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Udacity Pearson Partnership - Sell-Out, Buy-In or the Future of MOOCs?
The recently announced partnership of Udacity with Pearson VUE testing centers has caused quite a stir in Higher Education community. I have read opinions that range from sell-out to a possible new legitimacy for the open university or MOOC movement.
Let’s have a look at the different facets of this new partnership and what might be some of its consequences or even benefits in the long term. Udacity calls itself a virtual university on a mission to democratize education. It first made the news when Udacity founder and Google employee Sebastian Thrun famously quit teaching at Stanford to now teach the world instead of some 200 students only. As Udacity state on their blog, they will still continue to create free online courses, but the Pearson partnership will allow students who wish to take an exam at the end of the course do exactly that.
The testing environment has been created to show “academic honesty” and will most likely give students an edge over their peers in Udacity’s job placement program. The exam itself is a multiple-choice and short answer mix of 90 min. Interestingly, the virtual university’s wildly popular programming class is not included in the new exam option. At least not now.
At this point, I see it as a logical move for Udacity. It builds trust, particularly on the employer side and allows students to show off what they’ve learned and have “proof” of it. Of course, Udacity could have taken another, more practical approach with employers, letting students demonstrate their skills upon real problem given to them. But calling themselves a virtual university, it is maybe not a bad move to go for something more traditional.
Pearson’s advantages are quite obvious. You may criticize this 800-pound gorilla in the education space for many things, but not for missing opportunities. Over the past few years Pearson has proven that the company knows very well what’s going on in online education and that’s true for both K12 and Higher Ed. I have written quite a bit on partnerships and also acquisitions and their impact on the online education landscape on this blog and also my personal blog. Let’s face it, Pearson is and will be present where the next disruption in the education market is going to happen. Whether we like it or not, or as my co-host on ENT like to put it, Pearson is like shopping at Walmart. It makes us feel bad, but everybody does it.
Besides, the exams offered on Udacity will take place in the some 4000 Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide and are not free, talking the economics of education here.
What might be the impact of this partnership? Top universities like Stanford or Harvard won’t have to worry. This partnership and a 90 min exam will not question expensive but high quality teaching and degrees or even make them look bad. We’re still some years away from the scenario of a skill-based society where what you know if you can prove it means more than a degree from a top tier university. We might come closer though.
The ones who really have a reason to be worried are the smaller or average, if you want to call them like that, universities and colleges. If we now start seeing more and more of the top professors, like Udacity or Coursera bring their courses online and teach the world for free, where is the incentive to study at an average college or university and pay tuition fees?
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.