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Thread: College Degree, No Class Time Required

  1. #1
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    College Degree, No Class Time Required

    College Degree, No Class Time Required - WSJ.com


    David Lando plans to start working toward a diploma from the University of Wisconsin this fall, but he doesn't intend to set foot on campus or even take a single online course offered by the school's well-regarded faculty.

    Instead, he will sit through hours of testing at his home computer in Milwaukee under a new program that promises to award a bachelor's degree based on knowledge—not just class time or credits.

    "I have all kinds of credits all over God's green earth, but I'm using this to finish it all off," said the 41-year-old computer consultant, who has an associate degree in information technology but never finished his bachelor's in psychology.
    Under the Flexible Option, assessment tests and related online courses are being written by faculty who normally teach the related subject-area classes, Mr. Reilly said.

    Officials plan to launch the full program this fall, with bachelor's degrees in subjects including information technology and diagnostic imaging, plus master's and bachelor's degrees for registered nurses. Faculty are working on writing those tests now.

    The charges for the tests and related online courses haven't been set. But university officials said the Flexible Option should be "significantly less expensive" than full-time resident tuition, which averages about $6,900 a year at Wisconsin's four-year campuses.
    First of all, I certainly HOPE it would be significantly less expensive considering the fact they are not taking classes.

    Second, I think this is a good idea, though I think they need to go a step further and say that traditional students will also have to take the same test because trust me, the fact somebody has a degree in a subject does NOT mean they actually know anything about it. A final test before graduation that shows that you did not drink away half your classes and actually retain some knowledge of you major would be a good thing for all.
    If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. —Samuel Adams

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    The latest trend in Higher Ed has been MOOC (massive open online courses). It is not going to revolutionize universities like everyone thinks it will.

    Back in the mid-90s people thought online courses at Universities would revolutionize colleges. Today close to 7 million students are taking at least one online course. Sounds like a lot until you realize that represents 33% of students and in terms of total classes something like 5%. No top university offers a true degree 100% online and there is good reason why. If is easy enough to offer Roman history online and in a massive setting. There are thinking skills required, there are no essays that need to be written, and you can do multiple choice tests. Now, try teaching some engineering course online or advanced math. Without a teacher there to guide you the person will fail.

    MOOC is nothing more than mental masturbation. Professors like it because they can basically blab on and have hundreds of people listen to them (something they love). Universities can say they are doing a public good and using technology to educate people. The reality, though, is that no major university would offer a MOOC degree. To do so would make their faculty to student ratio way too high thus lowering ratings AND would hurt the very ways universities get money....by kids being on campus getting brainwashed into donating in the future. Ratings would be the fact that the drop out rate for MOOC is 50% and the selectivity of the school could not be established.

    Finally, the courses you can offer on MOOC are worthless to educating the public. In a perfect world, we'd just stop offering them in college and only offer them online in the event someone was interested thus freeing up space in schools for real learning. This has no chance of happening. In the mean time, I'm hoping MOOC will be pushed more for remedial classes so community colleges are always stuck teaching high school because the high schools completely suck.

    Don't buy into the bull of MOOC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steeeeve View Post
    The latest trend in Higher Ed has been MOOC (massive open online courses). It is not going to revolutionize universities like everyone thinks it will.

    Back in the mid-90s people thought online courses at Universities would revolutionize colleges. Today close to 7 million students are taking at least one online course. Sounds like a lot until you realize that represents 33% of students and in terms of total classes something like 5%. No top university offers a true degree 100% online and there is good reason why. If is easy enough to offer Roman history online and in a massive setting. There are thinking skills required, there are no essays that need to be written, and you can do multiple choice tests. Now, try teaching some engineering course online or advanced math. Without a teacher there to guide you the person will fail.

    MOOC is nothing more than mental masturbation. Professors like it because they can basically blab on and have hundreds of people listen to them (something they love). Universities can say they are doing a public good and using technology to educate people. The reality, though, is that no major university would offer a MOOC degree. To do so would make their faculty to student ratio way too high thus lowering ratings AND would hurt the very ways universities get money....by kids being on campus getting brainwashed into donating in the future. Ratings would be the fact that the drop out rate for MOOC is 50% and the selectivity of the school could not be established.

    Finally, the courses you can offer on MOOC are worthless to educating the public. In a perfect world, we'd just stop offering them in college and only offer them online in the event someone was interested thus freeing up space in schools for real learning. This has no chance of happening. In the mean time, I'm hoping MOOC will be pushed more for remedial classes so community colleges are always stuck teaching high school because the high schools completely suck.

    Don't buy into the bull of MOOC.
    I am going to disagree with this to an extent because what they are talking about here...testing for a degree without actually having to take the classes...is pretty much how I got through college. When I was in college it was extremely rare to have a professor that took attendance in a lecture class and in most classes the final made up anywhere from 90-95% of the grade. Most of those classes I did not attend...or attended very sporadically. I had the syllabus, the textbook, and the handouts. Why sit through class? I did this with at least 60% of my college classes and never got below a B in any class.

    Classes with a lab component were a little different because usually you actually had to be there to do the lab to get the credit (though I never showed up for dry labs...I just did the work and turned it in).

    Things have changed quite a bit since I was in school, though. Now the state requires that the professors take attendance (though many still don't) and there is a limit to how much of your grade the final can constitute (I don't recall if it is 15% or 20%). Basically they have turned it into a continuation of high school.

    The old way was better. I say that without reservation. The point of taking a college course is that when you are done, you should have the knowledge that the course is supposed to pass on. Whether you got the answers right on a worksheet in the second week of the course is completely and utterly meaningless if at the end you have not acquired and retained the knowledge the course was meant to convey. They do things they way they do in high school because they are trying to force the kid to participate and make sure he is learning. They should not have to force college age kids to participate nor should they be checking in regularly via worksheet and quizzes to see if they are doing their work. These are grown ups and they should be treated as such.

    I know several college professors that claim this is one of the biggest reasons that our colleges are graduating students who don't actually know anything. When your final is 95% of your grade, you HAVE TO actually have learned and retained the information from the course. When it is only 20% of your grade and quizzes and assignments make up the rest, you don't actually have to retain a damn thing you just have to be good at taking quizzes and doing homework assignments. I have been told it is not at all uncommon for a college student to completely bomb the class, showing that they ultimately did not retain anything they learned, but still pass the class with a B or C because they were good at doing homework and cramming for quizzes and smaller tests.

    What the University of Wisconsin is basically doing it taking CLEP tests 1 step further.

    I really don't see a down side to it from a practical point. If the point of college is to master certain material, and you can show that you have mastered that material, why make you sit through classes?

    Now, I don't expect to see traditional universities jumping up and down to support this because it is not a moneymaker for them, but I do think they are going to have to evolve because the world is going to move on without them otherwise. Look at IT. An IT degree is completely worthless unless you have certifications to go with it, and if you have the certifications, nobody really cares about the degree. I have a little brother who just finished college and a lot of his friend who got IT degrees were SHOCKED that nobody actually cared about their degree. Without the certifications, they could not find work. Why? Because a college degree shows that...well...you went to college. A CISSP certification means you actually KNOW something.

    Obviously there is always going to be some things you have to actually show up and sit in a classroom (or more likely a lab) for. The other 90% of your college education, though.....
    If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. —Samuel Adams

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    Quote Originally Posted by daewoo View Post
    I am going to disagree with this to an extent because what they are talking about here...testing for a degree without actually having to take the classes...is pretty much how I got through college. When I was in college it was extremely rare to have a professor that took attendance in a lecture class and in most classes the final made up anywhere from 90-95% of the grade. Most of those classes I did not attend...or attended very sporadically. I had the syllabus, the textbook, and the handouts. Why sit through class? I did this with at least 60% of my college classes and never got below a B in any class.
    I'm not saying this isn't a good idea for some majors, I'm saying it's not gonna happen on a large scale basis. You don't have XXXXXX running these places. If your job is to run a university are you going to find ways to make your university irrelevant? I don't think so. You can get away with this for certain programs at certain universities but not respectable school is going to tell their business school professors to take a hike as they are being replaced by a test. By doing that you kill how your biggest donations come in (business schools are considered the "cash cows" at most universities with them) and you destroy yourself in college rankings. So unless you are University of Phoenix, this model just won't work. The changes you will see are for certain programs like nighttime MBA programs or something like that. These types of programs aren't considered for ratings.

    I know several college professors that claim this is one of the biggest reasons that our colleges are graduating students who don't actually know anything. When your final is 95% of your grade, you HAVE TO actually have learned and retained the information from the course. When it is only 20% of your grade and quizzes and assignments make up the rest, you don't actually have to retain a damn thing you just have to be good at taking quizzes and doing homework assignments. I have been told it is not at all uncommon for a college student to completely bomb the class, showing that they ultimately did not retain anything they learned, but still pass the class with a B or C because they were good at doing homework and cramming for quizzes and smaller tests.
    The reason they aren't graduating students who learned anything is because they aren't teaching. I'm talking to professors almost daily and I've never heard one say the reason is that we don't have a hard enough final exam. If this were the case than we should just let people take the CPA exam until they pass to become accountants. There is not a single thing on the CPA exam relevant to being an accountant (maybe a slight exaggeration) but it's considered one of the hardest exams you can take in a profession. Most of what I learned I learned from GOOD professors or on the job. The professors taught me the foundation concepts and why they were relevant while internships and jobs taught me the reality of how it works.

