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MOOC CS degree

GenDadGenDad Posts: 56Registered User Junior Member
edited June 2013 in Engineering Majors
To alleviate many of the concerns expressed in this forum about majors, schools, cost, transfer, continued education, etc. would it be better just get MS degree of CS offered by Georgia Tech in the MOOC format? This looks like an attractive alternative from the current college-wide online courses/degrees or current free online courses - a real degree at a fraction of the cost, plus all the savings from dorm and food, in a mass production way.

Since one can find almost any courses online now for free, would it be possible that CS or engineering undergraduate degrees be offered from reputed universities in MOOCs as well in the future?

Here’s the link:
MOOC University

The accompanying link:
MOOCs Stir Up Controversy
Post edited by GenDad on
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Replies to: MOOC CS degree

  • eyemgheyemgh Posts: 942Registered User Member
    You can't actually get a degree from a reputable university right now by just taking free MOOCs. Many respected institutions offer them, mainly because the instructors like the ability to widely disperse their knowledge. They don't have fans raving everywhere. First, those who are offering them have yet to figure out a way to make money on them. Then there's the fact that they are much easier to cheat on. Finally, few kids will want their total college experience to boil down to sitting in front of a computer all day.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,448Registered User Senior Member
    GenDad wrote:
    Since one can find almost any courses online now for free

    This is very far from the truth. You can find many lower-level classes online for free these days from sources like Coursera or edX. You can't find very many classes that would ordinarily require a lab or be taught to juniors and seniors online in MOOC format.
    GenDad wrote:
    would it be possible that CS or engineering undergraduate degrees be offered from reputed universities in MOOCs as well in the future?

    I doubt it. CS might work; traditional engineering not so much. There are way too many lab and design courses required for most traditional engineering disciplines to really work in the MOOC format. Pretty much all professors and administrators that I know don't think that getting an undergraduate degree in such fashion is realistic.

    On the other hand, non-thesis master's degrees are often offered online and could probably be adapted to the MOOC format, though MOOCs would have to be altered substantially for quality control and actual grading before that would be feasible.
    eyemgh wrote:
    Finally, few kids will want their total college experience to boil down to sitting in front of a computer all day.

    Few employers would likely want that, either.
  • GenDadGenDad Posts: 56Registered User Junior Member
    Introductory Physics I with Laboratory: https://www.****/course/phys1

    I think it's an inevitable trend that more courses will be offered MOOC in the future.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,448Registered User Senior Member
    Great, so you have now pointed out one exception where GT has a pretty unique - and seemingly awesome - solution to the issue of labs. Now show me a Coursera course with a fracture mechanics lab, a fluid mechanics lab, a CADCAM lab, etc. It just isn't going to happen. The starting costs are two high for an individual student to set up that kind of lab.
  • eyemgheyemgh Posts: 942Registered User Member
    I think it's an inevitable trend that more courses will be offered MOOC in the future.

    I don't thing anyone is disputing that. What we are disputing is whether or not a full degree from a respected institution will be available in MOOC format any time soon. I don't think so. Why would they?
  • GenDadGenDad Posts: 56Registered User Junior Member
    boneh3ad, I agree with you that many labs are hard to do online, especially upper-level courses. But it's not impossible to do. Someone will come up with an idea to do it, maybe not in a couple of years. Meantime, people can start with CS degree.

    eyemgh, Institutions are doing it for the reasons given in the articles - no one wants to be left behind doing catch-ups. As for cheating, I think the deal was for students to take tests in controlled locations, like test centers. Either students know the materials or they don't on the spot.
  • aegrisomniaaegrisomnia Posts: 1,026Registered User Senior Member
    Since one can find almost any courses online now for free, would it be possible that CS or engineering undergraduate degrees be offered from reputed universities in MOOCs as well in the future?

    In the future, I think I agree this is inevitable, for most people at least. In the near future, I find it much less likely. Rightly or wrongly, this sort of thing will be viewed with suspicion by most employers as long as any of us are alive.
  • GenDadGenDad Posts: 56Registered User Junior Member
    A lifetime is a long time. I would think some sort of deals will be done within a couple years. For MOOC courses in Udacity, San Jose State and Colorado State accept the credits, albeit tests done at specific locations.

