This week’s digest is a little lean on the number of articles but is still full of interesting musings and information on how online education is continuing to change the landscape of higher education. For one: a MOOC is attempting a revolutionary peer-grading system. As expected, there were some interesting results – and a number of kinks that need to be worked out – but, regardless, an exciting development for those that are hoping to provide graded online, humanities courses. In another article, Kevin Carey explored how MOOCs can begin to integrate with traditional institutions to provide alternative (and less expensive) means to higher education credits. And last, but certainly not least, late last week, my favorite state passed a set of bills that allow for a free and open library of digital textbooks for 50 core undergrad courses. Woo!

Have an excellent week, all!

Weekly Digest – September 4th

Learning From One Another
For sciences and mathematics, testing within a MOOC or other online environment is a relatively straightforward multiple choice exam? But, when MOOCs are offered in humanities, how can the professors assess student learning? To answer this question, Coursera is venturing into peer-graded essays and assignments. Check out this article to know how the first round of peer-grading system fared.

Survey of California Community Colleges Reveals Drastic Effects of Budget Cuts
You may have heard whispers of how poorly the California state higher educational system is faring, but did you know that nearly 20% of the students in the Golden State’s Community Colleges system were put on class waiting lists for the fall while 87% of the colleges have reduced their faculty? Even more shocking statistics were found in a survey released by the school system’s chancellor, Jack Scott – the Chronicle of Higher Ed sums up the finding of the survey in this post.

Cheating Scandal at Harvard
I thought this news blip was timely in light of the recent accusations of cheating and plagiarism in MOOCs: last week, a ring of 125 Harvard University students were busted for cheating. Seems that cheating can surface no matter where learning takes place, no?

Into the Future with MOOCs
In a traditional brick-and-mortar institution, a student can sit in a large lecture hall for 14 weeks, take a final exam, and, upon receiving a passing grade, receive credits towards a degree. In a not-so-traditional online environment, say, a MOOC, a student can go through the same motions, receive the same materials, and, ultimately, the same experience – yet walk away with a non-recognized certificate. What gives? Kevin Carey explores how the future of education is evolving thanks to MOOCs – and he even recognizes a certain Foundation that has begun creating pathways to low-cost college credit using freely available online courses.

Open-source textbook bills head to Gov. Jerry Brown
Over the past 9 months, we’ve been following the status of California Senate Bills 1052 and 1053 on our blog. In short, these bills allow for the introduction of digital textbooks into the California State higher education system, with a proposal to give students free access to texts for 50 core undergraduate classes in California’s three-tier public higher education system. Early Saturday morning, I was excited to read that these bills had passed the needed Senate vote late last Friday and are now awaiting the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown. Way to go, California!