Bellevue, WA – 2/3/2014
To all you football fans, Go Hawks! Now on to things that are more important…
When we came into 2014, online education seemed to be on a precipice. MOOCs seemed to have some momentum.
Coursera had just announced a global expansion of its curriculum providers. Some basic business models evolved. Coursera began to make revenue from its “verified certificates” and grew to over $1 million in annual sales. The future seemed bright when the accrediting bodies seemed at a phase where they were coming to understand competency based education, assessment and continuous improvement (which are much needed core competency knowledge bases to be learned from the private and “for-profit” sector). What happened to all that noise? Are we further along, falling behind? The truth is, no one really knows how to measure education except by budgets or by profits. And so it goes…
The tightening noose of venture capital began to have its sway on young MOOC companies in the transition to 2014. Other than “sequenced certificates” the year stayed mostly quiet for MITx, which followed after Coursera once it had showed verified certificates to be a viable business model; but probably the greatest shocker was: Sebastian Thrun announcing the departure of Udacity from higher education.
The “god father of online education” could it be that you are frustrated with the system? Is corporate training and professional development truly the path to follow? Would you follow the way of your local community college CE & Extended Studies department? The battle there is even more difficult – you compete with budget from the academics… who eat up fat contracts from legacy ERP’s that aren’t compatible with the web, with no basis in embracing the web, being open and available for web services etc. So what of corporate and customized training departments? How are they supposed to compete, or are they a dying breed?
The truth is, online education is still missing one big piece. How to differentiate itself when it comes to quality against the brick-and-mortar institution. How does a public online education business create a culture of continuous improvement for itself and in the broader context of the higher education academy? Does that mean you accept standards? IACEE Standardized Score Cards? Is an international body part of the solution?
One thing seems clear. If we were to implement a common model and framework across all institutions to be able to accept and share tokens of branded worth that could cross reference the student learning outcomes to the curriculum of other such sources we would be closer to solving for the complicated technological challenges of articulation and transfer of students across State and intra-State lines, as well as streamline a variety of other data driven, value adding capabilities like accreditation review, program review & assessment, etc.
In order to accomplish this, you would need to:
1. Define standards for competency in a mix of programs,
2. Define specific student learning outcomes you might be able to tie an assessment to,
3. Index the student learning outcomes against the courses and programs within an institution,
4. Index this against all institutions within a State,
5. Index multiple States.
6. Tie Student Learning Outcomes to tokens that can be synced with a unique Student ID
7. Allow the Student to be able accept those tokens into their own Store or Backpack
8. Students can Share Outcomes from their Store or Backpack to other sources.
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