Who Needs Harvard When There Is Always a MOOC?

Once again, every fool and his monkey has a mile-long opinion on how academics should do their jobs. The New York Times has continued its assault on higher education by publishing a rambling, stupid piece by some strange creature called Friedman who mistakenly believes his uninformed rantings on higher ed are so useful that they need to be shared with the general public.

This is how the piece starts, demonstrating from the beginning that its author is a sad, useless blockhead:

I just spent the last two days at a great conference convened by M.I.T. and Harvard on “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education” — a k a “How can colleges charge $50,000 a year if my kid can learn it all free from massive open online courses?”

I’m not sure if Friedman is really an idiot or is just faking to be one better to complete the corrupt assignment he has been given by his worthless rag. Can he really fail to realize that the prestige and the connections people pay for when they hand over $50K per year for an Ivy League diploma are not awarded by any stupid MOOC*? I understand that the real journalism, the kind where people did some sort of research before publishing their outpourings, is dead and gone. But would it have killed Friedman to call any job recruiter and ask whether s/he would find it easier to place a candidate who has a BSc or a BA from Princeton or a piece of toilet paper from a MOOC?

We all know that I’m not a huge fan of the Ivies (to put it mildly). However, the problems of Harvard – and of any actual college – do not exist on the same level as the problems of MOOCs. People who want to waste their time on MOOCs should, of course, feel free to do so. I hope for their sake that somebody somewhere is clueless enough to offer them some sort of a job.

I keep hearing (especially from Inside Higher Ed) that my dislike of MOOCs comes from a sense of fear and envy. I’m supposed to be terrified of MOOCs’ brilliant performance that is about to push me out of my job. Supposedly, the moment the students experience the joy of reading some crap online together with 25,000 other people, they will not want me any longer.

Friedman and Co can stop worrying about me and other real educators, however. These journalists are projecting their own very well-justified fears about their profession dying out onto other professions. Contrary to their beliefs, however, the value of a real degree from a real educational institution will continue to grow. Let the lazy waste their time and energy on MOOCs if they have nothing better to do with their lives. They will be easily defeated in the competition of life by those who made a smarter choice.

* “massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aiming at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in distance education and often use open educational resources. Typically they do not offer academic credit or charge tuition fees. Only about 10% of the tens of thousands of students who may sign up complete the course.”

About these ads

60 comments on “Who Needs Harvard When There Is Always a MOOC?

      • For some subjects it helps to have problem sets or computer tutorials. Many of the MOOC courses I’ve seen are about computer programming; anyone trying to learn that on his own has to get on a computer and practice whether he’s going through a MOOC or not.

      • I’ve taken a few MOOCs on beginning computer programming. I tried reading some books on the subject, but found myself completely lost. The added interactive element makes all the difference, even if you don’t get to interact with the teacher one-on-one.

      • “A person with a degree will just pick up a book to learn something, I believe.”

        Believe what you like but the facts speak otherwise. The majority of people taking MOOCs have already graduated.

  1. I’ve yet to meet anyone who took MOOCs that have been able to utilize their education to get better employment prospects upon graduation. I’m with you, Clarissa, people will self-educate with books and the internet.

  2. “Can he really fail to realize that the prestige and the connections people pay for when they hand over $50K ”

    Fair enough to Friedman (even though he’s a fucktard), he never talked about prestige and connection, nor he’s against prestige and connection.

    Education is about knowledge, expertise and passion, not prestige and networking.

    “the value of a real degree from a real educational institution will continue to grow”

    I disagree with that, even though I do think that this value will grow relatively to MOOCs, but not in the work market in general.

    The actual University system begins to be obsolete, unless serious changes are realized. (like more restricted enrollment criterium) But MOOCs are not the threat.

    • “Fair enough to Friedman (even though he’s a fucktard), he never talked about prestige and connection, nor he’s against prestige and connection.”

      - And that’s what makes him an idiot. This is a reality that you might dislike. But pretending it doesn’t exist is simply dishonest.

      “Education is about knowledge, expertise and passion, not prestige and networking.”

      - In the ideal world, yes. But if we are talking about people who pay $50K per year, prestige and connections is exactly what they pay for.

