How do you determine whether prospective students are prepared for the best colleges?
Today grading standards vary among teachers and high schools. Personal essays could have been written by someone else or engineered because of the work of essay-writing coaches. SAT and ACT scores can be maximized through prep courses and different techniques that have little to do with achievement. Letters of recommendations and extracurricular activities are also imprecise measurement tools. Add to this the monetary contributions from wealthy families and Ivy League slots in high schools.
This imperfect information system is reflected by the fact that more than one in four students who start college drop out or transfer within three years.
MOOCs offered by dozens of elite colleges give high school students a chance to prove that they are ready for a university. In turn, the institution gets an accurate measure of whether a student is prepared for academics. edX and Coursera offer real courses –sometimes eves the same classes that are taught to freshmen– from the world’s greatest universities.
“MOOC success is much more likely to predict success in college classes than SAT scores, because MOOC success is, in fact, success in college classes”, explains Kevin Carey, director of policy program at New America.
“Online college courses also can be a better measure of student aptitude than Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes, which are considered in admissions by many colleges.”
“The availability of real, free college courses means universities won’t have to rely on such flawed proxies in the future. Instead they’ll be able to pick and choose from among students who have already demonstrated that they can excel at demanding college work.”
Colleges are now figuring out how to incorporate MOOCs into admissions and make them recruiting tools. On the other side, students are listing MOOCs among extracurricular activities.
“It will become much harder for privileged parents to help their less-talented children game the system. Unless, of course, elite schools really wanted the children of the rich and powerful all along.”
University of Texas says their cost is $100 to $300 per course.
Teachers College at Columbia University estimates them to range from $39k to $204k each.
Harvard’s costs range from $75 to $150.
Cornell says that the cost of supporting a MOOC instructor, materials, and teaching assistant is about $50k.
Udacity reports costs of $200k to produce a course, plus $50 to run it subsequently. And costs are only expected to rise, they say.
edX gives grants of $50k for creating a course within its “High School Program”.
The two main cost components are course creation (faculty, admins, instructional designers, technical support) and the type of delivery. It is generally estimated that the cost of a high quality video production is approximately $4,300 per hour of finished video.
On average, $70k is the cost to produce a course; the delivery costs range from $10-20 per learner to access the course on Amazon or internal servers.
The new digital credentials, or badges, can solve this problem. Badges indicate specific skills and knowledge, backed by links to electronic evidence of how and why the credentials were earned. In addition, badges are not limited to what people learned in college, but everywhere else. In the meantime, traditional college degrees are inadequate tools for communicating information and presenting that data to employers.
History can now be learned in a new, engaging way with the help of one of the largest collections of objects and artifacts.
The Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex, founded in 1846, will offer three interesting MOOCs on edX.org. All courses, developed with the National Museum of American History, are currently open for enrollment.
Objects That Define America. This course, co-produced in partnership with the The Great Courses, looks at the History of America through the lens of key historic objects, artifacts, and exhibits in the Smithsonian collections –from the Statute of Liberty to the Model T.
Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture. Iconic creator Stan Lee will participate in this course. Learners who sign up and earn a verified certificate will receive a credential featuring original artwork with both Stan Lee’s and Michael Uslan’s signatures.
Teaching Historical Inquiry with Objects. This course, geared to middle and high school social studies and history teachers, will offer new teaching techniques designed to engage students in the process of historical inquiry.
“The launch of SmithsonianX on edX is one way that the Smithsonian is sharing its collections and scholarships with a global audience,” said Jacqueline Moen, Vice President of SmithsonianX. “This initial portfolio of courses with Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will offer new perspectives on understanding the American experience.”
Introduction to Bootstrap, an open-source UI framework created by Twitter to enable the creation of responsive, mobile-first web pages. Bootstrap has become a de facto standard for web design.
The first version of the diagram illustrating the many components of Open edX is displayed above. It contains various blocks that are scheduled for development but not necessarily in the current version of the Birch release.
In addition, this page explains the current architecture of the platform. It contains also a larger image of the diagram.