Pearls of the Week: News Educators Need-to-Know

Image representing Pearltrees as depicted in C...I’ve selected the weightiest of pearls [bookmarks] to share this week –  critical need-to-know information for educators about MOOCs and a new ed tech tool launched this week Google’s Course Builder. New developments in MOOCs are gaining momentum which are raising questions about credentialing in higher ed institutions, forcing discussions about their implications, and in some instances impacting policy decisions within universities. Course Builder on the other hand, may impact online education at a different level, and though this open-source software has garnered much attention and touted as a big opportunity for online education, I’m not convinced that this will be the case.

For those new to Pearltrees, pearls are bookmarks; noteworthy articles, blog posts and resources which I’ve collected and organized into a digital content collection tool Pearltrees. Pearling is the primary method I use to build my knowledge network. Click here to learn more.

MOOC Developments

1)  Moody’s: Massive open online courses carry mixed credit implications for Higher Ed.  Moody’s Investor Service, a respected research company that advises firms on credit ratings and financial risk, released a report this week, “Shifting Ground: Technology Begins to Alter Centuries-Old Business Model for Universities”. The fact that an investment advising service is weighing in on the MOOC discussion is significant – education is big business and MOOCs are the newest disruptor. Key points:

  • “Most universities will likely gravitate to a ‘mixed’ model that combines residential learning with the new technology, some will increasingly feature online course delivery, and some colleges may choose to create a niche by remaining focused solely on the traditional residential-classroom experience.”
  • “MOOCs and related technology have the potential to transform a university’s operations, academic and social programming, and pedagogical approach.”
  • The report is behind a pay wall – the price to download the full report is $550.00. Someone is making money from the MOOC movement. Click here to read the summary and/or to buy the report or here for the full article.

2)  A First for Udacity: A U.S. University Will Accept Transfer Credit for One of Its Courses. The decision by a university within the United States to accept transfer credit from a MOOC provider [Udacity] is big news. Colorado State University Global Campus announced last week that it will give full transfer credits (three credits) to students who successfully complete Introduction to Computer Science: Building a Search Engine offered by Udacity. Key points:

  • “Several European universities, including the University of Salzburg, the University of Freiburg, the Free University of Berlin, and the Technical University of Munich, have already given credit for an earlier Udacity course.” Click here for full story.
  • Related story: Colorado State to Offer Credits for Online Class, NYT

 3) edX Announces Option Of Proctored Exam Testing Through Collaboration With Pearson VUEWow. This is big news. edX, the joint online venture between Harvard, MIT and most recently UC Berkley, is planning on providing students with the option of taking a proctored exam at the end of a course (MOOC). The exam will need to be completed at a Pearson VUE testing center. When we consider the previous story about Udacity and colleges accepting credits from MOOCs, one can see the implications for higher education. Click here to read the Pearson VUE press release.

Google’s Course Builder

1) Google Releases Open-Source Online-Education Software. Google released an open-source platform this week, Course Builder which has the ability to create and host an online course on the Google platform. Here is Google’s statement, which accompanies the YouTube video introducing Course Builder.

Course Builder is our experimental first step in the world of online education. We hope you will use it to create your own online courses, whether they’re for 10 students or 100,000 students. Course Builder contains software and instructions for presenting your course material, including student activities and assessments ….To use it effectively, you should … [have] familiarity with HTML and JavaScript.”

I am a bit puzzled by this tool –  who really is the target market for Course Builder?  It seems to me that with so many other options available, and many already in place, why would one use Course Builder? Another consideration is users must have skills equivalent of a Web Master, know HTML and JavaScript to work with it.  I read an informative blog post by Phil Hill at e-literate about Course Builder, and he suggests that Google’s strategy is to break into the market of hosting MOOCs for big universities and MOOC providers with this application. This makes sense, given that most of the business of hosting MOOCs is currently with Amazon’s Web Services infrastructure. As I’ve said before, education is big business. Click here to read Phil Hill’s post.

If there is one thing that is constant, it is change. To view my entire collection of Pearls, visit my Pearltree page, which is open to anyone.

3 thoughts on “Pearls of the Week: News Educators Need-to-Know

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