      “I disagree with that, even though I do think that this value will grow relatively to MOOCs, but not in the work market in general.”

      - This has been the trend of the last 10-15 years. What is the reason to believe it will change in the nearest future?

      “But MOOCs are not the threat.”

      - Very true.

      • I don’t think he pretends that it doesn’t exist but he should have answered the question “How can colleges charge $50,000 a year if my kid can learn it all free from massive open online courses?”” with those concepts.

        University education is losting some value in the work market.

      • “University education is losting some value in the work market.”

        - My sister, who is one of top recruiters in Quebec, tells me otherwise. Since she places people in jobs every day, I have reason to trust her opinion.

      • I should call your sister. But I know there’s not a big demand for statisticians in Québec.

        But at least, It will lose some value of the university system continues on this trend.

  3. I think Friedman’s a bit too enthusiastic about the MOOCs. To me, they sound like a great idea, but there’s a reason why Ivy League Schools stand out from the rest of the pack and should have been honest enough to mention their prestige and illustrious history, even though I still wouldn’t want to spend all that money trying to get a questionable degree from any of those schools if they don’t teach exactly the right skills I need at a specific, labor intensive job. I mean these online courses are from MIT, so it’s not like you’re going to some courses offered by a crappy for-profit school like the University of Phoenix or anything like that. I think MOOCs should be treated as a supplement to college, NOT a replacement for college in the long run, especially when it comes to the matter of having credentials, but I think in many cases, state schools are a worthy alternative.

    By the way, I’ve made the decision to join the Air Force this year and submitted my application a while ago. My father is perfectly fine with the idea and I will inform my mother later on. I really needed something to challenge me physically and mentally and hopefully I’ll learn some skills I need to secure a steady employment and then if I need any more credentials, I will certainly attend a regular college, especially if the Air Force pays for a substantial amount of the tuition fees.

      • Folks, what is this? I just turned away for a minute while I was hanging plates, and here we are trading insults. What’s up with that?

        Remember, we are all good people here. Bad people are doing bad things, not commenting peacefully on blogs.

      • When the government pays tuition fees for future American Jihadist like you, this is a good spending and this is not “entitlement”, even for the “socialist” Obama. But when government pays tuition fees for poor honest student, this a bad “entitlement” socilaist spending!

      • When the government pays tuition fees for future American Jihadists like you, this is a good spending and this is not “entitlement”, even for the “socialist” Obama. But when government pays tuition fees for poor honest student, this a bad “entitlement” socialist spending!

      • “When the government pays tuition fees for future American Jihadists like you, this is a good spending and this is not “entitlement”, even for the “socialist” Obama. But when government pays tuition fees for poor honest student, this a bad “entitlement” socialist spending!”

        - While I completely support education grants for deserving students, there is a logic fail in your statement. The US government pays tuition to soldiers in return for services rendered. This is very different from giving out grants in return for no services rendered.

      • I think David’s method of trying to paint me as some kind of neocon fearmongerer is highly obtuse and far from where I lie politically. Sorry dude. I know fully well I’m letting the government subsidize me, but it’s either that, or trying to waste time filling out a 100 applications and ending up with a crap job anyway in the corporate world or ending up with unnecessary student loan debt. In fact, I was even going to attend a state school this semester but like with the last semester, I ran into financial problems again.

      • And I specifically chose the air force because I took the time to do some research and it seems that a lot of the people who enlist end up doing work on domestic bases or in places like Germany and Japan. I don’t understand how that would be “jihadist.”

      • @american djihadist

        I just answered to your militaro-terrorist posturing, you fucktard.

        “I just turned away for a minute while I was hanging plates, and here we are trading insults. What’s up with that?”

        There’s no trading. I’m solely responsible for insults et he’s solely responsible for his djihadist posturing.

      • “And I specifically chose the air force because I took the time to do some research and it seems that a lot of the people who enlist end up doing work on domestic bases or in places like Germany and Japan. I don’t understand how that would be “jihadist.””

        I hope that you will do only that before your desertion, but sometimes it could occur that you would be ordered to be an ally of Al-Queda in Libya…

      • You come across as being very rude and dogmatic and not willing to have a constructive conversatio. I hadn’t called you anything except an anarcho-capitalist, which wasn’t meant to be an insult either. Are you sure you’re not trying to troll?

