According to Forbes’ John Tamny “Online education only offers learning that the markets don’t desire, and because it does, its presumed merits are greatly oversold. There’s your ‘bubble.’” He summarizes “Going to college is a status thing, not a learning thing. Kids go to college for the experience, not for what’s taught. And that’s why there’s no ‘bubble’ forming in the university world.”
Tamny’s opinion is both different from most business analysts and important. His conclusion discourages further investment in current and potential start-up enterprises. It also presents another perspective for institutional boards and governments seeking to better understand the role of education technology.
Joshua Kim, in his Inside Higher Ed blog “Learn,” (here and here) was frustrated by Tamny’s choice of the term “online education.” Kim correctly reports online education technology is heavily used in traditional classrooms as well. Tmany’s article divided higher education between colleges and universities offering classroom instruction and firms offering online education that lack contact with peers and faculty—the typical MOOC provider (Massive Open Online Course). These are two extremes of Kim’s spectrum of the use of “online” technology. Tamny did not use the term “MOOC” itself.
Last fall, when Indiana University, University of Michigan, UC Berkeley, and Charles Sturt University all pulled out of the Sakai OAE project, it looked like the end for the Sakai community’s next-generation platform effort. The vastly reduced project team, consisting mainly of Cambridge, Georgia Tech, and Marist College, went into quiet mode as they attempted to figure out what could be salvaged. Now, about nine months later, they have re-emerged with a late beta of a completely re-architected system, promising a 1.0 release in early July. They have also rebranded them project as Apereo OAE, named after the new organization that is the merger of the Sakai and Jasig Foundations, and signaling clearly that the project is not intended to be a successor to Sakai but instead is its own separate project with its own separate destiny.
In retrospect, it turns out that the breakup of the grand coalition and resulting near-death experience may be the best thing that ever happened to the project.
Posted in Higher Education, Openness, Tools, Toys, and Technology (Oh my!)
Tagged Apereo Foundation, Apereo OAE, Cambridge, Georgia Tech, Jasig, Marist College, open source, Sakai, Sakai OAE
Last week senate bill 520 (SB 520) unanimously passed the California senate, and it is now heading to the assembly for review and, if passed, on to the governor for signature. I have covered the basics of SB520, shared the text of the bill, and described the first round of amendments to the bill. Michael and I have both provided commentary of the bill, and we have also written a position paper for The 20 Million Minds Foundation on the general topic of online education in California.
Now that the bill has passed its major test in the senate, it would be worth comparing the current bill with that proposed a few months ago, as the amendments have been significant. The majority of amendments have been in response to faculty concerns about governance and quality assurance of online courses. The full text of the current bill can be found here.
Highlight of Changes
Original proposal of SB520 would have:
- Created the California Online Student Access Platform to be administered by the California Open Education Resources Council (the one created to administer California’s OER law SB1052);
- Created a single pool of online versions of “the 50 most impacted lower division courses” across all three systems (University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges);
- Required the three systems to provide credit to students who successful take and pass the courses; and
- Included content that has been reviewed and recommended by the American Council on Education.
Current version of SB 520 that passed senate would:
- Create a set of three Incentive Grant programs for online courses to be administered by the office of President or Chancellor for each system “in consultation with their respective statewide academic senates”;
- Continue reading
There have been a number of LMS and Learning Platform announcements over the past month or two that will help shape the market over the next year or more. One trend I’ve described is the transition from an LMS market to a Learning Platform market, which includes a broader scope of products. Below are some of the notable announcements. I expect that Michael and I will write separate posts in more detail on several of these updates.
- LMS CEO panel discussion at Learning Impact
- Instructure, maker of Canvas LMS, raises $30M
- Desire2Learn announces Student Success System as predictive analytics with new release
- Sakai OAE recovers from loss of partners, rebrands as Apereo OAE
- Coursera shifts strategy in partnering with schools, now overlaps with LMS market
- edX finishes releasing platform code as open source
- LMS conference season approaching
LMS CEO panel discussion at Learning Impact
In mid May, Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik hosted a panel discussion of the LMS CEOs at the Learning Impact conference. Blackboard’s new CEO, Jay Bhatt, was welcomed into the higher education community with the, ahem, liveliest panel discussion in recent memory. Given the all-star panel (John Baker, CEO, Desire2Learn; Jay Bhatt, CEO, Blackboard; Josh Coates, CEO Instructure; Martin Dougiamas, Moodle Founder and Lead Developer, Moodle; Manoj Kutty, CEO, LoudCloud Systems; Matt Leavy, CEO, Pearson eCollege), I’ve been surprised to see very little discussion after the event.
But then I remembered:
The First Rule of the LMS Panel is you do not talk about the LMS Panel
Posted in Higher Education, LMOS, Notable Posts, Openness, Tools, Toys, and Technology (Oh my!)
Tagged Apereo, Blackboard, Canvas, Coursera, Desire2Learn, EdX, Instructure, Learning Platform, LMS, Sakai OAE
One aspect of last week’s Coursera announcement was the acknowledgement that MOOCs to date have primarily served as a mechanism for professional development, not as a mechanism for serving higher education per se. In the Chronicle article:
Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, acknowledged that the company was venturing into new terrain. After studying their MOOC users, the company realized that most of them had already earned college degrees, said Ms. Koller. That was well and good, but it suggested to Coursera’s founders that MOOCs would not be sufficient to achieve their ambitions.
“If you’re looking to really move the needle on fundamental educational problems, inside and outside the United States, you’re going to need to help people reach the first milestone, which is getting their degrees to begin with,” Ms. Koller said.
and from the New York Times:
“Our first year, we were enamored with the possibilities of scale in MOOCs,” said Daphne Koller, one of the two Stanford computer science professors who founded Coursera. “Now we are thinking about how to use the materials on campus to move along the completion agenda and other challenges facing the largest public university systems.”
These statements can be understood by looking at the demographic data for students that have been taking xMOOCs (i.e. from Coursera, Udacity and edX) in their first year.
Posted in Digital Democracy, Higher Education, Notable Posts, Openness, Tools, Toys, and Technology (Oh my!)
Tagged Coursera, EdX, higher education, MOOC, Professional Development, Udacity