MOOCs Are Largely Reaching Privileged Learners, Survey Finds – Wired Campus – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Penn researchers sent the survey to students who had registered for a MOOC and viewed at least one video lecture. More than 80 percent of the respondents had a two- or four-year degree, and 44 percent had some graduate education.
The pattern was true not only of MOOC students in the United States but also learners in other countries. In some foreign countries where MOOCs are popular, such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa, “80 percent of MOOC students come from the wealthiest and most well educated 6 percent of the population,” according to the paper.
In other developing countries, about 80 percent of the MOOC students surveyed already held college degrees—a number staggeringly out of proportion with the share of degree holders in the general population.
“The individuals the MOOC revolution is supposed to help the most—those without access to higher education in developing countries—are underrepresented among the early adopters,” write the paper’s six authors.
It’s well known by now that online education is booming. You can study any subject free in a MOOC — a massive open online course — from single-digit addition to the history of Chinese architecture to flight vehicle aerodynamics. Courses are being offered by universities like Harvard and M.I.T. and by the teenager next door making videos in his garage. Among the best-known sources are the Khan Academy,Coursera and Udacity. But while online courses can make high-quality education available to anyone for the price of an Internet connection, they also have the potential to displace humans, with all that implies for teachers and students.
Hundreds of universities have developed Moocs, and the organisations that have established platforms to host them – such as Coursera, edX and Udacity in the US and FutureLearn in the UK – have become increasingly well known.However, Downes fears that modern Moocs are placing less emphasis on providing an “interactive and dynamic” approach to learning such as he championed with his 2008 course and more on “static and passive” education.
A system developed by a joint venture between Harvard and M.I.T. uses artificial intelligence to assess student papers and short written answers, freeing instructors for other tasks.
Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the “send” button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program.
And then, instead of being done with that exam, imagine that the system would immediately let you rewrite the test to try to improve your grade.
EdX, the nonprofit enterprise founded by Harvard and theMassachusetts Institute of Technology to offer courses on the Internet, has just introduced such a system and will make its automated software available free on the Web to any institution that wants to use it. The software uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers, freeing professors for other tasks.
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