement to skills, not as a means to get a qualification or a job.

      I have a similar attitude towards traditional education as well.

      Don't get me wrong, learning theory in a classroom is important. But it's not a substitute for good ol' fashioned practical experience.

      • Classroom learning == "sage on the stage".

        It's nothing more than the path of least resistance and highest convenience for researchers who are forced to show up at least a few times a year but whose interests are just elsewhere. That's why it is the way it is.

        Trying going to university and changing the way they do things, putting courses online or REALLY being innovative about how people learn and interact.

        I did in 1999. They took me apart- kicked me out of labs, literally hounded me out of school. My sin? I

        • Trying going to university and changing the way they do things, putting courses online or REALLY being innovative about how people learn and interact. I did in 1999. They took me apart- kicked me out of labs, literally hounded me out of school. My sin? I wanted to pout all my major's courses online so that profs wouldn't have to teach them over and over again and people could spend classrom time asking custom questions, which themselves would be recorded for posterity.

          If it makes you feel better, in the years since you left the process you're describing has become a major educational trend []. And I agree it's an interesting model.

          • It does make me feel better, but- and here I am being extremely personal and not at all objective- those are MY ideas MY insight . When I saw Khan academy I just thought *what took you so long* but also *is that it? *

            There's so so so much more that could be done. I am doing it. Maybe someone will get there before me but given that I've left school, had a full career, and finally turned back on what is STILL a blank space for whatever reason I think I just have to do this because surprisingly things obvi

        • TL:DR I got kicked out of college for videotaping the lectures without permission.

          • Jesus. Sorry for you. I actually had not just permission but a contract that this would be my independent senior project. Then, one day, out of the blue for no reason given they kicked me out of the only lab capable (in those days) of processing video. The lab was "private" (they said) and if one of the PIs didn't want you there, they agreed the person was out. I never met or interacted with the PI who I was told didn't want me there. No reason was given. Nice huh? "Private" entities (a couple guys) using p

    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

      Indeed, that is our experience (at a university) as well.

      Students taking online courses through the university are expected to be as proficient as the regular students - if they aren't we need to fail them or employers lose faith in our degrees.

      If you already have a degree (or most of a degree) and a job then online courses can be a great way to augment your skillset, even if you never do the the homework watching the lectures will tell you a lot of stuff you'll need to look up and learn if a particular ty

    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      Also not surprising since they started with companies like Amazon and Google. I doubt they have any problem finding enough qualified candidates from more traditional routes.

  • 'Existing HR departments want to go for proven degree programs and filter out unproven candidates.'"

    HR department don't like to be product testers.

    • Doesn't help that it's a buyer's market. If they have 100 resumes for a position, 50 of which have degrees from brick and mortar institutes, and 50 of which have MOOC degrees, guess which 50 are going to be chopped first?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Students who don't show up to class don't take out millennium old college system in first try. News at 11.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That summary is extremely clumsily written. "...none of them were hired failed"? What kind of gibberish is that?

    And whats the big deal about filtering by which method a degree was obtained? Is a degree somehow better if its obtained by physically sitting in a classroom with 30+ other people? The content is the same, the students learn the same material to qualify them in a given field (which is what a degree certifies). Are they admitting that degrees are basically worthless, since something as trivial

    • To an HR person who probably got a BA at a brick and mortar institute, yes. That said, an employer really doesn't need to know that your classes were online, so long as you have the degree. And they won't know unless you tell them. Save that discussion for the interview process.
    • It seemed like a perfectly cromulent summary to me.

    • after a pilot program in which none of 868 students were hired failed

      "What kind of gibberish is that?" It's unemployable gibberish. To start with:

      after a pilot program failed in which none of 868 students were hired

      It still sucks. No amount of rephrasing will fix it. It's trying to create an infantile shock reaction while tiptoeing around the essential factoid:

      The vast majority of the students were from outside the United States, and many were working professionals.