    Frankly testing people is what NCLB advocates and it fails. The reason is simple. Selecting A, B, C, or D doesn't show you understand a topic.

    I really don't see a down side to it from a practical point. If the point of college is to master certain material, and you can show that you have mastered that material, why make you sit through classes?
    A test doesn't show you've mastered anything for one. Second, and more important, it simply is not a model any university would use (even if it was a good idea).

    Now, I don't expect to see traditional universities jumping up and down to support this because it is not a moneymaker for them, but I do think they are going to have to evolve because the world is going to move on without them otherwise.
    Unlikely.

    Look at IT. An IT degree is completely worthless unless you have certifications to go with it, and if you have the certifications, nobody really cares about the degree. I have a little brother who just finished college and a lot of his friend who got IT degrees were SHOCKED that nobody actually cared about their degree. Without the certifications, they could not find work. Why? Because a college degree shows that...well...you went to college. A CISSP certification means you actually KNOW something.
    In IT this is true. This is mostly because those certifications are easily testable. For a CPA, such as myself, it shows you are worth talking to but doesn't show you know a damn thing about accounting. If you had a bunch of people just take the CPA exam and never taken an accounting or auditing course I'd be terrified to hire any of them.

    Further, as you've discussed in the past, working the field is worth more than a degree. If I'm not mistaken, many of the IT certifications require you actually have some experience doing the work first (and have hands on projects as part of the test). I'd prefer this over someone who just passed a test.

    Obviously there is always going to be some things you have to actually show up and sit in a classroom (or more likely a lab) for. The other 90% of your college education, though.....
    Everything not related to my major of accounting could have been an online course and been just as beneficial. As true as this might be, it just is not a possibility. The world will not force them to evolve. Colleges started MOOC and they will morph it into whatever benefits them the most. As I suggested, they aren't going to kill off their primary businesses. They will be used to either generate money in a new way or as a public service. They will probably be used more by Community Colleges to do remedial education and teach very very basic classes. If 4 year universities can use this technology to unload students who are not college ready or unload classes that are generally larger in size (freshman classes) they will do that. But to replace a major, hell no. Those management majors you hate so much are big donors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steeeeve View Post
    I'm not saying this isn't a good idea for some majors, I'm saying it's not gonna happen on a large scale basis. You don't have XXXXXX running these places. If your job is to run a university are you going to find ways to make your university irrelevant? I don't think so. You can get away with this for certain programs at certain universities but not respectable school is going to tell their business school professors to take a hike as they are being replaced by a test. By doing that you kill how your biggest donations come in (business schools are considered the "cash cows" at most universities with them) and you destroy yourself in college rankings. So unless you are University of Phoenix, this model just won't work. The changes you will see are for certain programs like nighttime MBA programs or something like that. These types of programs aren't considered for ratings.
    I don't see it as something most colleges would do on their own...they would have to be forced either by market forces or by the state. I think that is doable, though. The tech industry pushed colleges to adopt something similar to the certification model we ended up with. Colleges basically told them no, so the industry did it on its own. Lets say that the CLEP folks come up with an exam for structural engineering. They put it together so only half of engineering graduates can pass it. Which becomes more impressive, an engineering degree, or the CLEP structural engineering certification? Obviously that is not going to work for all fields, but for many it would. That is essentially how IT certifications became dominate in the tech industry. They basically came up with topic specific tests that college graduates with IT degrees could not pass.

    Realistically I don't think there is any possibility that the University of Wisconsin came up with this plan on their own. UW is a public university and I would say this was likely forced down their throat by the state. Frankly I think we are going to see a LOT more of this kind of thing. People are angry about increased education costs and the fact that it is returning FAR less than they expected, if it is returning anything at all. There was an interesting report released monday available at:

    Underemployment of College Graduates

    It looks at underemployment of people with college degrees. Did you know that 1 in 4 retail workers in the US has a bachelors degree??? Basically it comes to the conclusion that 48% of americans who have college degrees are working at jobs that, according to the BLS, do not generally require one.

    People are looking at this, and at the tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt that your average college graduate is going to spend the next 20 years paying off, and they want something done. They want solutions. It seems to just now be occurring to people that HEY...the states actually OWN and CONTROL those state universities.

    The thing is, in pretty much every state the universities argued for and pretty much got a huge amount of independence for an institution that is essentially part of the states public service branch. Most states are set up with a board of regents that is appointed on a staggered cycle and they serve terms longer than the term of whoever it is who appoints them (in my state it is the governor) so they cant be muscled as easily. They convinced everybody that just letting the universities do their own thing was the only way to go.

    Unfortunately they XXXXed it up completely, spent money foolishly, and put us in a situation where a bachelors degree ends up costing tens of thousands of dollars, and will get you a job as a sales clerk at Dillards.

    Why are business schools cash cows? Are business majors actually dumb enough to fill out the donation form that their alumni association sends them?

    The reason they aren't graduating students who learned anything is because they aren't teaching. I'm talking to professors almost daily and I've never heard one say the reason is that we don't have a hard enough final exam. If this were the case than we should just let people take the CPA exam until they pass to become accountants. There is not a single thing on the CPA exam relevant to being an accountant (maybe a slight exaggeration) but it's considered one of the hardest exams you can take in a profession. Most of what I learned I learned from GOOD professors or on the job. The professors taught me the foundation concepts and why they were relevant while internships and jobs taught me the reality of how it works.
    It has to go beyond just "they aren't teaching". Tenure is not going to protect a professor that doodles boobs on a piece of paper and then passes it out as his syllabus.

    What I typically hear is along the lines of "they have turned college into an extension of high school". When I press for details, the fact that they are required to give points for attendance and for homework always comes up.

    Frankly testing people is what NCLB advocates and it fails. The reason is simple. Selecting A, B, C, or D doesn't show you understand a topic.

    A test doesn't show you've mastered anything for one. Second, and more important, it simply is not a model any university would use (even if it was a good idea).
    NCLB fails because it is testing the knowledge of the students to gauge the competence of the educators. That is a bad model.

    As far as the rest....is there some reason they would have to be multiple choice tests? Most of my finals in college consisted of a multiple choice section to see if you know the facts, then an essay portion to ensure you actually understand them.

    Not a model any university would use? That was THE model ALL universities used up until about 10 years ago. The norm in at least half the classes was for your final to make up the majority of your total grade....a big enough majority that you could bomb everything else, pass the final, and still pass the class.

    In IT this is true. This is mostly because those certifications are easily testable. For a CPA, such as myself, it shows you are worth talking to but doesn't show you know a damn thing about accounting. If you had a bunch of people just take the CPA exam and never taken an accounting or auditing course I'd be terrified to hire any of them.

    Further, as you've discussed in the past, working the field is worth more than a degree. If I'm not mistaken, many of the IT certifications require you actually have some experience doing the work first (and have hands on projects as part of the test). I'd prefer this over someone who just passed a test.
    Most IT certifications just require that you pass the test. For the ones that require "experience" they will pretty much take anything. Back when I was running my shop I acquired a pretty good stack of IT certifications. On the ones that require experience you can literally put "personal research" and they will let it go.

    Everything not related to my major of accounting could have been an online course and been just as beneficial. As true as this might be, it just is not a possibility. The world will not force them to evolve. Colleges started MOOC and they will morph it into whatever benefits them the most. As I suggested, they aren't going to kill off their primary businesses. They will be used to either generate money in a new way or as a public service. They will probably be used more by Community Colleges to do remedial education and teach very very basic classes. If 4 year universities can use this technology to unload students who are not college ready or unload classes that are generally larger in size (freshman classes) they will do that. But to replace a major, hell no. Those management majors you hate so much are big donors.
    I think the world is already forcing them to evolve. Look at nursing. 10 years ago the bachelors nursing program at most schools was a 5-6 year program. You spent your first 2 or 3 years getting your general ed requirements done then spent 3 years in the actual nursing program.

    Today there are still schools that do it that way, but there are also a lot of schools (good ones) that have changed that drastically. Now they require and A&P class within the last 3 years, a psychology class, and basically depend on your TEAS score to show you are not retarded.

    I know in my state that is a change that the state forced due to a shortage of nurses and it is not one that the universities are really happy with. In fact, they all still offer their traditional nursing programs and at least 2 of them do not advertise the accelerated version, you pretty much have to request it, then listen to them try to talk you out of it.

    The thing is, the accelerated program is getting GREAT reviews from the medical community in my state....as in they are giving hiring preference to people who have gone through the accelerated program over the traditional one. They say they are just plain better (probably because they were smarter going in).



