EdX is back in the news, so my outdated posting about their initial announcement still seems relevant which always makes me happy. This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education website discusses how EdX will generate revenue for itself and the University–sort of. It sounds more like a Field of Dreams plan: “If we build it, they will come. And then we will figure out how to make money.” That is, the EdX documents show how revenue could possibly be divided between universities and EdX according to two different “partnership models” (pricing structures), but doesn’t quite get at from where that pool of revenue will come. The Chronicle does a great job of keeping that question “But How?” relevant.
I’m still waiting to see details on how these course will differ from other online courses. The article also mentions a pilot edX MOOC, “Circuits & Electronics” course, offered last Fall at San Jose State University, where “…60 percent of students passed the San Jose State course; 91 percent passed the edX-infused version.” While that sounds really encouraging, we don’t know what the basis of the comparison is–that is, did the San Jose State course and edX one have the exact same assignments and tests? And if so, were they graded by the same people? I’m guessing that the edX course used online tests. How did they account for ensuring that the people who took the exam were the same people enrolled in the course? Although the article says, “EdX has a deal with Pearson VUE…to hold proctored examinations for its MOOCs,” it’s not clear from the article whether such proctoring services were used in this pilot course.
Don’t get me wrong. I am THRILLED by the possibilities that online courses hold. But I’m tired of all the hand waving and buzz words by different companies and universities. Even in my own university, there is a tendency to use Corporate-Speak when discussing distance learning. I’m guessing that besides the frontierness of such endeavors, the differing colleges must be mindful of the political climate where in budgets are debated in terms of bite-sized election ads, where for the political public, perception is more the focus than reality of circumstances.