Thursday, December 19, 2013

PCAST report and recommendations on MOOCS

Last year, PCAST, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, turned their attention to smart radio technology and spectrum sharing and their work yielded an executive order on the sharing of federal spectrum.

Now they have issued a short report with recomendations on MOOCs.

The report states that they are interested in MOOCs because:

MOOCs offer something different from radio, video, and even Internet courses of the past. Improvements in bandwidth and software innovations have enabled enormous improvement in the speed and quality of communication among large numbers of students and between students and teachers.
They continue with a concise, documented survey of MOOC developments (in the US), and discussion of the possible benefits from MOOCs and the criticisms that have been leveled against them.

They conclude with three recommendations:
  • Let market forces decide which innovations in online teaching and learning are best.
  • Encourage accrediting bodies to be flexible in response to educational innovation.
  • Support research and the sharing of results on effective teaching and learning.
Their faith that the market will do the right thing got my attention -- is there no proactive role for the government in this? Would we have the Internet today if it were not for the government's role in developing the ARPANet and seeding connectivity with NSFNet?

I'd also be a bit worried that flexibility in accrediting might mean lower standards, but, in this case, I think market forces -- the job market -- will trump credit. College students will pay for training that leads to jobs.

Update 12/20/2013

PCAT has published a MOOC Hierarchy:


Update 12/20/2013

PCAT has published an infographic Harnessing Technology for Higher Education.

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