A Top College Is Offering Free Online Credit Toward a Degree
This could really revolutionize higher education.
For its latest experiment, the prestigious and forward-thinking MIT is bringing learning into the 21st century. The school has introduced a program where students can work toward obtaining their Master’s degree online, for the low, low price of... free. Currently only available in the Supply Chain Management program, it allows students to receive credit for the first semester of study online, where they obtain a “Micro Master’s” and can then apply for acceptance to the on-campus Master’s program.
This is a mutually beneficial opportunity for students and MIT — students can take for-credit classes for free, and the university has a wider range of students to choose from. The university has another advantage: It can see how well students perform in the program before actually admitting them. Digitizing education is nothing new for MIT, whose MITx allows anyone with an internet connection to watch lectures and interact with discussions. It’s all part of the bigger trend of MOOCS (Massive Online Open Courses), which many top-tier universities are implementing (via platforms like edX) as a way to make education more accessible. But taking a class online isn’t the same as taking one in person, and it presents a bigger question surrounding what education is and what we want out of it.
When MOOCS first came on the scene, they were heralded as the great democratizer of education, bringing information out of the Ivy towers and in the hands of the people. Allowing everyone to have access to the same information is a wonderful and empowering thing, but college education isn’t just about procuring information. In my experience, being in a classroom and being forced to listen to other people’s opinions and also having to defend my own, was as much a part of learning as digesting content. Even if MOOCS introduce innovative ways to interact with the physical or virtual classroom, it’s not a replacement for being physically present. The MIT idea works because it’s for a Master’s program, so students have already been through more traditional education. They have learned critical-thinking skills, which help make sense of the information and content they are given in a class. Without critical thinking, information has no context and is thus significantly less useful. MOOCS aren’t a replacement for undergraduate education, but I’m interested to see how they might enhance it.
How education will respond to a culture that is switching from analog to digital, and if the MIT Micro Master’s become a new and more common alternative remains to be seen. But education isn’t immune to the laws of evolution, and it must change as we undergo this worldwide cultural shift. While I think it’s not a good idea to replace physical universities with digital ones, there is certainly a middle ground, and both worlds have a lot to learn from each other. Or maybe 10 years from now we’ll all graduate from Mooninite University with Micro Master’s we’ve received telepathically. Either way, the revolution will not be televised (but it will be streaming on edX.)
Lori Chandler is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, NY, which is the most unoriginal sentence she has ever written. You can look at her silly drawings on Tumblr, Rad Drawings, or read her silly tweets @LilBoodleChild. Enough about her, she says: how are you?
Pedestrians cross the street in front of the William Barton Rogers Building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founded in 1861, is traditionally known for its research and education in the physical sciences and engineering, and more recently in biology, economics, linguistics, and management as well. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.
In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.
Image from the study.
As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.
Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.
"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.
It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.
Image by authors of the study.
Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.
The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.
“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.