    I am not saying that I want a guy who got his medical degree staring at his Iphone at starbucks to open my chest or doing my taxes. If they fulfill their general ed requirements through a series of CLEP type tests, though, I am absolutely fine with that. If somebody gets a music appreciation degree by watching online lectures, downloading a bunch of music from 4shared, and taking tests, I am totally cool with that, too. Look at the example used in the article...the guy is basically testing for his psychology degree. That is a made up field anyway. My engineering degree could have all been done with online courses and independent study....sorry, but my engineering professors were not useful human beings. I am not sure why they ever bothered to show up to class and give a lecture that they had already handed out copies of beforehand.


    I don't think that MOOG is necessarily the cornerstone of the kind of program/system I have in mind. I am thinking more like "expanded CLEP". A lot of my credits in college came from CLEP tests. I don't know if you are familiar with them or not, but they are basically tests that you take that cover general ed courses. Most universities accept them as a replacement for the course. Example, you take CLEP for calculus and it the school basically "transfers" it as credits for calculus as if you took calculus at your local community college, only they kind of screw you because no matter what grade you got on the CLEP test, it goes on your transcript as a C (bastards).

    The silly thing is, most universities that accept CLEP accept ALL the CLEP tests, but limit the number of CLEP credits that they will let you transfer in each year which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, except that they want you to pay them for those credits, not get them for the $50 it costs to take a CLEP test.

    So, here is what I think we need to look at. We need an accrediting agency/association/whatever that accredits CLEP type tests. Each one would cover a single course. States give their universities a kick in the backside and require that they accept the tests from accredited sources.

    There are some majors where they could probably do all the classes/credits that way and nothing would be lost. For majors like business, architecture, biology, etc where you obviously cant do the whole thing like that you could still do your general ed classes and likely at least some of your coursework.

    Frankly getting an eduction like that would probably prepare you for the real world better than the system we have now because people would actually have to do it themselves without anybody forcing them or looking over their shoulder. Imagine it, Steeeve, we could potentially end up with employees who can be given a task and expected to perform it on their own without constant babysitting. They would sit in their cubicles and work diligently instead of playing solitaire and checking their facebook page!!
    If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. —Samuel Adams

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by daewoo View Post
    People are looking at this, and at the tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt that your average college graduate is going to spend the next 20 years paying off, and they want something done. They want solutions. It seems to just now be occurring to people that HEY...the states actually OWN and CONTROL those state universities.

    The thing is, in pretty much every state the universities argued for and pretty much got a huge amount of independence for an institution that is essentially part of the states public service branch. Most states are set up with a board of regents that is appointed on a staggered cycle and they serve terms longer than the term of whoever it is who appoints them (in my state it is the governor) so they cant be muscled as easily. They convinced everybody that just letting the universities do their own thing was the only way to go.

    Unfortunately they XXXXed it up completely, spent money foolishly, and put us in a situation where a bachelors degree ends up costing tens of thousands of dollars, and will get you a job as a sales clerk at Dillards.
    Universities are probably the most efficient spenders of any industry I work with. Large financial institutions and the federal government are the worst (for comparison purposes). The problem with universities is basically it is an arms race with unlimited resources. The goal of a university is to be the best university it can be. To do so you need the best professors you can buy and have the best facilities. Colleges aren't blowing money on administrative personnel to sit around and play on facebook, they are blowing money on expensive professors and new buildings with new equipment because US News and World Report says a more expensive professor in a newer building means you are a better university. Public schools have been very flat in per student spending over the past decade. Prior to that they went up at faster than inflation pace which can mostly be explained by public demands for certain things such as research, "feel good" operations (think green energy), and compliance burdens. Private spending per student has gone up more than public. This is mostly because they don't get yelled at when they do it. The spending increases there are mainly for expensive professors. New buildings generally don't play into the per student cost because they are funded by donors.

    The "waste" that universities have is generally not in inefficient operations but things I find don't help education. It costs lots of money to have run a green energy program or have lots of "student development" programs. It also costs money to have the extra programs on the side like continuing education for adults who want to learn civil war history for the fun of it. All those programs are at the bare minimum of cost possible and run, in general, very well, but they just don't add to the value of education. The reason community colleges are cheaper are because they don't have to have all of those. However, Community Colleges are increasing in costs per student at a similar rate to public schools. This further proves that it isn't necessarily inefficient operations that are causing the problem.

    Now, the question is whether or not students are getting their money's worth. Clearly the answer is no. Here is where you and I probably think similar. I think that Universities these days have a crisis of priorities. You have the public that wants one thing, companies want another, legislators who want another, students who want another, ranking agencies that want another, and professors who want another. It's beginning to reach a critical mass where something will change at universities. The one thing I feel confident about is that it isn't MOOC. MOOC just doesn't solve the needs of enough stakeholders. Testing out of classes is already done and will probably increase but that won't change to entire degrees being converted to a few tests. Even in accounting, you need the classes before you can take the test. This is because you can't understand accounting by passing the CPA exam. The same applies to the IT tests you mention. The CISSP, for example, requires 5 years experience. Basically, you have to learn it for five years...much like a degree for a field. But this brings us back to the point that colleges aren't fulfilling that need.

    Why are business schools cash cows? Are business majors actually dumb enough to fill out the donation form that their alumni association sends them?
    They tend to be the biggest and most frequent donors. I'm not sure why that is but thinking of the personalities of that subgroup versus, say, an engineer you might say business majors are just more social and therefore more about the school.

    It has to go beyond just "they aren't teaching". Tenure is not going to protect a professor that doodles boobs on a piece of paper and then passes it out as his syllabus.

    What I typically hear is along the lines of "they have turned college into an extension of high school". When I press for details, the fact that they are required to give points for attendance and for homework always comes up.
    This is more true and more the fault of High Schools than colleges. a high GPA out of High School and a high SAT score doesn't mean you can read or write apparently. It's not so hard to study for one test

    As far as the rest....is there some reason they would have to be multiple choice tests? Most of my finals in college consisted of a multiple choice section to see if you know the facts, then an essay portion to ensure you actually understand them.
    Yes. Grading 500 essays is very difficult and expensive. This is why MOOC will never work. As for an industry just making a certification exam, they could easily do that. It just won't happen at universities.

    Not a model any university would use? That was THE model ALL universities used up until about 10 years ago. The norm in at least half the classes was for your final to make up the majority of your total grade....a big enough majority that you could bomb everything else, pass the final, and still pass the class.
    That model is different from what the article is advocating. Many university classes still do the mid-term and final as your only grades. But that doesn't shave any costs nor does it making teaching any better or worse. The article is talking about taking one test for one degree and on a massive scale. The equivalent to having a final exam only for someone just taking a test or a degree would be to have 40 final exams combined into one.

    As an aside I think many teachers prefer more students to attend classes because the learning is better that way. Asian countries often times can take tests and crush them but when it comes to real world application they fail. Being in class offers opportunities to apply knowledge learned outside of class. Perhaps the days when you and I were in college were not a best practice.

    Most IT certifications just require that you pass the test. For the ones that require "experience" they will pretty much take anything. Back when I was running my shop I acquired a pretty good stack of IT certifications. On the ones that require experience you can literally put "personal research" and they will let it go.
    CISSP requires 5 years experience in 2 of the areas they test. PMP requires 6 or 7 years experience in related fields plus classes I believe. Microsoft and CISCO certifications generally don't require experience. A CISSP and PMP are the most highly demanded IT certifications. Microsoft and CISCO certifications don't equate to any major nor should you obtain one if you are going into a field that requires one of those.

    I think the world is already forcing them to evolve. Look at nursing. 10 years ago the bachelors nursing program at most schools was a 5-6 year program. You spent your first 2 or 3 years getting your general ed requirements done then spent 3 years in the actual nursing program.

    Today there are still schools that do it that way, but there are also a lot of schools (good ones) that have changed that drastically. Now they require and A&P class within the last 3 years, a psychology class, and basically depend on your TEAS score to show you are not retarded.

    I know in my state that is a change that the state forced due to a shortage of nurses and it is not one that the universities are really happy with. In fact, they all still offer their traditional nursing programs and at least 2 of them do not advertise the accelerated version, you pretty much have to request it, then listen to them try to talk you out of it.

    The thing is, the accelerated program is getting GREAT reviews from the medical community in my state....as in they are giving hiring preference to people who have gone through the accelerated program over the traditional one. They say they are just plain better (probably because they were smarter going in).
    I dunno about your state but nursing programs were always legacy programs at 4 year schools that had them (like teaching schools still are). Most schools wanted to get rid of them. They only existed because no one else was doing it. Since then, community colleges have taken over or schools with hospitals converted it to a 2 year program. With that said, nursing schools are extremely hard to get in to and you are more likely to get in if you have a Bachelors degree. I'd know, my wife did this (her degree is biology). Further, hospitals pay more for nurses with bachelors degrees and they are actually in demand because they can be used for research purposes and more specialties.

    This is actually a good example of normal progression within higher education. I wouldn't be shocked if this continued for other areas in health care or other degrees. In fact, it is entirely possible that colleges will push general education classes down to the community college level. At this point they would be more prime for MOOC or testing out of. This, however, is a far cry from switching to MOOC or a test for an entire degree.

