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Heard: Big League Names At Davos WEF Discuss Future Of Online Learning

Impression - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011World Economic Forum via Compfight

Eric Hellweg writes in Harvard Business Review (and published on BusinessWeek.com) about the all-star panel on MOOCs at the Davos World Economic Forum meeeting in Switzerland. Here are some choice quotes Hellweg transcribed from the event:

Where we are in the evolution of this change:

Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft
“When people first put courses online people thought they could charge money and no one bought them. They put them online but from a global perspective, all these high numbers of students we’re hearing about today, the effective number of people who use them is zero. It’s not widely used as a percentage of the global population. Our whole notion of ‘credential’, which means you went somewhere for a number of hours, needs to move to where you can prove you have the knowledge and the quality of these online courses need to improve. Over the next few years the quality will improve. 90% of these courses will be long forgotten and never viewed. Over the next five years this transformation will be phenomenal but only through a pretty brutal winnowing out process.”

On what an online education world means for hiring and talent for educators:

Rafael Reif, President of MIT
[On the question of how to hire professors in the MOOC era] “Can you hire MIT professors who know that they need to teach 150,000 people and not 150? We have spectacular researchers who are lousy teachers. That’s sad. A teacher in the future will become more like a mentor. The model of on campus education will be more about mentorship and guidance with research as an important factor.”

We can’t presume to know what format will work in the future:

Larry Summers, former president of Harvard
“It’s important to remember that we’re not so good at understanding the subtleties of environments that make them attractive to people. Look at football for example. One way to watch a game is to sit on a cold bench with no good food and bad bathrooms, the other is in your own living room, with replay, and food you like at your convenience. And then ask yourself- which would you guess people pay for? Which do people cheer for? You’d get it wrong. There are aspects of bringing people together in groups that we can’t quite understand and judge. The working out of this will depend a lot on formulas for making it attractive and collaborative. And as football example suggests, it won’t be immediately obvious what those models are.”

What’s next in this space?

Sebastian Thrun, CEO of uDacity
“I think the question is how do you make the credential have currency that an employer knows? We’ve had good success. We have 350 companies who have hired our students. Employers worry about soft skills and we can measure that and it’s on equal performance with hard skills. The credential thing is interesting- we launched a class for credit with California schools for remedial math. We priced them at 10-15 percent of what college costs. There are lots of improvements to be made, but the outcome tends to be better today with us.”

Via BusinessWeek

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