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MOOCS and gov't/independent diploma credentialing

GMTplus7GMTplus7 Registered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
An intriging idea in the Economist magazine:

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21605906-cost-crisis-changing-labour-markets-and-new-technology-will-turn-old-institution-its
Rather than propping up the old model, governments should make the new one work better. They can do so by backing common standards for accreditation. In Brazil, for instance, students completing courses take a government-run exam. In most Western countries it would likewise make sense to have a single, independent organisation that certifies exams.


There is already precedent for independent certifications: bar exam, medical boards, CPA, engineering certification. Even colleges acknowledge independent certification by way of giving college credit for high AP scores.

Since students are going into ruinous debt to acquire sonething that is the equivalent job qualification that a HS diploma used to be, gov't/independent academic certification would seem to be an idea whose time has come.

Sure, online courses & an independent exam may not have the same level of discussion/engagement as a classroom forum, but not everyone needs it.

Replies to: MOOCS and gov't/independent diploma credentialing

  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 36,455 Super Moderator
    I like the idea. The testing would prove a minimum acceptable level of knowledge was gained.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,682 Senior Member
    From what I understand, that's how England does it.

    However, a test-based approach is not a good way to evaluate for certain subjects. For instance, US CS grads are in hot demand while UK CS grads have the highest unemployment rates of any major. One big reason is because anyone who graduates from a good CS program in the US is sure to have already coded a lot as well as understand fundamental CS concepts. In the UK, all you have to do is take and pass tests, so employers often find UK CS grads to be near useless when it comes to actually doing a job.
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Registered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
    @Purple,

    There are fundamental courses, like Calculus 1, Calc 2, which could be taught online (hello khan academy!). If knowledge in these courses were accredited by an independent body, then students might be able to reduce the number of years spent in a classroom/lab, thereby reducing years of tuition cost.


    I don't see private colleges championing this idea, since it would cut into their revenue stream. But it would seem like a win for public education. For states, this would appear to be a cost-effective way to fund the education for a greater proportion of its population. A lot of college degrees nowadays are disciplines which were regarded as trades a few decades back, e.g. hotel hospitality, radiology technician.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,682 Senior Member
    @GMTplus7:

    That's actually where I see higher education moving. Something like the PSU system where many kids don't move to the main campus until the last 2 years to pursue their major. Except instead attending a satellite campus, the first 2 years of gen ed classes will mostly be delivered by MOOCs.

    I've often wondered why a state university system like Wisconsin's (which has a trillion UW campuses) doesn't become something like the PSU system.

    Oh, and a ton of LACs will die over the next few decades (kind of a pity, because I appreciate their type of education delivery), but I don't believe the finances will work for most of them.

    Oh, and the privates with brand names _may_ champion this idea and adopt something like the PSU system. The top elites have to assuage their prestige-sensitive alums and may have to keep numbers low, but privates like USC, NYU, and BYU already are as big as state schools (and NYU is busily adding students all over the world). In fact, with MOOCs, USC and NYU are sure to gain far more international students than they lose in the tuition of US ones. Before long, an elite will jump in, and then most of them.
    Also, the elites probably will still be able to keep their prestige even as they expand via MOOCs, IMO. The 2 best privates in Japan (Keio & Waseda) are as big as state flagships here, and dwarf the top public (U of Tokyo). Yet they have actually gained ground on U of Tokyo in terms of how well their grads do in recent decades (U of Tokyo alums use to dominate everything: government, CEO ranks, academia; now, not as much). Likewise, both USC and NYU have gained in reputation even though they have undergrade populations as big as state flagships.
  • frazzled2thecorefrazzled2thecore Registered User Posts: 1,098 Senior Member
    edited June 2014

    We are longtime PA residents and have known many young people who have gone through the PennState system by starting at a regional campus, or sometimes finishing at a regional campus. The impression I have gotten has been that this is of very great benefit for students who are not ready to thrive in large lecture classes coming straight out of high school. I am wondering myself how many of these students would be independent enough to work their way through a MOOC without a mentor to answer questions and provide feed-back IRL.




This discussion has been closed.