    I wouldn’t have given much thought on those schools. But it is a totally different ball game when Georgia Tech offers a degree MOOCs. Georgia Tech has one of the best regarded engineering programs in US. I’d trust its degree more than degrees from a lot other schools. I’d think a lot employers might feel the same way whether they like the format or not.

    Degree(s) on MOOCs save money and time. In the current situation with rising cost, it will be obvious to many that it’s a win-win for students, schools, and employers (who are in need of qualified graduates) in the long haul.

    My question was really whether it’s possible to get a CS undergraduate degree MOOCs any time soon since about every CS undergraduate courses can be found MOOCs, plus all sorts of humanities? Let's just say it's the case (purely for argument), would a high school student with a MOOCs undergraduate degree goes to college for MS instead of BS?
  • aegrisomniaaegrisomnia Posts: 1,026Registered User Senior Member
    Any high school graduate can go and buy four years' worth of high-quality textbooks on any subject, work through all problems, hire private tutors, use online discussion boards and forums, and appeal to the Internet. Small groups of such students might work together to help control the costs and to provide some outside incentive (assignments, grading, discussion, maybe even some limited teaching). Everything that anybody requires to be a successful CS BS graduate can be self-taught; the same is almost (and I say "almost" out of deference to others who might have different believes; I believe it's completely) universally true of all degress at the BS level, and likely beyond that.

    The traditional class-based, physical-presence format has lots of advantages. It has the potential to eliminate all unnecessary barriers to communication and interaction, making it possible for students to get personalized feedback quickly. Students share experiences directly. The process of interacting directly and physically with peers and superiors is useful in the workforce. Perhaps the largest advantage is that it is a relatively well-understood and trusted way to instruct students; since students obviously place a very high value on their education (they're certainly paying enough for it today), it's not just about the price. Students go to school because they want to maximize the chances of their credentials being recognized.

    This isn't a phenomenon that's restricted only to college/program selection. Consider that you're responsible for buying your child an artificial heart (OK, sort of a contrived example, but bear with me). You have two options: one which 95% of people get that costs $100k, and one which 5% of people get that costs $5k. Your insurance company insists that the $5k model works just as well and that you won't notice any difference, and you don't know enough about their manufacture to see anything wrong with the cheaper model. Would you be more inclined to stick with what's seen as the "sure thing", that most people do, which has widely-studied performance and outcomes, or would you be willing to go out on a limb and try the new thing - after all, there's no reason to expect that it shouldn't work.

    (And the insurance thing isn't so far off base, if one considers scholarships and other sources of funding. Scholarships for traditional institutions are plentiful, but costs associated with MOOCs may be left mostly to the parents/students).
  • GenDadGenDad Posts: 56Registered User Junior Member
    You have some good points. But just let me comment on them from the bottom up.

    Scholarships/aids are not for everyone. For many students, the type of scholarship which never goes away is called “parents’ scholarship”, which helps to pay for many wonderful things a university has to offer, including university scholarships and financial aids.

    The cost of MOOCs is at $150/class according to San Jose State. It’s very cheap by any standard even if the price doubles or triples. One day, maybe MOOCs own scholarships would be on the way.

    As more people are using the $5k artificial heart (by choice or not), data/track record/improvement, etc. will be generated. It could gradually increase its market share from 5% to 95% while after five years, the company which made the $100k product disappeared. Technology is to make things cheaper, not more expensive unless it’s a newer and better product before the competition leeches on.

    You have a valid point about college experience. I can’t argue with that. MOOCs don’t teach PE online either. But with the trend it is going with video chat/conference, is it possible that college experience or work experience going by the wayside one day? Of course, there will always students who want to live and study on campus. I am really talking about more options.

    My initial intent for the thread was to point out that if students are not happy with their majors, schools, etc. there is an alternative – get a MS CS from Georgia Tech MOOCs after their undergraduate studies, instead of changing majors/schools, etc. Self-study is a wonderful thing, but it’s more for mature students, who can control themselves.

    MOOCs are the best thing happened in education, which provides content and reach unimaginable before. Some educators and university admins may be afraid of or against it, but sooner or later, it may well become a driving force, at least from the cost perspective. Imagine if Harvard changes $100 per student per computer class (as part of a degree), could the money actually drown the school? I’d think it’s very possible.
  • Liboy597Liboy597 Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    Boneh3ad, the problem you have is that you're stuck in the old mindset of what education should be. Information and communication technologies are fundamentally uprooting every tradition-based assumption society carries on education. Most of the hoops we leap through on this path are little more than unnecessary measures of obedience and compliance with the system.



