MOOCs: Classrooms of the Future

MOOCsMassive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a form of online education, have emerged as an innovative method of teaching at an unprecedented pace. Founded in fall of 2011, Coursera, a leading MOOC, has reached enrollment of 3.1 million students worldwide as of April 2013. Coursera recently divulged plans to continue its rapid growth by partnering with 10 public universities and university flagships in the United States. Other online education companies have also been expanding. For example, in May, Georgia Tech announced its plans to partner with Udacity, another MOOC provider, to offer the first online master’s degree in computer science. Coursera’s cofounder, Andrew Ng explains that Coursera’s growth is part of a larger global movement towards online education. He recently stated, “Colleges are experimenting with different models state-by-state, but one thing is clear — the world is moving toward blended learning.” It is evident that online education is particularly beneficial to students in areas of the world who lack other education options, such as Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Coursera has demonstrated a global strategic push by translating many of its courses into eight foreign languages, which will be available to students in September 2013.

However, despite their advantages, MOOCs as alternative forms of education have been subject to criticism. Opponents argue that the lecture format of teaching employed by MOOCs inhibits possibilities for one-on-one communication between instructors and students. Course enrollment sizes (up to 50,000 students can be enrolled in a single course simultaneously) also limit constructive interactions between students and their instructors, as well as among the students themselves. In addition, although online courses experience incredibly high enrollment rates, completion numbers pale in comparison. Only about 10% of students initially enrolled in MOOCs actually end up finishing them. As a result, MOOC providers continue to investigate ways in which these deficient rates can be remedied. Fortunately, online courses also provide novel opportunities to evaluate teaching methods. Ng states, “We see every mouse click and keystroke. We know if a user clicks one answer and then selects another, or fast-forwards through part of a video.”

Reform of the U.S. education system is both imperative and inevitable. Overdue student loans are at an all-time high and only about half of recent college graduates are working in jobs in which their degrees are necessary. As MOOCs become more widespread and continue to develop, perhaps online courses can contribute to resolving these issues.

Posted by: Marjorie Baker

Sources: Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Venturebeat, New York Times, MIT Technology Review, Huffington Post, Forbes, Brookings

Photo credit: Library2010_028 courtesy of flickr user UTC Library

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You are invited: The Trans-Pacific Partnership: New Rules for a New Era

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The Program on America and the Global Economy, the Asia Program, the Canada Institute, the Kissinger Institute, the Latin American Program and the Mexico Institute with the support of Wilson Center Senior Scholar William Krist Present:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: New Rules for a New Era 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2:00 – 5:00 pm

Flom Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson Center


WELCOME and KEYNOTE:

2:00 pm – 2:40 pm

Robert Zoellick, Harvard Belfer Center and  Peterson Institute for International Economics; former president of the World Bank, former United States Deputy Secretary of State and former U.S. Trade Representative

PANEL 1: How the TPP fits into other regional trade agreements.

2:50 pm – 3:50 pm

NAFTA, FTA between Canada and the EU:

  Ari Van Assche, Professor, International Business, HEC Montreal

TTIP:            Michael Geary, Fellow, Wilson Center and Assistant Professor, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

ASEAN:        Roberto Herrera-Lim, Director, Eurasia Group

PANEL 2: Current countries involved in the TPP and what it will take for a successful negotiation.

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Australia: Joshua Meltzer, Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution

Vietnam:  Ambassador Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Ambassador of Vietnam to the United States

Chile:       Marcos Robledo, Professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy, Universidad Diego Portales

Moderator:  Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy, Wilson Center


 

Please RSVP (acceptances only) to page@wilsoncenter.org

The Wilson Center is located in the Ronald Reagan Building at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. (Federal Triangle Metro stop on the Blue/ Orange Line) For a map and directions see: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/directions.  Please bring a photo ID and arrive 15 minutes ahead to allow time for the security checkpoint. 

Media guests, including TV crews, are welcome and should RSVP directly to elizabeth.white@wilsoncenter.org

A Manufacturing Renaissance?

manufacturing2On May 29th, 2013, Motorola announced the opening of a manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas to produce its new product, the Moto X. Motorola estimates that the plant will generate roughly 2,000 American jobs. Texas Governor Rick Perry supports Motorola’s initiative, stating, “Motorola Mobility’s decision to manufacture its new smartphone and create thousands of new jobs in Texas is great news for our growing state.”

Motorola’s decision is especially significant in the modern age of dominant overseas outsourcing. Moto X will be the first smartphone manufactured entirely in the United States. Will Moss, a spokesman for Motorola Mobility, explains that producing the Moto X in the United States will engender “much leaner, more efficient operations” by moving Motorola’s manufacturing operations “much closer to our key customers and partners as well as our end users.” Other technology firms have been following this same trend. For example, in December, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced plans to move the manufacturing of an existing line of Mac computers to the United States within the coming year.

Although some experts believe that these companies’ efforts are primarily politically motivated, other reasoning may exist to explain recent attempts to bring manufacturing opportunities back to the United States. A recent Gallup poll determined that 64% of Americans are willing to pay more for a product produced in the U.S. as opposed to overseas. Additionally, wage increases have led to rising production costs for companies located in East Asia. Economist Dan North predicts that the difference in labor costs between China and the United States could decrease to only $7 per hour by 2015 (as opposed to the $17 difference reported in 2006), as the Chinese economy strengthens and Chinese workers push for higher salaries.

It is still unclear if the “Manufacturing Renaissance” will generate enduring consequences for the U.S. economy—an increase in U.S. industrial production has yet to occur. According to the Federal Reserve, industrial production fell by 0.5 percent in April. Furthermore, although the total number of manufacturing jobs in the United States has increased by 520,000 since January 2010, only 50,000 of those jobs are due to re-shoring. It is therefore disputable as to whether efforts to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. will contribute to profound and lasting benefits for the U.S. economy, or if companies’ current efforts in this capacity will merely amount to a short-lived phase.

Posted by: Marjorie Baker

Sources: The Washington Post, CBS News, Businessweek, the Federal Reserve, Gallup, Huffington Post

Photo Credit: Big Industry of America courtesy of flickr user Canon in 2D