CFHE launches new video
With their new video, Teaching Millions or Making Millions? faculty organizers of the national Campaign for the Future of Higher Education have raised the level of discourse across the country when it comes to the pervasiveness of MOOCs in our midst.
In a short time span of less than a year, the Campaign (CFHE) has produced several research papers and issued a strong challenge to the online education industry to participate in a public debate regarding the impact of Massive Open Online Courses.
But it’s the five-minute video that explains it all so clearly. In the few weeks since it was release online, the video has caught the attention of media ranging from US News and World Report to Huffington Post.
The video, which can be viewed on the CCA website (cca4me.org), pulls back the curtain on online vendors including Udacity, Coursera and edX, which have been promoting MOOCs as the greatest thing since the printing press.
The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education has been countering that the pitch may be too good to be true.
The companies say they want to provide education to the most remote villages in Africa, where they may find the next Steve Jobs. Yet, CFHE’s video counters, “Most of the people MOOC promoters and online vendors say they want to help have little or no internet access. Even here in the United States, recent immigrants, people of color and the poor often can’t afford to get online.”
Though developers promise free or low-cost access to classes taught by top professors, the reality so far has been that 90 percent who registered, fail to complete them. Studies show online don’t learn as much as face to face. Yet, online boosters continue to promote themselves while venture capitalists continue to pour more than $65 million in Coursera alone and more than a billion into educational tech.
Even TV’s Judge Judy is featured in the video excoriating someone in her courtroom by saying “Online schools are in business to make money and they will take as much money as they can. They don’t give away toaster ovens,” she says.
SJSU takes a pause
Both the California Faculty Association and the Community College Association were among the founding members of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education. CFA was particularly critical of the administration’s effort at San Jose State University to jump onto the MOOC bandwagon in early 2013. By last July, the administration conceded that the experiment had resulted in disappointing student performance and it was going to “take a pause” on its relationship with edX and Udacity. Since then, the college’s Academic Senate approved a policy that would forbid the university to sign contracts with outside technology providers without the approval of tenured and tenure-track faculty members in whatever department would be affected.
“We are just keeping our eyes on people who want to monetize public higher education. There are plenty of technologies and online courses that can be helpful, but we must be responsible,” said Lillian Taiz, CFA president and professor of history at California State University, Los Angeles. “We’re ratcheting up our campaign to call people into account. They can’t just give students access to watch someone else get an Ivy League education.”
To access the video, research papers and more information on CFHE, check out http://futureofhighered.org/.