      • “I just answered to your militaro-terrorist posturing, you fucktard.”

        This is the same sort of bullshit those white nationalists who were following Aaron Clarey on YouTube did. The minute he admitted that he was a “technical Jew,” they went apeshit and started to attack him and wage the sorts of idiotic ad hominem attacks you’re waging against me without even knowing what my political views are. With Aaron, the fact that he admitted that his grandmother was Jewish had nothing to do with the kinds of stuff he was saying in his videos.

      • “The minute he admitted that he was a “technical Jew,” they went apeshit and started to attack him and wage the sorts of idiotic ad hominem attacks you’re waging against me”

        - This sounds horrible. What idiots.

      • “You come across as being very rude and dogmatic and not willing to have a constructive conversatio.”

        You’re right, there’s nothing constructive to have with a djhadist posturer.

        “I hadn’t called you anything except an anarcho-capitalist, which wasn’t meant to be an insult either.”

        I didn’t feel insulted by your comments.

        “Are you sure you’re not trying to troll?”

        Please support our troops, or else you’re a troll!

      • “went apeshit and started to attack him and wage the sorts of idiotic ad hominem attacks you’re waging against me without even knowing what my political views are.”

        This is just my reaction about your djihadist posturing at the second paragraph of your first comment.

        I don’t give a shit about your political views and I don’t give a shit about your liberal or your conservative stance, even liberals have no problem in general in their djihadist kill lists.

      • David, what’s happening? Why are you attacking Roberto for no reason? The kid is trying to get an education in a country where he doesn’t have as many options as you have in yours. Why not direct your energy into the horrible cuts to higher education in Quebec than into attacking brave kids who are trying to make their way in the world?

      • I still had no idea anyone would have made a huge deal of what I had said to Clarissa. I love your attempts at trying to insinuate me in some guilt by association fallacy. I suppose you can try that on people who have worked at Chick-fil-A. So and so has worked at Chick-fil-A, so automatically that means they are some hateful homophobe.

      • Had I known people like you were going to make a huge fuss out of a personal decision that I had researched and decided to make on my own and resort to childlish name calling in response to someone who holds different political views than you do, I would have just sent a private email to Clarissa instead.

      • I didn’t see your comment when I had made that last post, Clarissa, but you’re probably right. No harsh feelings to David if that’s the case.

      • “I suppose you can try that on people who have worked at Chick-fil-A. So and so has worked at Chick-fil-A, so automatically that means they are some hateful homophobe”

        Roberto, as shitty as they are, Chick-Fil-A doesn’t obligated his employees to be homophobes. The military could obligate you to kill somebody and I can’t support the troops for this reason.

        @Clarissa

        “The kid is trying to get an education in a country where he doesn’t have as many options as you have in yours.”

        At least, he has a better excuse in USA than here in Canada, and that explains why Canadian troops are even more dangerous than Americans. But personally, I wouldn’t even try to get an advanced education under these conditions, certainly not by joining a criminal organization who delivers almost no real public service (except the National Guard in USA) like the military. (contrary to State health, state social security and state education, which are real public services, even though state is the worst criminal organization). I would prefer to suffer more financially than sacrify my liberty by doing that.

        “Why not direct your energy into the horrible cuts to higher education in Quebec than into attacking brave kids who are trying to make their way in the world?”

        That’s a part of what I’m talking about. We have cuts in education because of alleged “austerity measures” and djihad military expenses are skyrocketing in Canada right now, because these measures are nothing else than “authority measures”. And many neo-nazi activists are members of the Canadian troops and they are the first to bully student activists when they protest about tuition hikes.

      • Alright. Thank you for taking the time to explain your position. I can see where you’re coming from. In fact, chiefjusticecoke made these three great videos about the armed forces that made some of the same points that you were trying to make. As I said, I probably wouldn’t have signed up if I was actually in school like I had planned from the very beginning and sometimes, I sometimes question whether I should have taken that government money that I had been opposed to being forced to get many months ago. This is about surviving and not being trapped with my parents until I’m 22 or 23 and this was honestly a difficult decision for me to consider.

