education's digital future

Hack education weekly news: a MOOC master's degree

Udacity, Georgia Tech, and AT&T announced this week a partnership to offer an online Master’s Degree in Computer Science. The degree will cost less than $7000 (significantly cheaper than the MS that the university currently offers, in part because of the financial support for the program from AT&T), although anyone will be able to take the Udacity classes for free via its website. Udacity will take a 40% of the revenues, according to Inside Higher Ed, which also reports that Georgia Tech only plans to hire 8 or so more instructors to handle the new program, which is expected to have as many as 10,000 enrollees in the next 3 years.

Earlier this year Yale said it didn’t plan to “rush” into a MOOC decision, but this week it made public its plans to offer four courses via Coursera. This brings the number of institutions using Coursera as a MOOC provider to 70.

The University of Edinburgh has offered six classes via Coursera and released a report this week detailing its experiences. (PDF) Lots of details in the report about the university’s planning, course completion, and learners’ demographics (note: some 70.3% of those who responded to course surveys indicated they had completed a university degree.) According to the report, “It is probably reasonable to view these MOOC learners as more akin to lifelong learning students …than to students on degree programmes, which is a common comparison being made.”

Coursera announced this week that it’s partnering with a number of translation companies and philanthropies in order to translate its courses “into many of the most popular language markets reflected by Coursera students: Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Japanese, Ukrainian, Kazakh, and Arabic.”

Law and Politics
The Department of Education says it plans to fine Yale $165,000 for failing to report four forcible sex offenses on campus, as required under the Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

California Governor Jerry Brown has proposed to spend $1 billion to help the state prepare for the Common Core. The money will include training, as well as funding for the technology infrastructure to comply with CCSS’s computer-based testing.

School’s out for summer for the 400 students in the Buena Vista school district in Michigan. And, to quote more Alice Cooper, it might be out forever as the district has fired all of its teachers and closed the doors to all the schools because it has run out of money. Students will be able to attend “skills camps,” for the remainder of the school year HuffPo’s Joy Resmovits reports.

Although the state of Maine chose HP as its vendor-of-choice for its one-to-one laptop program a few weeks ago, public schools in Auburn are ditching laptops altogether and adopting iPads for kindergartners through high schoolers.

Kiera Wilmot, the Florida teen arrested for causing a small explosion in her science class, will not face criminal charges, according to the State’s Attorney General. There’s no word if the arrest will be expunged from her record or if she can return to the school that expelled her. But and her twin sister are headed to Space Camp this summer, thanks to the former astronaut Homer Hickam and a fundraising campaign by the Internet.

Former Tennessee educator Clarence Mumford was sentenced to seven years in federal prison this week for his role in a test-cheating ring. Mumford charged $3000 to arrange for people to take a certification tests on behalf of aspiring teachers in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. More details via the AP.

The education-focused investment fund NewSchools Venture Fund has proposed the idea of a “Digital Depository,” which is says “represents a reimagining of the federal role in education.” The proposal would divide districts into consortiums managed by an “independent board of directors, some appointed by federal agencies, some by private business, and some by school districts themselves”....

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