    I am not saying that I want a guy who got his medical degree staring at his Iphone at starbucks to open my chest or doing my taxes. If they fulfill their general ed requirements through a series of CLEP type tests, though, I am absolutely fine with that. If somebody gets a music appreciation degree by watching online lectures, downloading a bunch of music from 4shared, and taking tests, I am totally cool with that, too.
    I'm not. Why are we paying anything for a music appreciation degree? I'd prefer we only subsidize degrees that are in demand. My point is that no college will offer their major degrees as all online or test only. It's simply not going to happen in my lifetime. Considering colleges are the ones coming up with these new technologies I doubt very much the market will force anything on them.

    Look at the example used in the article...the guy is basically testing for his psychology degree. That is a made up field anyway. My engineering degree could have all been done with online courses and independent study....sorry, but my engineering professors were not useful human beings. I am not sure why they ever bothered to show up to class and give a lecture that they had already handed out copies of beforehand.
    The school I went to had a top engineering program and I don't recall a single student saying they could not show for class...everything was hands on. In fact, those were the only students who worked and went to class Now they all work for people like me, suckers. Psychology degrees are worthless until you get to the PhD level. That degree shouldn't exist at the Bachelors level...after 2 years they should either say you are going to be in the PhD program or you have to find another field.


    I don't think that MOOG is necessarily the cornerstone of the kind of program/system I have in mind. I am thinking more like "expanded CLEP". A lot of my credits in college came from CLEP tests. I don't know if you are familiar with them or not, but they are basically tests that you take that cover general ed courses. Most universities accept them as a replacement for the course. Example, you take CLEP for calculus and it the school basically "transfers" it as credits for calculus as if you took calculus at your local community college, only they kind of screw you because no matter what grade you got on the CLEP test, it goes on your transcript as a C (bastards).

    The silly thing is, most universities that accept CLEP accept ALL the CLEP tests, but limit the number of CLEP credits that they will let you transfer in each year which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, except that they want you to pay them for those credits, not get them for the $50 it costs to take a CLEP test.
    I understand the CLEP thing and for general ed classes that is probably best. This is something many schools are already taking about. General Ed classes are large, expensive, and basically useless for a schools overall perception. Every 4 year would love to unload them. What they won't do is allow John Doe to take a test at the local Prometric testing center and get an Accounting Degree from UNC.

    So, here is what I think we need to look at. We need an accrediting agency/association/whatever that accredits CLEP type tests. Each one would cover a single course. States give their universities a kick in the backside and require that they accept the tests from accredited sources.
    Don't get me started on accrediting agencies

    Frankly getting an eduction like that would probably prepare you for the real world better than the system we have now because people would actually have to do it themselves without anybody forcing them or looking over their shoulder. Imagine it, Steeeve, we could potentially end up with employees who can be given a task and expected to perform it on their own without constant babysitting. They would sit in their cubicles and work diligently instead of playing solitaire and checking their facebook page!!
    Unloading GE classes would be good. Frankly, if I had it my way, you'd graduate high school at 15-16 go to community college for 2 years for general ed classes or vocational education depending on a test you took to judge intellect. Afterwards you'd go to a 4 year school where you took 2 years of your major classes and 2 years of an internship. Or something like that.

    My apologizes for any spelling or grammatical errors. I'm writing this a little under the weather.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steeeeve View Post
    Universities are probably the most efficient spenders of any industry I work with. Large financial institutions and the federal government are the worst (for comparison purposes). The problem with universities is basically it is an arms race with unlimited resources. The goal of a university is to be the best university it can be. To do so you need the best professors you can buy and have the best facilities. Colleges aren't blowing money on administrative personnel to sit around and play on facebook, they are blowing money on expensive professors and new buildings with new equipment because US News and World Report says a more expensive professor in a newer building means you are a better university. Public schools have been very flat in per student spending over the past decade. Prior to that they went up at faster than inflation pace which can mostly be explained by public demands for certain things such as research, "feel good" operations (think green energy), and compliance burdens. Private spending per student has gone up more than public. This is mostly because they don't get yelled at when they do it. The spending increases there are mainly for expensive professors. New buildings generally don't play into the per student cost because they are funded by donors.

    The "waste" that universities have is generally not in inefficient operations but things I find don't help education. It costs lots of money to have run a green energy program or have lots of "student development" programs. It also costs money to have the extra programs on the side like continuing education for adults who want to learn civil war history for the fun of it. All those programs are at the bare minimum of cost possible and run, in general, very well, but they just don't add to the value of education. The reason community colleges are cheaper are because they don't have to have all of those. However, Community Colleges are increasing in costs per student at a similar rate to public schools. This further proves that it isn't necessarily inefficient operations that are causing the problem.
    First question....how in the world did US News and World Report become the go to guys for college rankings? Seriously....how in the world did that happen? Everybody quotes US NAWR for college rankings. It seems like those would be handled by some organization that is maybe a little more academic??

    Now, the question is whether or not students are getting their money's worth. Clearly the answer is no. Here is where you and I probably think similar. I think that Universities these days have a crisis of priorities. You have the public that wants one thing, companies want another, legislators who want another, students who want another, ranking agencies that want another, and professors who want another. It's beginning to reach a critical mass where something will change at universities. The one thing I feel confident about is that it isn't MOOC. MOOC just doesn't solve the needs of enough stakeholders. Testing out of classes is already done and will probably increase but that won't change to entire degrees being converted to a few tests. Even in accounting, you need the classes before you can take the test. This is because you can't understand accounting by passing the CPA exam. The same applies to the IT tests you mention. The CISSP, for example, requires 5 years experience. Basically, you have to learn it for five years...much like a degree for a field. But this brings us back to the point that colleges aren't fulfilling that need.
    I dont know anything about MOOC, so I will take your word for it.

    Where I have problems with colleges and their spending habits basically falls into 3 areas. First, construction and construction costs. When colleges build, they tend to build palaces. K-State is building a new football stadium right now. IT is all being built out of white limestone block, an insanely expensive option. The sprint world headquarters is in Overland Park, Ks, and is not nearly as nice as the new K-State football stadium is going to be. That is insane. I am not opposed to building a good building, or even a nice looking building, but you dont need a palace. Colleges are keeping the dimensional stone industry in business right now. Everybody else has stopped spending an extra 115% on the facia of their building, but not colleges.....

    Second, they have done an extremely poor job of integrating new technology to bring costs down. You say all the frontrunners when it comes to online classes suck, OK. If the folks running the schools were all that smart, they would figure out a way to make it work. 10 years ago I spent more time traveling than I did at home. I was all over the country at project collaboration meetings. One of my biggest business expenses was sending my people to those. I cant remember the last time I even heard of somebody traveling for one. Now you log into your project management software and do it all online. If Boeing can use their online project collaboration platform to bring together literally thousands of people all over the world to collaborate on a new aircraft, the folks at your local university should damn well be able to put together an effective online course to teach 20 people at a time algebra.

    Third, I think they pad their requirements and credit transfers in order to boost revenue...like K-state accepts all the CLEP tests, but limits the number you can actually use and they limit the number of credits they will let you transfer in from community collages. When I say "pad their requirements" I am talking about some of their prerequisites. When you have a class whose pre-reqs are "either general psychology OR Health and Nutrition" they are pretty much just forcing you to buy an extra class. Obviously for some things pre-reqs make sense, but when you have nonsensical pre-reqs, you are just getting shafted.


    This is more true and more the fault of High Schools than colleges. a high GPA out of High School and a high SAT score doesn't mean you can read or write apparently. It's not so hard to study for one test
    Come on, Steeeeve, you and I both know you dont need a high GPA and SAT score out of high school to get into most state colleges In KS they HAVE to take you if you are a resident.

    Yes. Grading 500 essays is very difficult and expensive. This is why MOOC will never work. As for an industry just making a certification exam, they could easily do that. It just won't happen at universities.

    That model is different from what the article is advocating. Many university classes still do the mid-term and final as your only grades. But that doesn't shave any costs nor does it making teaching any better or worse. The article is talking about taking one test for one degree and on a massive scale. The equivalent to having a final exam only for someone just taking a test or a degree would be to have 40 final exams combined into one.
    I dont think that is what they are talking about. From the article:

    Instead, he will sit through hours of testing at his home computer in Milwaukee under a new program that promises to award a bachelor's degree based on knowledge—not just class time or credits.
    It sounds to me like they are putting together a comprehensive series of tests that covers basically all the curriculum you would cover to get a psychology degree.



    I dunno about your state but nursing programs were always legacy programs at 4 year schools that had them (like teaching schools still are). Most schools wanted to get rid of them. They only existed because no one else was doing it. Since then, community colleges have taken over or schools with hospitals converted it to a 2 year program. With that said, nursing schools are extremely hard to get in to and you are more likely to get in if you have a Bachelors degree. I'd know, my wife did this (her degree is biology). Further, hospitals pay more for nurses with bachelors degrees and they are actually in demand because they can be used for research purposes and more specialties.
    Small world...I used nursing as an example because my wife went back to school and is currently in nursing school

    There are 3 different (basic) nursing degrees. You have your LPN degree (licensed practical nurse) and RN (Registered Nurse), but RNs are either ARNs (associates) or BRNs (bachelors)

    LPN is kind of like CNA (certified nurses aid), it is more of a professional certification than a degree. LPNS and ARNs come from community colleges. BRNs have a bachelors of science in nursing (BSN).

