BA 1 Yr, Online, Free?
Note the important weasel words: "equivalent" of a BA, not an actual BA.  That's Harvard for you.  The author may be related to Howdy. 

I hereby award myself the equivalent of a PhD because I took a MOOC once and I think that's pretty much the same thing.  Please write a story about how I did it the new way.

Quote:Earning a bachelor’s degree the new way
Year of online learning covered in Ed Portal talk
March 13, 2015 | Editor's Pick Popular
By Jennifer Doody, Harvard Correspondent

  • [Image: 030315_Ed_Portal_2126_605_2.jpg]
Jonathan Haber earned his bachelor’s degree, in chemistry, from Wesleyan University in 1985. Nearly three decades later, he decided to earn another bachelor’s, this one in philosophy.

He also resolved to complete his studies in just one year, entirely online, for free.

Haber documented those 12 months on the website Degree of Freedom, detailing his experience completing the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree using Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, and other forms of free learning. As the inaugural HarvardX Visiting Fellow, Haber recently spoke at the Harvard Ed Portal about what he had learned during his year of intense online study. Appropriately, in addition to nearly three-dozen Ed Portal visitors, more than 80 people watched the talk online.

“MOOCS are an experiment in teaching and learning, of what might happen if Harvard, MIT, and other universities all put their best courses online for the whole world, for free,” Haber said. “There’s an experimental nature to MOOCs and to the MOOC culture. It’s a culture where classics professors are sitting down with video producers and computer programmers to turn out really quite remarkable courses.”

One of the things he experienced was “a bit of academic culture shock,” Haber said. “You’ve got courses that might once have been considered proprietary by a university, now considered a public good to be shared.” Another discovery was the rise of “rock-star professors — professors who love to teach, and who are becoming famous and well-known for teaching thousands of people.”

Haber drew courses from an assortment of online learning sources. In his online postings, he showed work completed through sites such as edX, coursera, and Udacity.

From January to June, his “freshman and sophomore” months, Haber took courses such as “Think Again: How to Reason and Argue.” From July through December, he advanced to “junior and senior” courses, such as “Mathematical Philosophy” and studying Kierkegaard. For his senior thesis, Haber wrote a book titled “MOOCS: The Essential Guide,” published by MIT Press last year.

While Haber conceded that MOOCs have their problems — including overcrowded discussion forums and questionable value in the marketplace — he rejected the idea of online learning as “recreational education.” To make his point, Haber asked his audience how they would feel if he suddenly gave them an exam from their college days, prompting a swell of nervous laughter.

“I always see head-shaking panic when I ask that,” he said, “But does that mean you didn’t get anything out of college? Does that mean you didn’t learn anything? Of course not. So should college be judged as a set of courses … or is college what you become at the end of the experience?”

In introducing Haber, the first HarvardX for Allston speaker for the semester, Robert Lue, faculty director of HarvardX and the Ed Portal, and professor of the practice of molecular and cellular biology, posed some challenging questions to the audience.

“What can we actually do with all the information that’s available online nowadays? Can it make a difference?” he asked.

Lue said Haber “came to national prominence” when he began the Degree of Freedom project, and has continued exploring “questions of meaningful assessment of online abundance” during his HarvardX Visiting Fellowship.

Responding to Haber’s remarks, audience member Joyce Antler said she was struck by the many opportunities and challenges MOOCs pose to students and universities.

“This was a sophisticated and interesting talk,” she said. “It’s impressive to realize how many people have participated in online learning. This was a terrific event, and I hope there are many more of them.”
'The guy does go on (and on and on) about the amount of work he did, and presents hundreds of pages of examples. He may well have learned a lot. Good for him. But would any of the 15,000-or-so recognized universities out there hand him a BA for that? I think not since, among other reasons, he did not demonstrate his  knowledge by taking a single exam. The MOOC is an interesting phenomenon. I wouldn\'t bet on its survival (but I believe I wrote that about ARPANET in 1974, as well). More than a few schools that have tried MOOCS have given up, including a major test at San Jose State University. Here's the NY Times article on what they called this "flop": But MOOCS do offer an opportunity for people who want to learn, and don't need a degree, to get a lot of free information . . . just like, dare I say, the public library.'
(03-24-2015, 04:57 AM)JohnBear Wrote: ...The MOOC is an interesting phenomenon. I wouldn't bet on its survival....

Up until today I would have agreed with that.  MOOCs seemed sort of like Betamax or steam cars, kind of neat ideas that for whatever reason never really caught on.  But today I received a solicitation from Yorktown University that at least made me reconsider that stance. 

Yorktown, as some may recall, is/was an online university briefly accredited by DETC, offering courses from a conservative or free-market point of view.  Perhaps we are finally seeing what MOOCs are actually good for.

Solicitation of Accredited Investors: Yorktown University's MOOC Initiative
I have extensive experience with MOOCs as I am using them as a tool to help educate someone on subjects they were never taught in High School. For this application they are helpful. However, the studies I have read show that the majority of people taking MOOcs either already have a degree or at least attended college so they are not doing what they were set out to do, which was "educate the world". Instead they have become a free resource for life-time learners.

This is why Udacity abandoned their attempt to teach idiots math (I mean poor underprivileged members of society) and instead focused on applied technical training with their Nanodegree certifications. Coursera is offering their equivalent Specialization certificates and EdX their XSeries certificates. Now these certs are new but they have the advantage of having a major university name tied to them so I could see them being helpful on a resume.

Since these certs also cost money you get back to the question - why not just get college credit? That was my entire argument against taking MOOCs (especially the free ones) to begin with since you get to have all that "fun" of doing college level work with nothing to show for it. At least if you pay for a real course you get college credits you can apply towards a degree. Long term I see their certification programs being the equivalent of an undergraduate certificate or one semester of college.

The one caveat is - I do not think it would hurt to list that you took MOOC courses from schools like Harvard, Princeton and Yale on your resume.

MOOC courses only work on subjects that do not require writing papers since those are done through a "peer-review" system - effectively some other idiot taking the class is going to grade and review your paper. There is no way around this problem without a pay system since it is impossible for a professor and his TAs to grade papers from 100,000 students taking their free MOOC.

MOOC courses were also initially rolled out in the standard 12-week college format, which defeated the purpose of any improvement on completion time efficiency. They are slowly moving and offering more self-paced courses and shorter condensed courses averaging 4-8 weeks.

With all this being said MOOC courses are going to need the equivalent of an organization like ACE approving them for college credit (something ACE is working on) and then proctored exams to make them official (the cert programs currently require proctored exams). Without this it makes anyone claiming any sort of degree equivalent for taking MOOC courses laughably naive.

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