From the Chronicle of Philanthropy: OK, maybe backlash is too strong a word. But some distance-learning leaders are starting to raise questions and concerns about President Obama’s new online-education proposal, a great course giveaway that would pump $500 million into freely available Web-based courses. Are new courses needed? Would students get help working through them? Would their privacy be protected as they use the material?
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A wonderful emeritus MIT professor, Woodie Flowers, has a different concern about the $500 million plan. Woodie is a co-founder of FIRST. We had coffee the other day. I think the Obama folks should talk to him. He mused:
“Many parts of the proposed program are very close to what I have been dreaming and preaching about for years! However, I have serious reservations about the ‘open’ model. A SUSTAINABLE model is far more important than ‘open.’
If we spend $500 million on even as many as 500 courses, I believe we will have missed a chance to do it right. $1 million per course is far too LITTLE. Spreading that money over hundreds of faculty members in many institutions seem like tackling the electric automobile battery problem by giving Gilbert Chemistry Sets to thousands of high school freshmen.
I do not think that “supporting courses” is the most appropriate guiding principle. I believe the more general and more important idea is that we need to develop the system that replaces textbooks. Such a system could be used to support courses, but could also be used to REPLACE courses.”
~ Guestblogger Mike Goldstein