Tag Archives: Education

Minnesota Coursera ban: State won’t crack down on free online courses after all.

Remember that article I pointed to yesterday about Minnesota not allowing unauthorized free online courses? One of Dan’s readers noted this article: Minnesota Coursera ban: State won’t crack down on free online courses after all. It looks like the good people of Minnesota can get a free education there without breaking the law after all.

URL: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/19/minnesota_coursera_ban_state_won_t_crack_down_on_free_online_courses_after.html

Minnesota bans Coursera: State takes bold stand against free education.

Dan brings this to my attention, Minnesota is not allowing Universities, Colleges or other degree granting institutions to offer their residents free online classes unless they first jump through a few hoops and pay a registration fee.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the state has decided to crack down on free education, notifying California-based startup Coursera that it is not allowed to offer its online courses to the state’s residents. Coursera, founded by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, partners with top-tier universities around the world to offer certain classes online for free to anyone who wants to take them. You know, unless they happen to be from Minnesota.

via Minnesota bans Coursera: State takes bold stand against free education..

It seems that the state of Minnesota wants the degree granting institutions to be approved by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education first so that Minnesota residents can be assured they aren’t wasting their time. When pointed out that the classes were free George Roedler, manager of institutional registration and licensing at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, stated, “We don’t want them wasting their time either.” However Facebook and WoW seems to not be a concern on that part.

URL: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/18/minnesota_bans_coursera_state_takes_bold_stand_against_free_education.html

The importance of stupidity in scientific research

Dan passed along this article and I think it is something that every educator and every student ought to be required to read. This is why it is important to be allowed to fail and important to encourage people to continue trying when they do fail.

I remember the day when Henry Taube (who won the Nobel Prize two years later) told me he didn’t know how to solve the problem I was having in his area. I was a third-year graduate student and I figured that Taube knew about 1000 times more than I did (conservative estimate). If he didn’t have the answer, nobody did.

That’s when it hit me: nobody did. That’s why it was a research problem. And being my research problem, it was up to me to solve. Once I faced that fact, I solved the problem in a couple of days. (It wasn’t really very hard; I just had to try a few things.) The crucial lesson was that the scope of things I didn’t know wasn’t merely vast; it was, for all practical purposes, infinite. That realization, instead of being discouraging, was liberating. If our ignorance is infinite, the only possible course of action is to muddle through as best we can.

via The importance of stupidity in scientific research.

When I was taking programming classes in college I would write programs watch them fail, figure out why they failed and after a dozen attempt succeed. There was a young lady in my introductory class who would spend a little more time up front fully understanding the problem than I did, write her program, watch it run and turn it in. She did this for half of the class and it use to really irritate me.

The programs we were assigned continued to get more complex each week until one day she did all her prep work, wrote her program and ….. it failed. At first  I smiled because mine had run properly on the second iteration but then I realized she was in a real pickle because her successes had never prepared her for this failure and she had not developed the skills she needed to debug the program and understand why it broke.

I do think that education looks too hard at success on a test as being a good measure of learning. Personally, I think maybe failure on a test with a subsequent success might be the better path. How can one learn if one doesn’t first know what one doesn’t know?