      We don't want to think, we just want

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:30PM (#45707271)

    Yeah now that students are wised up to the Bad Deal []

    student loans are and are avoid college unless they can pay (which after decades of tuition inflation, they can't) they really have no means to support themselves except through raiding the ol' endowment , which can last at best another 7-10 years even in the case of multi-billion dollar endowments.

    They can see online learning is going to rip them a new one, so thy're trying to get out ahead o fit,. now how to make money from it so things can be business as usual (hint: you can't!). Hey, maybe if we cut ourselves a slice of that Monster pie, we can keep this thing going.

    Here's a dose of reality. For decades and decades you've ripped people off imposing double and triple inflation rates tuition increases with not a thought to the financial burden you were imposing on "people barely not children" and co-signing grandmas. Then you lobbied congress to make student loans unbankruptable just to keep your gravy train going. You discouraged stymied and thwarted every attempt to put your courses online or bring costs under control right up until Kahn Academy proved it was so simple it could be done by one guy with a magic marker.

    Now you're all about it!

    But the math still doesn't add up, does it? No , it really doesn't. You're still just fucked.

    Sometimes in life, the new things just don't include the old things in any way at all.

    And you thought you were bigger than history and changing times.

    I just want to make sure that the state doesn't waste our precious taxpayer money making good on pension obligations when you-all go bankrupt, which can't be too soon.

  • by Bugler412 ( 2610815 ) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:37PM (#45707365)
    No one already established will take a chance on a new method or paradigm. This is why all real changes happen in smaller, lighter, hungrier companies.
  • Employers don't care about your education or your skills, they care about the modern school which offers nearly ritualistic schooling, and that you have it on paper.
  • 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 []). Schools join the consortium by putting up more investment money [].

    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 []), 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 [], the introductory video [] 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 [] and technique []. 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.

    • As far as anyone can tell, edX is surviving on investment money

      It's called "VC fumes".

    • Investors demand that edX vacate the higher educational "market" and focus exclusively on corporate training in five... four... three... two....

  • by Slugster ( 635830 ) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:51PM (#45707521)
    A US Supreme Court case found that if an employer was using skills testing that resulted in racial discrimination, then they were guilty of racial discrimination if they intended to be discriminating or not:

    The court case is "Griggs vs. Duke Power"
    For an explanation, see- []

    The only kind of testing that US companies can use now without fear of discrimination lawsuits, is educational requirements. Ridiculous but true.
    • This seems to me to be a case of Duke power getting unlucky. There's probably a larger list of companies that got away with it. Every business screens its applicants. A high school degree isn't really necessary for most jobs out there, but it is a pretty good filter for fuckups.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Meanwhile all these filtered "fuckups" go on to become a growing and ever more insidious underclass of poverty and crime.

        Great system you've got going there, can't see it working out for you.

    • Out of curiosity, I wonder why they just don't use race-weighted skill tests? Pick the top 1/3 white, 1/3 black, and 1/3 Asian from the skill tests. No?
  • Re: “We’re taking a phased approach to head in the direction of completely democratizing education,” said Mr. Agarwal. “It’s not something you do overnight.” Yes, Mr. Agarwal, it isn't something you do overnight. Why don't you look at the democratised, publicly accountable education systems we already have in place around the world? For all their shortcomings and issues, they provide better cognitive development, instructional scaffolding, and learning outcomes than any
    • What? I got to learn neural networks from Greg Hinton, and Quantum Computation from Umesh Vazirani, and got to interact with TAs and other students much more than I did in any traditional classroom.

      Gary Burton in the Jazz Improvisation MOOC noted that in classes he teaches in physical classrooms, the students rarely talk to each other outside of class. But in MOOCs there is a lot of peer interaction on the forums.

      • MOOCs are useful and productive to a small minority of "autodidacts" that could probably learn what they wanted to by searching the web and/or going to libraries and/or buying books anyway. Isn't that true for a lot of /. -ers? Aren't a lot of us self-taught?

        The idea of MOOCs as a replacement aimed at the majority of learners simply isn't workable. For a more comprehensive view, see: []
        • 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.

  • as there are nontraditional candidates who have disability who do better in more hands on learning.

Neutrinos have bad breadth.