    My wife is working on her BSN because with the accelerated entry deal she can basically be done and have her BSN in 2 years, or go to a community college and have an associated in nursing in....2 years. The down side to doing it that way was that in order to go that route she had to score over 88% on her TEAS V, which means you have to be in the 99th percentile.


    The school I went to had a top engineering program and I don't recall a single student saying they could not show for class...everything was hands on. In fact, those were the only students who worked and went to class Now they all work for people like me, suckers. Psychology degrees are worthless until you get to the PhD level. That degree shouldn't exist at the Bachelors level...after 2 years they should either say you are going to be in the PhD program or you have to find another field.
    Oh....I know...who spent like 200 hours designing and building a concrete boat? THIS GUY!!! What did that teach me that was applicable to an engineering job? Not a damn thing.

    IMO this is a problem with how colleges look at their basic role in a persons life. They believe that when you enroll in their engineering program, the goal is for you to graduate with a degree in engineering, at which point you are an engineer. That is not the way the world works, though. The fact that you have a degree in engineering does NOT make you an engineer. In order to "be" an engineer, somebody has to hire you for an engineering job.

    The problem is that most of that "hands on" stuff is basically supposed to replicate "real world" engineering projects. They fail terribly.

    As somebody who has both been through an engineering program and who has hired a lot of engineers I will say without reservation that the schools need to focus on making sure the kids have the knowledge required to be an engineer and let their employers provide the real world application. This would work out best for everybody. The school can teach the facts, which is what they are good at and what they are qualified to do, then let actual engineers who work in the real world and actually know how things are really engineered teach them to apply those facts they learned.

    I understand the CLEP thing and for general ed classes that is probably best. This is something many schools are already taking about. General Ed classes are large, expensive, and basically useless for a schools overall perception. Every 4 year would love to unload them. What they won't do is allow John Doe to take a test at the local Prometric testing center and get an Accounting Degree from UNC.

    Don't get me started on accrediting agencies

    Unloading GE classes would be good. Frankly, if I had it my way, you'd graduate high school at 15-16 go to community college for 2 years for general ed classes or vocational education depending on a test you took to judge intellect. Afterwards you'd go to a 4 year school where you took 2 years of your major classes and 2 years of an internship. Or something like that.
    If they would like to unload GE classes, why do they do things like limit the number you can transfer in and limit CLEP? I always assumed that it was because they were basically guarding their revenue stream.

    I like your idea as far as including an internship...I think that would make graduates a lot more useful.

    of course, I also think that graduates would be more useful if we changed requirements for our professors. I did not have a single professor in any of my engineering classes who had actually held a job in the field in the last decade. Not one. I know engineering sounds like a fairly static field, but it is NOT....not even close. Materials and fabrication techniques are changing at an incredible rate as is design technology. The same professors who wanted to argue that we needed to build a concrete boat because without the hands on experience no amount of studying in the world would get us where we needed to be were relying on studying to keep them updated and they were failing miserably. That is why I say an engineering degree could easily be converted to an online format....all the practical experience I got while pursuing mine was ceased being practical about 10 years before I got there.

    That is actually one thing I like about community colleges (or at least the ones I am familiar with). They use a lot of Adjunct professors who usually have a full time job in the field they are teaching.

    Even universities with top rated architecture programs are still having kids spend hours in "studio" building models out of foam core board and drafting on a drafting table. I have been in a LOT of architects offices and have literally never seen a drafting table in any of them. I have also never heard of an architect building a model....they have a shop that does that, and they sure as hell don't build it out of foam core board.


    My apologizes for any spelling or grammatical errors. I'm writing this a little under the weather.
    I hope you feel better soon. I had a terrible flu yesterday but feeling a bit better today. Hopefully yours is short also.
    If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. —Samuel Adams

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by daewoo View Post
    First question....how in the world did US News and World Report become the go to guys for college rankings? Seriously....how in the world did that happen? Everybody quotes US NAWR for college rankings. It seems like those would be handled by some organization that is maybe a little more academic??
    It's worse than you think. Not only is it odd they are the go-to but the ranking doesn't make much sense to begin with. The actually attempted to change the formula a few years back to take into account student satisfaction and student "results" (did they get a job in the field studied) but this caused Harvard and Yale to drop out of the top 10 so they went back to the old way. Sadly, people live and die by those numbers at these colleges. This is why I love community colleges. They don't give a sh*t and it pays off. The education they provide for the price is unbelievable. If you could quantify knowledge gained from start to finish on a per dollar basis I'd bet my life a community college would XXXX Harvard out of the water.

    Where I have problems with colleges and their spending habits basically falls into 3 areas. First, construction and construction costs. When colleges build, they tend to build palaces. K-State is building a new football stadium right now. IT is all being built out of white limestone block, an insanely expensive option. [/quote]And it is 100% financed by donors...i looked it up. This is nothing new. Getting donations for a building is easy. Costs about $5-10 mill to get partial naming rights of a medium sized building (30k sq ft). Getting donations to keep the lights on is hard as hell. The donations colleges like most are unrestricted $100 gifts and they are impossible to get. But as for construction, it's a problem but more so at poorer schools than rich ones...but the poorer schools don't go as fancy.

    Second, they have done an extremely poor job of integrating new technology to bring costs down. You say all the frontrunners when it comes to online classes suck, OK. If the folks running the schools were all that smart, they would figure out a way to make it work.
    I disagree. Universities have great integrating technology...for the most part. It's just that online classes are expensive and really don't save any money anyway. Servers have a very short shelf life and bandwidth is very expensive and difficult to upgrade. One University I'm familiar with has doubled their bandwidth capacity every 2 years and it's still not enough...and their budget is massive for it. But back to my point...online classes still require you to pay a professor which is 60-75% of the cost at a university. So you save no money there. You save minimal amounts by not having to build another classroom but the reality is classroom space hasn't been too much of a constraint at schools. So I'm not sure online classes are really the way to bring down costs or even would. As for other information systems, Universities are generally 10 years ahead of large private companies (depending on the state). The public schools in Virginia have had e-invoicing and document scanning before many companies even heard of it. The one problem here is that Universities are finding Information Systems are generally more expensive than the old manual processes. This is mostly because 1 IT guy is more expensive than 3 data entry folks.

    10 years ago I spent more time traveling than I did at home. I was all over the country at project collaboration meetings. One of my biggest business expenses was sending my people to those. I cant remember the last time I even heard of somebody traveling for one. Now you log into your project management software and do it all online. If Boeing can use their online project collaboration platform to bring together literally thousands of people all over the world to collaborate on a new aircraft, the folks at your local university should damn well be able to put together an effective online course to teach 20 people at a time algebra.
    And they do, it's just that your students aren't traveling from Japan to come to class. They are already there. If Boeing spent a million (the cost of newer online collaboration CISCO projects) so their team didn't have to cross the street to come to the meeting room I'd be shocked.

    Third, I think they pad their requirements and credit transfers in order to boost revenue...like K-state accepts all the CLEP tests, but limits the number you can actually use and they limit the number of credits they will let you transfer in from community collages. When I say "pad their requirements" I am talking about some of their prerequisites. When you have a class whose pre-reqs are "either general psychology OR Health and Nutrition" they are pretty much just forcing you to buy an extra class. Obviously for some things pre-reqs make sense, but when you have nonsensical pre-reqs, you are just getting shafted.
    Yeah, a lot of schools do this and I honestly don't understand it either. Frankly I've never asked so I dunno. My gut tells me it is a rankings thing but I have nothing to back that up. As an aside, I think rankings/accrediting agencies really hurt universities more than any of the three things you suggest...although you have valid concerns.

    Come on, Steeeeve, you and I both know you dont need a high GPA and SAT score out of high school to get into most state colleges In KS they HAVE to take you if you are a resident.
    Which is really sad. If the high GPA people can't write what are the low GPA people doing? Well, this isn't fair...inner-city school kids get the shaft. We've completely failed them as a society. The HBCUs of the world actually are pretty noble in trying to help them.

    Small world...I used nursing as an example because my wife went back to school and is currently in nursing school
    Technically my wife is getting a degree in Ultrasound, but who's counting Last semester for her.

    There are 3 different (basic) nursing degrees. You have your LPN degree (licensed practical nurse) and RN (Registered Nurse), but RNs are either ARNs (associates) or BRNs (bachelors)

    LPN is kind of like CNA (certified nurses aid), it is more of a professional certification than a degree. LPNS and ARNs come from community colleges. BRNs have a bachelors of science in nursing (BSN).

