Monday, September 17, 2012

Media Week (Vol4, N38) Career & For Profit Education, Saylor's Free Content, Google Ed Software + More

If employers won't value for profit education what's the prospect? (WaPo):
Education researchers have actually conducted a number of studies about this. As of a few years ago, the findings were pretty bleak for the industry. A literature review in 2009 found that ”all scholarly research to date has concluded that the ‘gatekeepers’ [human resources managers, executives, etc.] have an overall negative perception about online degrees.” But online teaching has gotten a lot better in the past three years, and the results are starting to show up on surveys of employers. One study found that half of executives viewed MBAs earned online as no different from ones earned in person. That’s still substantial stigma, though. If half of employers don’t think your degree is worth as much as those of other people applying for the same position, that’s not a great position to be in.
Can on-line higher education be free? Saylor Foundation thinks it can (IHeD)
This fall will be Saylor’s launch, for all practical purposes. Although the foundation has gotten some notice among higher-education reformers, the fleshed-out majors make the concept tangible. Based in a sleek but noisy office in the Washington's ritzy Georgetown neighborhood, the foundation’s 20- and 30-something employees are working with faculty members to put the finishing touches on courses.

Angela Bowie is one of those faculty members. Based in Philadelphia, Bowie has worked as a lobbyist and teaches political science and history, mostly at community colleges or regional public universities. She saw a job ad for Saylor, and tossed her hat in the ring. Bowie said the foundation put her through the wringer, asking for information on every course she’d taught over the last decade.

“They did a very thorough vetting,” Bowie said. “More than any other college I’ve ever worked for.”

Saylor has a training program for faculty members, which Bowie also described as thorough. In particular, she praised the foundation’s focus on learning outcomes. Saylor's faculty are paid on an hourly basis, a foundation official said. And Saylor is a side gig for most, who work as professors or adjuncts at traditional universities.
Google unveils an open source education software (PC):
"The Course Builder open source project is an experimental early step for us in the world of online education," Norvig said. "It is a snapshot of an approach we found useful and an indication of our future direction. We hope to continue development along these lines, but we wanted to make this limited code base available now, to see what early adopters will do with it, and to explore the future of learning technology."

In addition to offering a new platform for empowering educators, the effort is also a unique opportunity to connect with Google's research team. Over the course of the next two weeks Google plans to directly interact with Course Builder users via Google Hangouts. The Course Builder support site is already live and the free software download has already received its first update. For those unsure about their level of skill as it relates to the possible use of the software, Google's Course Builder Checklist offers a reassuring primer on exactly what to expect and how to get started.
Peter Osnos in The Atlantic on the Cruel Paradox of Self-Publishing (Atlantic):
And therein is the essential fact about self-publishing: Digital and print-on-demand technology has made the manufacture of books and their distribution through the Internet vastly more accessible than the traditional publishing model. But for every instance of a self-published work that gains meaningful traction because its author succeeds in finding an audience for it, the overwhelming majority of books do not. There is a menu of services available from companies like Author Solutions, including editing, design, and basic marketing that can cost up to about $5,000 and will give the book a qualitative boost. But with so many books pouring forth, gaining any attention is a formidable challenge. In its sale announcement, Author Solutions said Bowker Market Research, which is a primary source for how many books are published, reported that 211,000 self-published titles were released in 2011 in print or e-books, an increase of almost 60 percent over 2010. Presumably, that number will grow substantially again by the end of 2012.

Very few books that come from self-publishing companies end up on the shelves of bookshops, but as the percentage of the brick and mortar market gradually declines, the attractions of selling through online retailers and other e-book distributors grows. Amazon, covering all bases, has a thriving self-publishing business and now is also an acquirer of books by established authors.
From Twitter this week:

Chart: Top 100 iPad Rollouts by Enterprises & Schools (Updated Sept. 15, 2012)
Today's is the best Doonesbury ever (and education related):

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