TGIF – Massively Open Offline Colleges Are Broken

March 22, 2013 by Bill Bradley

As the week winds down, we wind down with some tidbits for your information, education, health, and enjoyment.

Quote of the Week: “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”  Albert Einstein

Humor Break:

Bev: Al, what is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

Al: Knowledge is knowing that the tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

Stat of the Week: Let’s see what we have here for this week.  Oh, this is interesting, since 2000 the cost of a four-year college education has gone up by 72% while during that same time the average earnings for bachelor graduates has decreased 14.7% (see article for details).  In a way I am not surprised.  I once taught in the graduate school of a famous football factory in Southern California.  I got into it with the Dean.  In simplified terms, I said the mission of the Graduate School was helping students learn.  He was adamant that the mission of the Graduate School was making money for the school.  So much for education.

What is the expression? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Well look at the stats in the above paragraph.  Higher education is broke (well not in the financial sense since the dough keeps rolling in). What’s at issue, see below.

It is worth quoting extensively from this article to entice you to read the whole thing.  Here is what an NYU professor has to say:

“And now here it is. And it turns out my job is to tell you not to trust us when we claim that there’s something sacred and irreplaceable about what we academics do. What we do is run institutions whose only rationale—whose only excuse for existing—is to make people smarter.

Sometimes we try to make ourselves smarter. We call that research. Sometimes we try to make our peers smarter. We call that publishing. Sometimes we try to make our students smarter. We call that teaching. And that’s it. That’s all there is. These are important jobs for sure, and they are hard jobs at times, but they’re not magic. And neither are we.

For all our good will, college in the U.S. has gotten worse for nearly everyone who relies on us. For some students—millions of them—the institutions in which they enroll are more reliable producers of debt than education. This has happened on our watch.

Instead, like every threatened profession, I see my peers arguing that we, uniquely, deserve a permanent bulwark against insurgents, that we must be left in charge of our destiny, or society will suffer the consequences. Even the record store clerks tried that argument, back in the day. For us to behave as if we have—or should have—a monopoly on educating adults is just ridiculous.”

Action Tip: If you care about education, please take 5-7 minutes to read the above enlightening article on the state of education.

Self-Development Corner: Well if massive offline (classrooms) colleges are not doing well, the massive open online courses (MOOC) might be part of the solution.  This week’s suggestions from Coursera, the free MOOC, includes a little variety for the broad interests of our readers: Learn to Program: Crafting Quality Code (March 25, 5 weeks, University of Toronto); Web Intelligence and Big Data (March 25, 10 weeks, simultaneously offered at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi); Introduction to Psychology as a Science (March 25, 11 weeks, Georgia Tech); and Surviving Disruptive Technologies (March 25, 7 weeks, University of Maryland).  My dark side wants to recommend this last one to some of the critics of MOOCs.

And finally, for those interested in healthcare, Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act (March 25, 8 weeks, University of Pennsylvania) and  Medical Neuroscience (March 25, 8 weeks, Duke University).

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Engagement, Leadership Development

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