    My wife is working on her BSN because with the accelerated entry deal she can basically be done and have her BSN in 2 years, or go to a community college and have an associated in nursing in....2 years. The down side to doing it that way was that in order to go that route she had to score over 88% on her TEAS V, which means you have to be in the 99th percentile.
    They should probably create a type of basic doctor and move that field to community colleges. Nurses basically learn all a doctor learns anyway. Hell, I had a friend/roommate who was in med school and hearing the things he learned and what my wife is learning are basically the same.

    Oh....I know...who spent like 200 hours designing and building a concrete boat? THIS GUY!!! What did that teach me that was applicable to an engineering job? Not a damn thing.

    IMO this is a problem with how colleges look at their basic role in a persons life. They believe that when you enroll in their engineering program, the goal is for you to graduate with a degree in engineering, at which point you are an engineer. That is not the way the world works, though. The fact that you have a degree in engineering does NOT make you an engineer. In order to "be" an engineer, somebody has to hire you for an engineering job.

    The problem is that most of that "hands on" stuff is basically supposed to replicate "real world" engineering projects. They fail terribly.

    As somebody who has both been through an engineering program and who has hired a lot of engineers I will say without reservation that the schools need to focus on making sure the kids have the knowledge required to be an engineer and let their employers provide the real world application. This would work out best for everybody. The school can teach the facts, which is what they are good at and what they are qualified to do, then let actual engineers who work in the real world and actually know how things are really engineered teach them to apply those facts they learned.
    I'll defer to you on this one but I have only heard good things from my friends who graduated in engineering from my school. Maybe it was the exception.

    If they would like to unload GE classes, why do they do things like limit the number you can transfer in and limit CLEP? I always assumed that it was because they were basically guarding their revenue stream.
    Like I said, not sure. If it messes with rankings or accreditation that would explain a lot.

    I like your idea as far as including an internship...I think that would make graduates a lot more useful.

    of course, I also think that graduates would be more useful if we changed requirements for our professors. I did not have a single professor in any of my engineering classes who had actually held a job in the field in the last decade. Not one. I know engineering sounds like a fairly static field, but it is NOT....not even close. Materials and fabrication techniques are changing at an incredible rate as is design technology. The same professors who wanted to argue that we needed to build a concrete boat because without the hands on experience no amount of studying in the world would get us where we needed to be were relying on studying to keep them updated and they were failing miserably. That is why I say an engineering degree could easily be converted to an online format....all the practical experience I got while pursuing mine was ceased being practical about 10 years before I got there.

    That is actually one thing I like about community colleges (or at least the ones I am familiar with). They use a lot of Adjunct professors who usually have a full time job in the field they are teaching.
    You are dead on here. Same thing with accounting. Accounting professors generally have no clue about reality and then they get on FASB/GASB projects and make borderline retarded accounting rules (fair value anyone). Adjuncts have the most knowledge and paid the least. Honestly, there should be no PhD in accounting. It makes no sense and it shouldn't be required for being a professor. This is actually why there is a huge shortage of accounting professors....no one is dumb enough to waste 6 years of salary to get a degree where you get paid $100k a year for life with minor adjustments for inflation. A good CPA will easily pass 100k in 10 years.

    Even universities with top rated architecture programs are still having kids spend hours in "studio" building models out of foam core board and drafting on a drafting table. I have been in a LOT of architects offices and have literally never seen a drafting table in any of them. I have also never heard of an architect building a model....they have a shop that does that, and they sure as hell don't build it out of foam core board.
    Yeah, the top schools are switching to computer based teaching. You mentioned technology above. Your point might be more valid in teaching than for university infrastructure. In accounting, for example, teaching SQL and other data manipulation techniques along with how accounting information systems work should be more of a priority. Yes, learning the underlying debits and credits are extremely important but the way that flows in a system is equally important. I think this is where universities should step it up.

    Further, state colleges need to end all liberal arts programs. They are just not in high demand and taxpayers should only be funding high demand fields. I'm fine with liberal arts colleges being private as it does fill a need but private schools are small in numbers which makes it so the market isn't flooded with International Studies majors.

    I hope you feel better soon. I had a terrible flu yesterday but feeling a bit better today. Hopefully yours is short also.
    Just tried to drink a bunch of tea. Of course I went to work anyway and shock hands with a bunch of people who pay my salary sooooo that's not good.

    Alright, time for bed...Gotta get to work in 7 hours.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steeeeve View Post
    It's worse than you think. Not only is it odd they are the go-to but the ranking doesn't make much sense to begin with. The actually attempted to change the formula a few years back to take into account student satisfaction and student "results" (did they get a job in the field studied) but this caused Harvard and Yale to drop out of the top 10 so they went back to the old way. Sadly, people live and die by those numbers at these colleges. This is why I love community colleges. They don't give a sh*t and it pays off. The education they provide for the price is unbelievable. If you could quantify knowledge gained from start to finish on a per dollar basis I'd bet my life a community college would XXXX Harvard out of the water.
    To me, student satisfaction and results should be the PRIMARY ratings system. I am not even sure there should be another one.

    And it is 100% financed by donors...i looked it up. This is nothing new. Getting donations for a building is easy. Costs about $5-10 mill to get partial naming rights of a medium sized building (30k sq ft). Getting donations to keep the lights on is hard as hell. The donations colleges like most are unrestricted $100 gifts and they are impossible to get. But as for construction, it's a problem but more so at poorer schools than rich ones...but the poorer schools don't go as fancy.
    That changes things considerably, then. I didn't realize all that construction was fully funded by donations. That having been said, though, you would think somebody at a university would be able to sit down and calculate things like operating costs for the building/total cost of ownership. More on this further down.

    I disagree. Universities have great integrating technology...for the most part. It's just that online classes are expensive and really don't save any money anyway. Servers have a very short shelf life and bandwidth is very expensive and difficult to upgrade. One University I'm familiar with has doubled their bandwidth capacity every 2 years and it's still not enough...and their budget is massive for it. But back to my point...online classes still require you to pay a professor which is 60-75% of the cost at a university. So you save no money there. You save minimal amounts by not having to build another classroom but the reality is classroom space hasn't been too much of a constraint at schools. So I'm not sure online classes are really the way to bring down costs or even would. As for other information systems, Universities are generally 10 years ahead of large private companies (depending on the state). The public schools in Virginia have had e-invoicing and document scanning before many companies even heard of it. The one problem here is that Universities are finding Information Systems are generally more expensive than the old manual processes. This is mostly because 1 IT guy is more expensive than 3 data entry folks.

    And they do, it's just that your students aren't traveling from Japan to come to class. They are already there. If Boeing spent a million (the cost of newer online collaboration CISCO projects) so their team didn't have to cross the street to come to the meeting room I'd be shocked.
    Three things strike me here. First, the issue of bandwidth. That has become a massive issue in the private sector. It is not just a question of the cost of big bandwidth pipes, it is the fact that in some places you simply cannot get what you need. That would be part of the infrastructure spending that I keep advocating. We need to upgrade our IT infrastructure if we want to be competitive in the world market. There are no two ways about it. We have fallen behind the rest of the first world" when it comes to IT infrastructure and it it costing us BIG TIME. Look at Kansas City. Kansas City was chosen as the testbed for the google fiber initiative. It offers gigabit fiber internet for $70 per month, and it is actually profitable. Kansas City, which has been a steadily dying city for years, was the number 1 city for tech startups last year. They are calling it the Silicone Prairie. People are literally moving from all over the country just for the internet access.

    Second, part of the point of online classes SHOULD be that it allows professors to teach a LOT more students. We need to forget about "telepresence" completely. My wifes online class structure seemed pretty good. There was no "watch this recorded lecture" BS. I did some looking into it after we talked about online classes a while back and found out that it is something her school developed in house and is basically based on the project collaboration software model rather than any of the online education packages.

    I am unfamiliar with CISCOs product. Boeing uses an in-house solution based on the Egroupware software (open source). I use a similar setup, as do several other companies. IMO universities should certainly be able to come up with something that is both better and cheaper than CISCOs product.

    Third, if classroom space is not an issue, we are back to "overbuilding". Buildings are expensive. Even if they are fully funded by donations, ownership costs are high on them.

    Yeah, a lot of schools do this and I honestly don't understand it either. Frankly I've never asked so I dunno. My gut tells me it is a rankings thing but I have nothing to back that up. As an aside, I think rankings/accrediting agencies really hurt universities more than any of the three things you suggest...although you have valid concerns.
    Until the schools stop that...limiting the number of credits you can transfer in or get from alternative sources, we can probably pretty much forget about making any meaningful difference in education costs (or quality). This goes back to the building cost thing, though, at least to some degree. If they allowed unlimited credit transfers you would see a lot less people taking general ed classes at universities, which means empty classrooms, which means an expensive asset showing no return.
    If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. —Samuel Adams

  10. #10
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    This is an interesting conversation but I can't help but feel we are putting the cart before the horse. Fixing Higher Education is important but it's a lot better off than K-12 education. I really think before you can fix anything with Higher Education you gotta start giving illiterate people high school diplomas.

