Sunday, August 18, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N34): Georgia Tech MOOC'd, Renting from Amazon, City Hall Library, + More

NYTimes on Georgia Tech's approach to MOOCs
Although it is just one degree at one university, the prospect of a prestigious low-cost degree program has generated great interest. Some educators think the leap from individual noncredit courses to full degree programs could signal the next phase in the evolution of MOOCs — and bring real change to higher education.
“Perhaps Zvi Galil and Sebastian Thrun will prove to be the Wright brothers of MOOCs,” said S. James Gates Jr., a University of Maryland physicist who serves on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. “This is the first deliberate and thoughtful attempt to apply education technology to bringing instruction to scale. It could be epoch-making. If it really works, it could begin the process of lowering the cost of education, and lowering barriers for millions of Americans.”
The plan is for Georgia Tech to provide the content and professors and to get 60 percent of the revenue, and for Udacity to offer the computer platform, provide course assistants and receive the other 40 percent. The projected budget for the test run starting in January is $3.1 million — including $2 million donated by AT&T, which will use the program to train employees and find potential hires — with $240,000 in profits. By the third year, the projection is for $14.3 million in costs and $4.7 million in profits.
The Economist reports on education standards and teaching students to think (Economist):
Though America’s grim education results come in for special drubbing in this book, the country is not alone in failing to teach its children how to think critically. This, at least, is the view of Andreas Schleicher, the “educational scientist” behind what is known as the Program for International Student Assessment, or the PISA test. If most exams quantify students’ ability to memorise material, this one aims to assess their effectiveness at problem-solving. Since 2000 it has been administered to millions of teenagers in more than 40 countries, with surprising results. Pupils in Finland, Korea, Japan and Canada consistently score much higher than their peers in Germany, Britain, America and France. The usual explanations for these achievements, such as wealth, privilege and race, do not apply.
Inside Higher Ed looks at Amazon's limitation on usage of your rented textbook
According to the Textbook Rental Terms and Conditions page on, when renting through Warehouse Deals, which is an Amazon subsidiary, “You may not move the textbook out of the state to which it was originally shipped. If you wish to move the textbook out of that state, you must first purchase the textbook.”
If Amazon does determine that a renter has moved his or her book to a different state “at any time during the rental period,” the company at its “sole discretion” can charge the consumer the buyout price of the textbook.
Some experts believe the policy is another reflection of the extreme lengths to which the company continues to go in order to avoid collecting state sales taxes. But could Amazon’s use restriction and other complicated rental conditions cause problems for students or lead potential textbook renters to take their business elsewhere?
Interesting video article on City Hall's hidden library of special collections.

From Twitter this week:

Muscle Shoals: watch an exclusive trailer for a documentary about the music born in the Alabama town

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