    Stony Brook has an online electrical engineering program that just started and they are on track to becoming ABET accredited VERY soon. And guess what? It consists solely of all of the UPPER level coursework with lectures and LABS delivered online.

    Stony Brook University - Electrical Engineering Online


    Online education is the future.
  • noimaginationnoimagination Posts: 7,016Registered User Senior Member
    Regarding labs: I know UND offers several online, ABET engineering degrees. They have students fly out to Grand Forks for a short period to complete intensive on-campus labs. I believe the program requires substantially more time than the traditional on-site method.

    This is not the MOOC model; however, I would not surprised to see a hybrid system develop in which labs and exams are offered through on-site testing providers while course content is delivered online by the institution.
    Boneh3ad, the problem you have is that you're stuck in the old mindset of what education should be. Information and communication technologies are fundamentally uprooting every tradition-based assumption society carries on education. Most of the hoops we leap through on this path are little more than unnecessary measures of obedience and compliance with the system.
    Maybe, but "obedience and compliance with the system" are key traits for people seeking employment as part of the system.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,448Registered User Senior Member
    Liboy597 wrote:
    Boneh3ad, the problem you have is that you're stuck in the old mindset of what education should be. Information and communication technologies are fundamentally uprooting every tradition-based assumption society carries on education. Most of the hoops we leap through on this path are little more than unnecessary measures of obedience and compliance with the system.

    Quite the contrary. I have a great appreciation for MOOCs. I say in on a few because I was curious and I certainly like the idea behind them: the dissemination of knowledge to the masses. I even (sometimes) like the format of them. It is clear there is a lot of evolution left in their life cycle still, but they are a new concept so that is to be expected.

    However, day in and day out, people come on these boards asking about getting a more hands-on experience with engineering instead of just sitting in lecture listening to theory. This means doing labs. It means going to a machine shop and having your parts made. It means turning valves and examining what the fluid does in the pipe. It means building a circuit board. It means going into that clean room lab to see how ICs are made. There are all kind of things that you just cannot reproduce on a computer screen, and a lot of these kind of things are integral to an engineering education.

    I am perfectly fine with moving to newer models of educating, including MOOCs. That doesn't mean that I think it is realistic to ever have an engineering degree to ever be given entirely via MOOCs. Until the world goes "hands-off", engineering degrees can't go completely hands-off. Until then, there needs to be on-campus, in-lab courses.
  • GenDadGenDad Posts: 56Registered User Junior Member
    Here’s an article about hands-on research. I don’t know how they did it with a 500-student cap:

    http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/brown-university-creates-a-mooc-for-high-school-students/

    MOOCs’ value for high school students and those 50% who don’t walk across the stage at engineering schools are tremendous. Some high schools may now accept MOOCs as electives upon teacher approval.

    Even if students do not get MOOC undergraduate degrees, credits transferable to reputable colleges can have a huge financial impact on parents and some students alike.

    I was wondering whether Bill Gates and late Steve Jobs would get their college degrees if they had MOOCs at their disposal?

    My apology for the following hasty calls:

    dialing Mr. Gates...
    Me: Mr. Gates, would you get your college degree if you had MOOCs then?
    Mr. Gates: I wouldn’t even bother to go to Harvard in the first place!
    Me: *^&/?!
    calling Mr. Zuckerberg now...
    oh, should I just befriend him online…?
  • Lemaitre1Lemaitre1 Posts: 1,736Registered User Senior Member
    I think the problems of academic honesty can eventually be solved through the use of technology and establishment of test centers where proctored exams can be given. As far as the quality of the courses are concerned, I have taken several in Physics and Math and think they are the equal or better than classes taught in a lecture hall.

    The problem is, as eyemgi alluded to is that no one has figured out how to make money offering MOOCS. Coursera seems to have received financing from investors and are using that money to finance their operations but a day will come when the people who fronted the money are going to want a return on their investment. MOOCS are very popular now that they are free but if they start charging for them will that popularity last?
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