Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Can Online Courses Reduce the Cost of a College Education?

Credit bearing, online courses have the potential of reducing the cost of a college education. They may even be superior to in-class instruction. Courses can be designed and implemented by the best instructors available and be continually tweaked and revised. Courseware would be saved electronically and played repeatedly over time via the internet to successive groups of matriculated students. Unlike, in-class lectures, a student should be able to repeat online instruction repeatedly.
Costs savings occur because colleges will not have to compensate instructors for in-class instruction each semester. State run colleges are more likely to pass on these savings to students. Private, for profit schools may see this as an opportunity in increase their bottom line.
Instructors that design and implement these courses should receive compensation for their efforts plus royalties each time their course is taken. The sum of these royalties should be substantially less than what would be earned if taught in-class. This system would be comparable to the royalties earned by authors of textbooks. Exams should be taken in college classrooms monitored by proctors. Tests can be administered and scored via computers. However, essay type exams would have to be scored by those knowledgeable in the areas being evaluated. Economies of online instruction should be realized over a period of time.
Online instruction would probably be most suited for content heavy subjects like, science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), economics, history, etc. Lab work required in some courses would be done on site. Courses in the fine arts, literature, the theater, physical education and others where participation is emphasized would be less amenable to online instruction.
Implementing online instruction would probably not be welcome by all. Some students might need or prefer the person-to-person interaction with teachers. Preferably, they should have the option of online education or in class instruction or a combination of the two. Many instructors would resist the expected reduction in employment. In the final analysis, we must ask ourselves if a reduction in the cost of education is worth the negatives brought on by this system of education. In the long run, students may decide.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I have recently purchased the Samsung Chromebook, a laptop that runs on the Google Chrome Operating System. I was most impressed with its performance. Finding a computer for use in K-12 schools at a reasonable price has always been my goal. At only $249, the Chromebook realizes this objective. Products from Apple and Windows systems have been way too high if we expect to provide one computer per student. Also, students do not need the power that these systems provide.
The Chromebook has many other cost saving advantages: Word processing, spreadsheet, and slide presentation software is included as is continually upgraded virus checking. Many other applications (apps) are free or available at low cost. Also included is internet access and free online storage.
I was pleased with the fast boot up time and the responsiveness of its qwerty keyboard. I was able to use this computer for about six hours on a charge. Weighing only 2.43 pounds, it is ideal for even elementary school students. Below is a list of specifications for the Samsung Chromebook.
Some school systems have already purchased large quantities of this computer. As a retired educator and computer coordinator, I can recommend this system to any K-12 school system. We finally have a low cost computer that can meet all the needs of K-12 students and even many adults. Thank you Goggle and Samsung!

Hardware specs
Model Number: XE303C12
Display Size: 11.6-inches
Display: 1366x768 resolution; 200nit brightness
Weight: 2.43 lbs (1.1.kg)
Less than 0.8 inches thick (17.5 mm)
Battery Life: over 6.5 hours
Processor: Samsung Exynos 5250
Memory: 2GB
Storage: 16GB SSD (Google is including 100GB free online storage)
Webcam
Ports: 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, combo headphone/mic jack, secure digital memory slot
HDMI Port
Bluetooth 3.0™ Compatible
Speaker: 1.5W speaker X 2
Keyboard: Full-size Chrome keyboard
Wireless: 802.11 abg/n 2x2
MSRP: $249 USD / 229 GBP