A Gust of Wind Blows Across HE…
From various sources (@kavubob, @mweller via @peter_scott, @downes and others), I notice:
- edX Announces Option Of Proctored Exam Testing Through Collaboration With Pearson VUE [press release], reported as e.g. Harvard and MIT online courses get ‘real world’ exams. The core of the story is that Pearson VUE test centres will be used to run “proctored” computer based assessments (i.e. supervised assessment of verified candidates) based around edX courses. (It’s maybe also worth noting that Pearson VUE bought the Centiport assessment business earlier this year so they’re expansionist…)
- a Chronicle of HE article reports A First for Udacity: a U.S. University Will Accept Transfer Credit for One of Its Courses, (original Udacity blog post/press release). In particular, Colorado State University’s Global Campus will accept proctored assessment credit as part of a credit transfer agreement. There’s nothing particularly new in this – as with many institutions, OU students can benefit from credit transfer as well as the accreditation of prior learning (APEL) using a variety of course wrappers, such as Make your experience count or the Accreditation of Certificated Practitioners 1 (i.e an academic course wrapper for vendor certificate that helps you convert vendor certificates to academic credit points; hmm… I wonder if these are then transferable in to other UK HEIs?!;-). What I was sensitised to however, was this: “In order to earn the three transfer credits toward their bachelor’s degrees at Colorado State, students will need a “certificate of accomplishment” from Udacity showing they passed the course. Then they have to pass a proctored examination offered by Udacity through a secure testing center. The exam, administered by the Pearson VUE testing group, will cost $89″ [emphasis mine]. As I hinted at in News Corp in K12 Education Play, as the big publishing companies develop a stranglehold over education content, assessment proctering, and assessment setting, should we start thinking about notions of plurality (cf. media plurality) in the way the business of education operates?
A couple more riffs on the above:
- Pearson are playing multiple sides, offering testing for both the upstarts (eg Udacity) and the incumbents’ response (edX). They also have a major stake in school (i.e. K12) and further education content (textbooks, curricula) and assessment (e.g. EdExcel is a Pearson company), and they seem to be testing the waters with their own HE offerings in the form of Pearson College. Start to twitch a bit more if they start offering campus management solutions. Also look out for them bulking up their learning analytics offerings…
- Although the OU has started offering academic wrappers around imported vendor certificates, I don’t think an equivalent course wrapper yet serves as a way of wrapping informal and semi-formal online courses, such as offerings from P2PU, Coursera, Udacity etc etc. There is at least one “officially” offered MOOC on “Learning Design”, though… (One of the models I wanted to explore with the T151 Game Design and Development 10 point short course in its final presentation was a fully open presentation with an additional for credit component based around the submission of a portfolio for credit bearing assessment. The legacy would have been a 10 point wrapper for importing informal online course activity, “proven” using an OU presented course. Maybe there’ll be a similar sort of finesse around the Learning Design MOOC? I’d certainly hope so…
- I note that the OU runs exams at a wide variety of examination centres (often in local colleges), so to an extent the OU already models the behaviour being adopted by edX. There are, however, a couple of notable differences: a) the OU, rather than a commercial operation such as Pearson, manages exams at local centres; b) the OU offers tutor and/or moderated forum based support to students on OU courses. Providing tutor/associate lecturer support (including face to face tutorials at local centres) to students on a 1:
320 ratio or so is expensive though… I’m not sure how the costs associated with providing online moderation at a ratio of 1:100 or so scale up with increasing course sizes (eg when you factor in recruitment and briefing/training costs, as well as the costs of assessment/marking related moderation exercises etc).
- I should probably say something about badges here, but don’t have the will to!
See also: Checking HE for Cracks.
The University of Sussex is seeking bids to manage its estates and facilities services, which are run in-house at an annual cost of £20 million.
The move, to be completed by August next year, “is expected to bring wider market experience and expertise to the university to enable it to meet the increasing demands of a highly competitive environment”, according to a statement.
The story is still running… Unions left ‘in the dark’ over outsource plans. Companies in the ballpark – Carillion, maybe? eg they appear to have been contractors for construction works at UWE, Hertfordshire.
PPS Facilities talk reminds me of this, which relates in part to management of facilities data: Facilities and Equipment Sharing Network.
PPPS via @brlamb, Pearson ‘Education’ — Who Are These People?, which looks at some of the lobbying going around around US teacher performance assessment.