    Quote Originally Posted by daewoo View Post
    To me, student satisfaction and results should be the PRIMARY ratings system. I am not even sure there should be another one.
    You mean % of students who donate the university is not a good indicator of school performance? Student satisfaction and results (other than graduation and retention rate) are not part of the ratings. They aren't even part of the accreditation process.

    If you look at the various rankings and what goes into them it becomes apparent that the measures of success in Higher Education have led us to where we are today. At first glance things like "what your peers think of you" and "faculty resources" seem like a good measure of how a university but the reality doesn't show that. I think we can both agree that the main purpose the public sees for a university is to prepare people for advanced jobs. You'd could argue (as I would) that we do need a few folks to be "intellectual thinkers" but by in large we just need advanced training. With that said,

    That changes things considerably, then. I didn't realize all that construction was fully funded by donations. That having been said, though, you would think somebody at a university would be able to sit down and calculate things like operating costs for the building/total cost of ownership. More on this further down.
    At private schools it's a huge % donated unless the school is not well known. If that's the case they tend to build cheap buildings anyway. For publics, classrooms are taxpayer funded but are rarely built. Dorms are "revenue bonds" meaning they are paid for by the students who stay in them. Surprisingly, occupancy has never been a problem as most universities. Research buildings and stadiums tend to get a lot of donations. Other specialty buildings do as well. Finally, many bigger or well known schools tend to get the one really rich guy to fund a "college" which is why you have the John Doe School of Business. They tend to pay for the buildings and numerous professorships.

    As for the operating cost, yeah, they factor it in but no one is turning down $50 million for a pretty new Performing Arts Center...because, you know, what would K-State do without a Performing Arts Center?

    Colleges tend to copy each other in a never ending arms race. It probably drives costs a little bit but more importantly it gets away from the focus of a university. That's why in Virginia when one school got a "Performing Arts Center" they all had to.

    Three things strike me here. First, the issue of bandwidth. That has become a massive issue in the private sector. It is not just a question of the cost of big bandwidth pipes, it is the fact that in some places you simply cannot get what you need. That would be part of the infrastructure spending that I keep advocating. We need to upgrade our IT infrastructure if we want to be competitive in the world market. There are no two ways about it. We have fallen behind the rest of the first world" when it comes to IT infrastructure and it it costing us BIG TIME. Look at Kansas City. Kansas City was chosen as the testbed for the google fiber initiative. It offers gigabit fiber internet for $70 per month, and it is actually profitable. Kansas City, which has been a steadily dying city for years, was the number 1 city for tech startups last year. They are calling it the Silicone Prairie. People are literally moving from all over the country just for the internet access.
    Yeah, telecommunications is something I don't understand. We have private companies build the cars but public money pays for the roads, we have private companies build and operate the airplane but a public authority maintains the airport; so why do we have private companies building the infrastructure and offering the service? It only mildly works...and even then only in highly populated areas. WSJ had an article the other day saying inner-city school kids basically do homework at McDonalds because it provides free high speed internet. I'm not sure that makes any sense.

    Second, part of the point of online classes SHOULD be that it allows professors to teach a LOT more students. We need to forget about "telepresence" completely. My wifes online class structure seemed pretty good. There was no "watch this recorded lecture" BS. I did some looking into it after we talked about online classes a while back and found out that it is something her school developed in house and is basically based on the project collaboration software model rather than any of the online education packages.
    Two things; 1) your schools don't want a higher student teacher ratio and 2) the more students you have the less the class can be. Like I suggested earlier, when you get into large class sizes you have to go to multiple choice tests because it isn't possible to grade that many papers. A good teacher spends roughly 30minutes to an hour grading one paper.

    Third, if classroom space is not an issue, we are back to "overbuilding". Buildings are expensive. Even if they are fully funded by donations, ownership costs are high on them.
    Pfff, classrooms are rarely built and the ones that are built generally are specialty. Virginia Tech, for example, just recently built a new dining hall with 6 or 8 classrooms in it. They only included those so the state would pay for part of it...they really just wanted the new dining area.

    Classroom space utilization various in Virginia but is generally around 30-38 hours a week. This means that a given classroom at a school in Virginia has at least 1 student being taught in it for 30-38 hours a week. In theory, a school could run 7 days a week from 8-8 with 15 min gaps for class change basically giving you 70 hours a week you could use the space. Even had 5 days a week that is 50 hours. Universities tend to hold fewer and fewer classes on Friday which is why this number is continuously dropping.

    So no, classrooms are not the problem and universities aren't even building them. What universities are building are dorms, athletic facilities, other auxiliary buildings, lots of infrastructure (parking decks, heating plants, etc), research buildings, and support buildings (student centers). The infrastructure is badly needed so I have no problem with that. The dorms, athletic facilities, and other auxiliaries cost the taxpayer nothing. Most are paid for by donors anyway (not dorms). Dorms ARE a problem...they are luxury dorms these days. The theory is they attract better students. I told one school they should spend 50 million to make the dorms worse. When I was in school after 2 months in the dorm I got a job and started looking for an apartment. I'm a better man for it. Nothing like giving kids a false sense of entitlement for 4 years and then throwing them into reality with a bill for the party.

    As someone once told me "the problem is college's make it summer camp when it should be boot camp".

    Until the schools stop that...limiting the number of credits you can transfer in or get from alternative sources, we can probably pretty much forget about making any meaningful difference in education costs (or quality). This goes back to the building cost thing, though, at least to some degree. If they allowed unlimited credit transfers you would see a lot less people taking general ed classes at universities, which means empty classrooms, which means an expensive asset showing no return.
    Costs (not tuition costs, per student operating costs) are mainly driven by an endless supply of money combined with a college trying to be the very best at something. If you found out the government would give your customers however much money they needed to pay for your product, no questions asked, do you think you might take advantage of that? You'd be building palaces for your customers too.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steeeeve View Post
    This is an interesting conversation but I can't help but feel we are putting the cart before the horse. Fixing Higher Education is important but it's a lot better off than K-12 education. I really think before you can fix anything with Higher Education you gotta start giving illiterate people high school diplomas.
    I cannot disagree with that at all. I also don't think there is a damn thing we can do as a society to fix it. I have been looking at that problem for years and frankly I have concluded that it comes down to bad parents and that is not something we can come up with a policy or a spending program to fix. When I was on the school board we would have done ANYTHING to help those kids get a leg up. If somebody had come to us and made an argument that a certain child would learn better in a hot air balloon, we would have started working on how to get that balloon and get the kid in it.

    The reality is, though, that nothing we did mattered. Not even a little bit. At the end of the day no matter how many millions of dollars we spent, and how many thousands of volunteer hours were offered, if the kid went home and mommy and daddy just didn't give a $hit, they were going to fail. I used to sit in on a lot of meetings between parents and faculty because I was honestly trying to figure out what we needed to do to help those kids. You would have a kid who had not turned in a homework assignment all year, who was sent to the principals office on a daily basis because they could not behave and mommy and daddy yuppie scumbag would have the nerve to come in to see the principal and be absolutely IRATE about how the school had failed their precious little angel.


    You mean % of students who donate the university is not a good indicator of school performance? Student satisfaction and results (other than graduation and retention rate) are not part of the ratings. They aren't even part of the accreditation process.

    If you look at the various rankings and what goes into them it becomes apparent that the measures of success in Higher Education have led us to where we are today. At first glance things like "what your peers think of you" and "faculty resources" seem like a good measure of how a university but the reality doesn't show that. I think we can both agree that the main purpose the public sees for a university is to prepare people for advanced jobs. You'd could argue (as I would) that we do need a few folks to be "intellectual thinkers" but by in large we just need advanced training. With that said,
    I am just starting to look into both ranking and accreditation criteria. The more I look, the more I wonder if this is somebodies idea of a practical joke.

    I agree with you on the "advanced training" thing. Sadly our entire educational system including universities are basically working on a 500 year old model. Historically, very few people went to college and they were being groomed to be statesmen or to take over the family monopoly. The idea was to give them a well rounded education including a good cultural education. That is not what we need anymore, and colleges are failing miserably at that anyway.

    At private schools it's a huge % donated unless the school is not well known. If that's the case they tend to build cheap buildings anyway. For publics, classrooms are taxpayer funded but are rarely built. Dorms are "revenue bonds" meaning they are paid for by the students who stay in them. Surprisingly, occupancy has never been a problem as most universities. Research buildings and stadiums tend to get a lot of donations. Other specialty buildings do as well. Finally, many bigger or well known schools tend to get the one really rich guy to fund a "college" which is why you have the John Doe School of Business. They tend to pay for the buildings and numerous professorships.

    As for the operating cost, yeah, they factor it in but no one is turning down $50 million for a pretty new Performing Arts Center...because, you know, what would K-State do without a Performing Arts Center?

    Colleges tend to copy each other in a never ending arms race. It probably drives costs a little bit but more importantly it gets away from the focus of a university. That's why in Virginia when one school got a "Performing Arts Center" they all had to.
    In this regard it seems like colleges are almost run like the government. Empty rooms, or rooms that are only used 35% of the time are fine!! A 9000 sq ft government building that consists of 6500 sq ft of (impressive looking) hallways and mezzanines is perfectly acceptable!

