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But Where's the Football Team?

2013-05-31 22:14:17.784452+00 by petronius 6 comments

An interesting piece from Inside Higher Ed: Georgia Tech has run up a stealth deal with a startup called Udacity to offer an online masters degree program in computer science to 10,000 people at one time. The Faculty Senate has suddenly realized that they are being asked to rubber stamp the deal, and that control of the courses will rest with Udacity and the sysops instead of the ivied professors themselves. It also calls for a new underclass of customer service reps to take the place of the ever-oppressed TAs. The masters will cost around 6 grand, a real bargain. Of course, such a program will almost instantly double the number of Masters of Computer Science stalking the land looking for jobs, so even with the bargain price you may not be able to pay for it.

We have seen how digital communication has decimated the newspaper business, but is it time for colleges to face the music?

[ related topics: Invention and Design Software Engineering Current Events Journalism and Media Education ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2013-05-31 22:32:16.123527+00 by: meuon

My stepdaugher is at Georgia Tech in a Masters program, she still sees it as a good investment. But she's working on her MBA as she already has her BS in Comp Sci and some real world experience.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-05-31 23:09:25.086272+00 by: Dan Lyke

Interesting. To me, this kind of suggests that the CS Master's Degree is going to be the new Stack Exchange rating. I'm someone who's, obviously, rejected the academic setting as an effective space for learning, but I think there are two advantages to academia that are often pitched to me:

  1. The social aspects of putting a bunch of college students together in the same social space.
  2. The externality that is underpaid grad students doing research.

Seems like this misses a bunch of #1 and pares away #2.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-05-31 23:49:46.636378+00 by: Larry Burton

From what I've seen, most technical jobs do not require a high degree of education but they do require a high degree of training. Most people, including colleges, do not differentiate between training and education. I think this program could be a start of an acknowledgement of the difference.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-01 10:57:54.737873+00 by: andylyke [edit history]

I earned a bachelor's degree in engineering in a program of five years instead of the traditional four. The additional year was added to the engineering program to accommodate two full semesters of required electives outside of engineering. Having worked with engineers who took the traditional 4 year program, I greatly appreciate the education that I got over and beyond my engineering training.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-01 11:10:38.786161+00 by: meuon [edit history]

#1 reason to go to a place like Ga Tech would be the mix of people you would be commingling with. Ga tech comp-sci building in the evenings is a busy place, people working on things, lots of whiteboards being used in social spaces. Both college faculty and staff as well as people from industry are available for discussion. The ideas and connections created in that environment are what set it apart. In those early stages of adulthood, the people you are hanging with is as forming as what the books and exercises drill into your head.

Been interviewing people lately:

I interviewed a UTC Masters in Comp Sci student last week... who could not answer the question: "What's your favorite text editor", who claimed to be able to write C code, but did not know what compiler or environment they did it in. Given multiple guess leading questions the answers were: Eclipse (for at least the Java code) and no clue for the other languages they claimed skills with. She'd been trained. Could do what the books in front of her told her to do.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-03 00:01:36.300622+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, my experience with the transportation stuff two years ago showed me that a lot of urban planning and transportation PhDs (awarded from well regarded schools) have been well trained, but not educated. Much of my snark about college stems from seeing way too many graduates who can apply rote rules, but can't actually think.

I wonder how or if online training will change that.