Friday, June 10, 2011

Markets in Everything: Gates Wikipedia University?

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, economist Richard Vedder writes:

"Why doesn’t someone—say, the Gates Foundation—hire 100 or so stellar professors in 20 disciplines to offer perhaps 150 to 200 absolutely superb courses online, with testing administered by an outside agency (say, the ACT, SAT, or Underwriter’s Laboratories)? Even paying each professor $100,000 per course and allowing for 100 percent overhead, this would cost $30- to $40-million. There would be some expenses for administration and a need to redo lectures every few years, but the whole thing is within the financial capacity of several foundations in the private sector. The upshot would be that a student taking about 32 of the courses would have the equivalent of a B.A. degree, and it could be offered to the student free (with modest per-student private or government subsidies) or at very modest cost.

The “Wikipedia” in the title to this blog suggests that perhaps the core of courses taught by superstars could be augmented by open-source courses provided by others with expertise. If we can offer very useful encyclopedias for free online, maybe we can do the same for other compilations and certifications of knowledge.

Universities spend billions annually researching everything under the sun—but precious little on R&D into their own business, specifically into cheap ways to disseminate higher forms of knowledge."

MP: In addition to the educational benefits of this proposal, it would also be a great antidote to the "administrative bloat" problem in U.S. colleges, which is one of the main reasons that tuition costs keep rising: to finance administrative overhead.   

Update: Buddy Pacifico mentions Academic Earth, which now offers 11 bachelor's degrees online, mostly from the University of Maryland, but also two from the London School of Economics (economics, and politics and international relations).  


At 6/10/2011 1:49 PM, Blogger Eric H said...

Because instead, the Gates Foundation is all into the Common Core State Standards, partnering with the federal government and teachers unions (and "conservative Republicans" like Bill Frist) to work within the status quo to extend federal control of the public school system. See Race To The Top (Trough). Follow the money on that.

At 6/10/2011 2:05 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Bill Gates Hearts Adademic Earth.

Professor Perry has previously written about and cited Academic Earth. What is Academic Earth about?

"Academic Earth is an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education."

At 6/10/2011 6:13 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

It seems, a good or "world-class" education isn't too comfortable.

At 6/10/2011 6:16 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

In addition to Academic Earth, Bill Gates recommends, on his blog, lectures from The Learning Company and MIT's OpenCourseWare.

At 6/10/2011 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you know who would be a stellar professor online? Teaching online is completely different than teaching in a classroom. I doubt the $100,000 salary would hold if the position was open to competition without tenure protection.

A lot of what is proposed already exists: online classes and grants (free classes). Is the purpose of a Gates Foundation type education to eliminate bricks-and-mortar universities?

"Universities spend billions annually researching everything under the sun—but precious little on R&D into their own business, specifically into cheap ways to disseminate higher forms of knowledge."

I don't think I have ever seen a business that collects more data into their own business than universities/colleges. Although that does not necessarily mean they turn the data into information to find cheap ways to educate students. Does the author have a source for that statement?

At 6/10/2011 6:36 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

The bachelor degrees that Professor Perry notes about Academic Earth includes an Econ degree. It is a three year degree, composed of 12 courses and costs $5000.00 from The London School of Economics!

At 6/10/2011 6:55 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Such a school could take a look at the online training systems already used by tech companies to certify people using their products such as online meeting systems and self-paced training.

They could even use such as a system for pre-lecture/lab/etc system for getting student up to speed on any background information, prerequisites, etc, to allow the in classroom time for more in-depth discussion.

At 6/10/2011 8:15 PM, Blogger Eric H said...

"Is the purpose of a Gates Foundation type education to eliminate bricks-and-mortar universities?"

Walt, I think you may be right. Bill Frist leaves the senate to start up SCORE, suddenly becoming interested in the education of TN's children. Coincidentally, TN is awarded federal round 1 money in Race to the Trough in exchange for making education "reforms". Bill Frist partnered with Will Pinkston (Democrat governor Phil Bredesen's former campaign manager and staff advisor) and has hired away state Senator Jamie Woodson to come over to his education "startup" of supporting education and all around good will and hugs and warm fuzzies (not sure who is paying all these folks to quit their jobs). As of the end of legislative session, the door is now wide open for virtual public charter schools.

Arne Duncan was scheduled to come down last week for an appearance with Gov. Haslam, Frist, Woodson, et al I guess to remind us that the Common Core State Standards were all the state governor's idea (not the federal government who issues them) but had to cancel. Must have had a SWAT raid to attend to.

At 6/11/2011 2:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, a university researching how to make education cheaper? What a laugh. :) Those morons wouldn't know how to use new tech if they wanted to, which they decidedly don't. If anything, they just want to sponge more money from taxpayers and clueless parents, while not teaching and "researching" useless crap. This is why they are about to be destroyed, just like the newspaper and music businesses before them.

At 6/12/2011 7:53 PM, Blogger Ian Random said...

But how would I scale the new rock climbing wall at the student union or learn drinking games online? :-) Actually, there maybe a bubble in the works according to Glenn Reynolds.

Just watch the NPTEL videos and buy foreign text books in English from Prints Asia. Maybe pay for proctoring like MCSE's and A+ certifications.


Prints Asia (Used to have incredible deals):

Education Bubble:


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