education's digital future

in the news

I have heard some talk lately about how technology will disaggregate higher education. The vision is that the likes of Khan Academy and Coursera will allow students to pick and choose courses and learning experiences to construct their own higher education — thus, it is asked, “Why do we need colleges, universities and dedicated faculties?” The Valhalla of limitless choice and student-driven learning presages an education built “piece-wise”: A little of this and a little of that pulled from a vast smorgasbord of providers at little or no cost to the student.

Online education arguably came of age in the last year, with the explosion of massive open online courses driving the public's (and politicians') interest in digitally delivered courses and contributing to the perception that they represent not only higher education's future, but its present.

Faculty members, by and large, still aren't buying -- and they are particularly skeptical about the value of MOOCs, Inside Higher Ed's new Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology suggests.

Sitting on a stool and staring intently at a laptop screen, Jim Huang plucked out the melody of Happy Birthday and the rock song Circuital on a guitar – an instrument he was playing for the first time during a recent visit to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif.

The seventh grader was following the instructions of Strummify under the watchful eye of Danny Cochran, a student in Stanford's Learning, Design and Technology (LDT) master's program at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE).

Universities and foundations have poured more than $100-million into creating open-education materials. But according to David Wiley, an open-education advocate for 15 years, faculty members and administrators have been slow to use the resources as alternatives to expensive textbooks.

“It’s frustrating to watch these resources keep getting created, and then watch nobody use them and watch students get no benefit,” he said.

A former New York City schools chancellor plans to use technology -- and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s $700 million endowment -- to connect more low-income students with prestigious colleges and universities.