      • “As I said, I probably wouldn’t have signed up if I was actually in school like I had planned from the very beginning and sometimes, I sometimes question whether I should have taken that government money that I had been opposed to being forced to get many months ago. This is about surviving and not being trapped with my parents until I’m 22 or 23 and this was honestly a difficult decision for me to consider.”

        Like I said, at least you have a better excuse to do that in USA than if you were in Canada. Maybe your situation with your parents explains a lot too…

      • And I specifically chose the air force because I took the time to do some research and it seems that a lot of the people who enlist end up doing work on domestic bases or in places like Germany and Japan. I don’t understand how that would be “jihadist.”

        Depends on what we mean by jihad, but yes, in the Air Force there are opportunities to serve stateside.

    • ” I really needed something to challenge me physically and mentally and hopefully I’ll learn some skills I need to secure a steady employment and then if I need any more credentials, I will certainly attend a regular college, especially if the Air Force pays for a substantial amount of the tuition fees.”

      - I wish you every success in this. Tell me how it goes with the application. I know you will make a success of this endeavor!

    • Yes, Unz himself is Jewish I believe. I’ve often heard that Ashkenazi Jews tend to do extremely well on IQ tests and possibly better than a lot of other ethnic groups, so I’m just wondering about that and how high intelligence could also be at work.

  4. I think it’s worth mentioning that there comes a point where MOOC’s are still at a slightly lower level than a higher-level undergrad class or textbook I might pick up to teach myself a concept.

      • That depends on the class or text and my own knowledge. I do a lot of extracurricular reading, so some of it is only slightly higher than something I’d find on an MOOC. But that’s mostly the reading I’d do towards the beginning of learning a subject–most of the books I read are upper-level undergraduate and graduate texts, so those are pretty far above the level of an MOOC. Class-wise, it depends on the content. One of the more challenging MOOC’s I’ve come across followed one of my classes pretty well, but it’s starting to separate in the math. MOOC’s in my field tend to be more concept-based and less math-based, while any classes I take for my major will have some serious math involved. So it might be a decent introduction or beginning supplement for some people, but it is in no way a substitute for an actual class or even a textbook.

  5. “While I completely support education grants for deserving students, there is a logic fail in your statement. The US government pays tuition to soldiers in return for services rendered. This is very different from giving out grants in return for no services rendered.”

    I have no problem with paying tuition fees to future american djihadists. I agree that they provide services for the United Terrorist States of America. I have problem with those pro-djihadiists who are pro “austerity measures” that are nothing else than “authority measures” against social programs that they call “entitlement programs”.

    And as a teacher, dear Clarissa, you provide way more services for Americans than those american djihadist fucktards. I support public service workers, but I don’t support the troops.

  6. I have completed a couple of moocs. And lurked in many more. I don’t think universities have anything to worry about – yet.

    I can only make comment on the quality of student who uses the course’s forum. Idiot springs to mind. The begging, pleading, constant complaining and cheating are just soul destroying. If this is how some behave in a free course, I dread to think how they would behave in a course they had to pay for.

    Then there are the “students” who already know the material. Some are there to observe or to revise. And some are there to demonstrate their own alleged superiority by trying to show up the Harvard prof (always great fun to read their posts).

    I think the concept is great. Provide access to quality education for the masses. But the reality is different. It is rather frightening to think that there are some institutions out there who say they will give academic credit for a mooc certificate.

    As a statistician with credentials from a real university, I can assure those getting their stats knowledge from a mooc that they know nothing about dealing with real statistics.

    • “I can only make comment on the quality of student who uses the course’s forum. Idiot springs to mind. The begging, pleading, constant complaining and cheating are just soul destroying.”
      :-) :-) :-)

      “As a statistician with credentials from a real university, I can assure those getting their stats knowledge from a mooc that they know nothing about dealing with real statistics.”

      - I love statisticians. What a great, intelligent, wonderful group of people. There are several already on my blog. And one in my home. :-)

  7. Pingback: Moocs, education from service to product and back. | About Education, Economics and Policy

  8. Pingback: MOOCs instead of open education | MOOC Madness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s