    From a purely business standpoint it is insane. YES, I would turn down $50 million for a performing arts center if after considering total cost of ownership it would not pay for itself. A "free" $50 million performing arts center that will not pay for itself is not a free $50 million performing arts center at all....it is a LOSS.

    Yeah, telecommunications is something I don't understand. We have private companies build the cars but public money pays for the roads, we have private companies build and operate the airplane but a public authority maintains the airport; so why do we have private companies building the infrastructure and offering the service? It only mildly works...and even then only in highly populated areas. WSJ had an article the other day saying inner-city school kids basically do homework at McDonalds because it provides free high speed internet. I'm not sure that makes any sense.
    Way back in 1906 the federal government wanted to roll out a national telephone system. They decided that a single system with a single operator would be best and intended to start building one. AT&T convinced them that they would be WAY better off letting AT&T build and operate the system, and all they asked for in return was a complete monopoly on the US telephone system, massive tax breaks, and massive subsidies. In return they agreed to provide universal service, live with limited profits, and good phone service with timely infrastructure upgrades. The day after the deal was made they decided that "universal service" actually meant "the entire network would be connected" as opposed to "anybody who wants service will be able to get it".

    Basically the way it ended up working out the US government ended up paying for any phone lines that were not inside city limits. They meant for it to cover the cost of installing phone lines in rural households. AT&T used it to install all their trunk lines (their network backbone). The US government has paid for every single trunk line in this country since 1906 either through direct subsidies or through special taxes (i.e universal service fund). Even today the federal government is paying for all phone line installations outside of city limits.

    In 1984 under Reagan AT&T was broken up into the baby bells. In 1996 under Clinton they were deregulated because the free market wackos insisted that the market was going to give us a better system. What happened instead was that the baby bells all merged back together (except for verizon) and WHAM, we have AT&T back!! Oh...but without that pesky "low profits" thing or that silly provision that somebody keep the network upgraded so our telecom network, which I don't think anybody will argue is not critical infrastructure, is managed and upgraded based solely on what is most profitable for the phone companies without any regard for what is best for America. The american people like it that way because apparently if you give a company billions of dollars and massive tax breaks that is CAPITALISM. If you expect something in return that is SOCIALISM.

    So now they charge big bucks to hook your internet into the backbone that the taxpayer paid for.

    Oh, and AT&T is the second biggest political contributor in the US.

    There is some chance of some of this changing, though. The FCC is still looking at the whitespace initiative, which would provide free nationwide wifi in all metropolitan areas and many rural areas. That proposal has been floating since 2004. Of course wireless carriers hate the idea since it would pretty much end their business (the free wireless would allow free voip). The project was more or less DOA until recently when google and microsoft threw their full weight behind it. Suddenly it is back in committee at the FCC after being ignored for year. I think it will be hard for them to ignore it like they have in the past...or at least do so without consequences...since google has the ability to reach 70% of Americans on a weekly basis and has much higher approval ratings than anybody in government.

    Frankly the fact that so many companies oppose it so strenuously should indicate to a person of average intelligence that it is probably something that would be REALLY good for consumers. The republicans, showing once again that they have sold out completely, strongly oppose the idea. They say that we should auction the spectrum the FCC propose using for the project because a few billion extra dollars in the treasury now (some estimates say as much as $20 billion) would TOTALLY be more advantageous in the long run than nationwide unlimited broadband.

    Their last argument was that it would be too complex, despite the fact that pretty much all the experts said differently. Now Microsoft has announced the deployment of a white space network in Kenya using solar powered base stations. That pretty much forces the end of the "too complex" argument. I mean...if they can pull it off in kenya it is hard to imagine we cannot do it in the US.

    Oh....and tonight when you are going to bed thinking about all the reasons that the US is #1, you might keep in mind that Kenya has better internet access than us.....just sayin......


    Two things; 1) your schools don't want a higher student teacher ratio and 2) the more students you have the less the class can be. Like I suggested earlier, when you get into large class sizes you have to go to multiple choice tests because it isn't possible to grade that many papers. A good teacher spends roughly 30minutes to an hour grading one paper.
    Seriously??? Professors grade papers at your school? When I was in college they were mostly all graded by TA's.

    The student/teacher ratio thing is a ratings thing from what I can tell. We need to change the ratings system. Soon.

    Pfff, classrooms are rarely built and the ones that are built generally are specialty. Virginia Tech, for example, just recently built a new dining hall with 6 or 8 classrooms in it. They only included those so the state would pay for part of it...they really just wanted the new dining area.

    Classroom space utilization various in Virginia but is generally around 30-38 hours a week. This means that a given classroom at a school in Virginia has at least 1 student being taught in it for 30-38 hours a week. In theory, a school could run 7 days a week from 8-8 with 15 min gaps for class change basically giving you 70 hours a week you could use the space. Even had 5 days a week that is 50 hours. Universities tend to hold fewer and fewer classes on Friday which is why this number is continuously dropping.

    So no, classrooms are not the problem and universities aren't even building them. What universities are building are dorms, athletic facilities, other auxiliary buildings, lots of infrastructure (parking decks, heating plants, etc), research buildings, and support buildings (student centers). The infrastructure is badly needed so I have no problem with that. The dorms, athletic facilities, and other auxiliaries cost the taxpayer nothing. Most are paid for by donors anyway (not dorms). Dorms ARE a problem...they are luxury dorms these days. The theory is they attract better students. I told one school they should spend 50 million to make the dorms worse. When I was in school after 2 months in the dorm I got a job and started looking for an apartment. I'm a better man for it. Nothing like giving kids a false sense of entitlement for 4 years and then throwing them into reality with a bill for the party.

    As someone once told me "the problem is college's make it summer camp when it should be boot camp".
    That is part of the "luxury dorm" problem. I don't know about your school but here in Ks I know at least 2 of the universities require that freshman live in the dorms. With living in the dorms comes a meal ticket to make sure they get fed. I never lived in a dorm (got a waiver my freshman year). Apparently they have the "live in dorm and buy a meal card" requirement because the incoming freshmen are not bright enough to keep themselves fed and housed. I am with you 100% when it comes to what dorm rooms should be. Monks cells. Better yet, do away with the dorms. Trust me on this, better students are the ones who can figure out how to house and feed themselves.

    Costs (not tuition costs, per student operating costs) are mainly driven by an endless supply of money combined with a college trying to be the very best at something. If you found out the government would give your customers however much money they needed to pay for your product, no questions asked, do you think you might take advantage of that? You'd be building palaces for your customers too.
    Yes I would, and I see your point.

    I do kind of have to wonder if maybe colleges are working too hard chasing rankings. I can honestly say the only ratings I can remember a college kid talking about were party school ratings. I can also tell you that in the business world, nobody really knows or cares how USNWR ranks schools. Typically in the business world people have an idea (right or wrong) of how good various schools are and they just go with that. That is why you cant hire somebody from DeVry, even though I am sure if they are ranked at all it is terrible. We in the business world, though, know that their people are top notch, so they get hired. I know that the University of Phoenix (yep, the online folks) are a joke in the academic world, but Boeing and Sprint both classify them as a tier 1 school for hiring purposes. That is right up there with Harvard. I dont know about Sprint, but I know Boeing does it because they have found that people who can make it through the unstructured program are FAR better than the folks who make it through the 4 year extension of high school that most Universities offer. The guy I know at Boeing who was telling me about it said that he knows that most fortune 500 companies view a university of phoenix degree very favorably. He was giving me hiring advice at the time, much as you did when you suggested I hire kids who had spent some time at community colleges. Your advice turned out to be very good. I am not sure about his yet...have not had anybody apply with a university of phoenix degree.

    Maybe that kind of thing is what will change (or end) the silly ranking system we have now. I am dead serious when I say that guys from MIT get passed over for jobs in favor of guys from DeVry. Guys from DeVry are ALWAYS useful human beings. Guys from MIT are kind of hit and miss.

    I do think that we are coming to the point that something needs to be done and something WILL be done about this whether the colleges like it or not. With 40% of college graduates in this country either unemployed or underemployed I think there is already the political will to force changes and it is just going to keep getting worse. For recent college graduates (graduated in the last 5 years) that number is 60%. You and I both know those people have a shelf life problem. If you have not worked in the field your degree is in for the last decade, you may as well have not gotten it. I know your job is a little different since accounting is a field where a degree is absolutely required, but for the most part it is unusual for somebody over 30 or 35 to even include an "education" section on their resume unless they have gone back to school within the last 3 or 4 years to upgrade their degree (or finish one). The fact is that by the time you have been in the workforce for a decade you should be able to fill a resume with relevant experience and accomplishments. If you have to pad it with a section telling an employer about your high school, your resume is probably going to the bottom of the stack.

    That being the case, you are talking about a whole bunch of people who spent a whole bunch of money to basically get a whole bunch of nothing. They are not going to be real sympathetic to ideas that involve getting more money to colleges in any form. They are likely to be receptive to pretty much any hair brained idea that gets floated to drop college costs.
    If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. —Samuel Adams

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