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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Buying The College Experience Direct From The Professor

December 14, 2012, 10:30 AM

What's the Latest Development?

StraighterLine, a company that has been offering low-cost accredited online courses since 2008, recently unveiled Professor Direct, a new feature that gives professors the ability to sell their courses directly to students. In addition to the cost of the class, they can also sell services, such as online office hours and grading extra assignments, separately. Most of the professors offering their courses are adjuncts who teach both online and in-person all over the US. On Wednesday, StraighterLine's core general ed curricula received an A grade from an independent evaluation group.

What's the Big Idea?

Adjunct professors currently make up over two-thirds of faculty members in two- and four-year colleges nationwide. For the same average pay given by a community college for a course, a professor can teach a class of 10-20 online students via Professor Direct. StraighterLine founder Burck Smith says that his company and others are raising awareness about the economics of higher education. "Both students and policymakers [are aware] that online courses can be offered outside the accrediting environment at 50% to 90% cheaper than colleges are doing themselves."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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