“Earlier this summer we let you know about a new subset of our HarvardX online courses that feature premium Harvard content, small cohort-based learning, higher touch with Harvard faculty and peers, and a valuable HarvardXPLUS credential. The first HarvardXPLUS courses are set to launch on September 12, and there’s still time for you to register.”
Link. And yes, they cost.
With these ideas in mind, we’re excited to announce the launch of HarvardXPLUS: new higher-touch versions of select popular online courses. With limited enrollment and smaller cohorts, HarvardXPLUS will allow you to engage even more with your fellow learners, and with Harvard faculty and teaching fellows.
The program also includes a new HarvardXPLUS credential that will clearly represent your commitment and hard work in completing these courses, as well as a deeper level of engagement and mastery of defined learning objectives.
At some stage these courses are going to surpass residential quality courses in many universities. The convergence will continue, although hopefully not of language (higher-touch anyone?)
I suspect my analogy is wrong, but I am going to persist. In economics, the subject is often divided into ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ — microeconomics and macroeconomics. The problem is how you meld the two together in a coherent intellectual way. To me there is a flavour of the absurdity of John Tyndall’s quote to the effect ‘that it would be possible to predict Hamlet from a knowledge of the forces between the atoms in a mutton chop’ (quoted by the late physicist and sociologist of science, John Ziman).
Yesterday, I was at Senate, listening to presentations on distance learning, MOOCs and ‘disruption’. The memes of my first paragraph came to mind. On the one hand we have the macro world of finance, fashion, innovation, novelty, and professional jousting and jostling for power; and on the other, the micro world of experiment, and laboratory control, and the tired p<0.05 that has come to replace thinking. The former is going to win, because when the search space is so large, intuition is all you have. Academia will indeed change, because many of academia’s methods are what we use once the terrain has been mapped out. We are not there yet, but the insights of the legendary scholar De Selby comes to mind: serious science takes over from relevance.
The MOOC revolution that wasn’t. Useful brief summary of MOOCs — cMOOCs, then the Ivy league (and New York Times) by Audrey Watters. I still think the story isn’t over, and remain puzzled by the absence of discussion about the fact that the OU really did so much of this so long ago. I forget the origin of the aphorism, but remember: ‘The two most potent educational forces of the 20th century were Penguin books, and the Open University’. I can still remember buying Penguin science books in my early teens; and staring at the TV on a Sunday morning, watching all these strange looking people, who didn’t look like my parents: they were called academics, and the dress sense was not what I was used to. And, in turn, my kids think I look a bit like them: strange.
But, I still think the whole movement is positive. We are going to use online more, and few areas of human endeavour don’t benefit from scrutiny and challenge. I think we can improve teaching, and improve it at scale and reduce the cost. I am however puzzled about those in the business of MOOCs. If the article is correct in arguing that more and more the future for some MOOCs is in business and technical education — the pivot, so to speak— do the founders really want to be in this space?