This begins a weekly[ish] piece presenting recent articles on college and higher education news and issues.
Just in time for the return of ridiculously expensive trips to Broad Street, U.S. PIRG has put out a study revealing the adverse effects of high text book costs on students’ (especially low-income students’) course decisions, and subsequently, their grades. There’s no other way to say it – this is a f****ed up system.
“We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”
That’s President Roth, with a new haircut and a description of his course on Coursera, The Modern and the Postmodern. “I love teaching it because it’s a course that brings us to the history of the present,” Roth exclaims. “The Modern and the Postmodern covers a lot of ground, but all the books cover that ground with a kind of verve and seriousness, a kind of panache and depth that is to me extraordinarily attractive.”
Last Wednesday, Coursera, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform, announced that it would be partnering with 16 new universities—including Wesleyan as the first liberal arts college to join in partnership. Coursera is part of a controversial new generation of education reform that potentially represents the first major update to the higher education industry in centuries. Through video, online texts, and increasingly interactive web applications, Coursera and other MOOCs seek to harness technology to create a global classroom where the best professors in the world can instruct tens or hundreds of thousands of students.
Joining what were originally only large, top tier academic institutions like Stanford, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan is a particularly interesting inductee as the first small liberal arts university. In a series of posts on his blog and on the Huffington Post, Michael Roth ’78 writes, “The idea that Wesleyan will be offering free, massive online classes will strike some as paradoxical. We are a small university at which almost three quarters of the courses are taught in an interactive, seminar style. How is that related to online learning?”