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Williams Goes to HBS

Three years ago, Adam Falk assured us that all those fancy MOOCs (massive open on-line courses) had no future at Williams.

Technology has and will continue to improve how we teach. But what it cannot do is remove human beings from the equation. Coursera, one of the new purveyors of massive, open online courses, proposes to crowd-source the grading of essays, as if averaging letter grades assigned by five random peers were the educational equivalent of a highly trained professor providing thoughtful evaluation and detailed response. To pretend that this is so is to deny the most significant purposes of education, and to forfeit its true value.

But what about this news?

HBX, Harvard Business School’s online digital education initiative, has announced that it has entered into agreements to work with several U.S. liberal arts colleges to provide additional benefits for their students taking the Credential of Readiness (CORe) program.

CORe is an online program, consisting of approximately 150 hours of learning, for students and early career professionals to learn the fundamentals of business on a highly engaging and interactive platform designed by Harvard Business School faculty, according to Harvard Business School.

One of the schools listed in Williams. Anyone have any further details? Comments:

1) You can be sure that any grading here will not be done by Harvard professors. It will be a mix of computer and peer-graded work. Does Falk object?

2) I am probably being unfair to Falk because I suspect that this program is merely an additional option for Williams students, not a replacement for their current coursework. That is, any William student who participates in CORe will still need to take 32 Williams classes for credit.

3) If you don’t think that MOOCs are the future of education, you aren’t paying attention.

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#1 Comment By frank uible On June 2, 2015 @ 10:13 am

In my judgment, at residential colleges students learn more from daily rubbing shoulders with fellow students than they do in the classroom.

#2 Comment By Frederic Thys ’80 On June 2, 2015 @ 12:11 pm

Don’t MOOCs have a remarkably low completion rate?

#3 Comment By Derek On June 4, 2015 @ 2:17 am

Counterpoint: if you think MOOCs ARE the future of higher education, you have not been paying attention to the last five years of actual lived experience. The UT system’s experience is illustrative. Completion rates across the board are woeful, student satisfaction rates low, learning outcomes negligible. I think we will absolutely incorporate aspects of MOOCS in flipped classrooms and what have you, but if Williams will be heavily invested in taking students out of the classroom for some MOOCified pronto-business school I suspect many of us will wave goodbye to our close ties to the school.


#4 Comment By esoskin On June 4, 2015 @ 9:28 am

To Derek’s point, the distinguishing opportunity Williams has in a world where MOOCs thrive (assuming this occurs) would seem to be its ability to leverage them in a flipped classroom environment. In contrast to a university setting, we’ll have actual faculty — who are overwhelmingly interested in students and are talented teachers — in those classrooms.

Further, echoing David’s long drumbeat of “tutorials for all,” access to MOOCs that are beyond the usual Williams curriculum offers an opportunity for new tutorials in which faculty could leverage the MOOC offering. Indeed, I could imagine faculty members interested in exploring subjects beyond their traditional zone of expertise via a MOOC, and doing so in a side-by-side, tutorial learning setting with Williams students.

#5 Comment By Derek On June 5, 2015 @ 4:37 am

Ephblog, when it’s convenient: no more lectures at Williams!
Ephblog at other times: omg, lectures on a computer screen! Totes kool!

Eric: yes, that world where moocs thrive. Wow! Look over there! A unicorn!

Enjoy undermining college education you guys.


#6 Comment By Aidan On June 5, 2015 @ 10:01 am

Respectfully disagree with Derek here.

I see this move by HBS as disrupting the “post-Bac B-school summer” boondoggle that Tuck (e.g.) runs (http://bridge.tuck.dartmouth.edu/).

#7 Comment By dcat On June 5, 2015 @ 2:40 pm

Aidan — You may be right on that front. I cannot speak to that. But its interesting to see how MOOCs seem to have largely crested, for mostly familiar reasons.