As the rates for graduate education increase and students are demanding for cheaper alternatives, some universities and colleges are experimenting with “stackable degrees.” The idea behind it is allowing students to start with a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), followed by a few more MOOCs to get an online certificate, followed by more courses to get a traditional master’s degree.
The University of Illinois announced this type of degree recently. Starting in the Fall, students can enroll in an online master’s program in data science (which is closely collaborated with Coursera). The cost of the full master’s program is astronomically less than the price of an on-campus master’s program, costing only $19,200.
Because of the demand for students to get in STEM degrees and a university’s very little space, they will try to create these programs in order to accommodate more students, while saving them money.
The University of Illinois is not the only university that is experimenting. Massachusetts Institute of Technology also announced a similar program called “micro-master’s degree.”
This style of degree will help students also test out whether or not they want to go with just getting a certificate or go for the full master’s degree. This will align much better with their career goals.
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Khan Academy is one of the biggest education based websites that strive to help students in specific subjects. Khan Academy is an online learning provider that supplies useful videos for each subject for free. Specifically, the website is known for its STEM courses that can help a student get a better understanding of a specific topic within those classes.
Salman Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, and started out the website by creating iconic recorded videos in his walk-in closet for a nonprofit organization with more than twenty million registered students. The videos are only a small part of his mission to remake education.
In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sal Khan was introduced as a man that first had a career as a financial analyst at a hedge fund. He made his first videos to help his cousins with their math homework. After creating more videos, he was noticed by Bill Gates, who became a backer. After creating hundreds of videos, people believed that they weren’t professional enough, however Sal has other ideas. He believes the informal attribute allows the audience to really understand what he’s doing. The main idea of his creation is to make sure that every student truly understands the material, not just memorize the formulas.
Currently Sal Khan has created a program for students from Kindergarten through eighth grade called, Khan Lab School. He even sends one of his own kids there. He has higher hopes then just this small school however. He said if he was every given the opportunity to create a college, he would want to focus on high-need areas in the world. Specifically he doesn’t want to just traditionally have a lecture based courses, but instead sending students out to research locally, specifically possibly a university or a company.
Khan believes in introducing a different form of learning and building a student’s portfolio to make them more appealing to companies. However, he doesn’t believe this idea will be readily accepted in the community due to the old traditions of learning.
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Teachers are now receiving more support to prepare them for an actual classroom. The University of Central Florida gives educators-in-training the option of practicing their teaching skills in a virtual classroom.
The program is called TeachLive, the first of its kind. The course challenges educators to navigate social, pedagogical and professional hurdles all at once. Educators are challenged to manage the classroom when the avatars misbehave, act in strange patterns, or ask difficult questions. Each avatar comes with their own personality. One avatar will interrupt class with their opinions on the lesson or teach, another avatar is the class chatterbox. Educators will also work with an avatar that is particularly anxious and may curl up on the floor of the classroom. With each session, the program allows users to change classroom events and avatar characteristics. Educators can practice responding to a targeted behavior or even to student disabilities.
The program can also be set to specific teacher needs. TeachLive uses Skype conference call and a Microsoft Kinect motion sensor power. TeachLive is being used at more than 80 campuses across the U.S to train some of the next generation of educators. The team at TeachLive is exploring in which technology can be used to help people.
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