$20 billion in ed funding slashed from student aid legislation

Funding for an online course program was cut out of the final student aid bill.
$500 million in proposed funding to create open online courses was cut out of the final student aid bill.

In last-minute maneuvering designed to get the measure to pass, lawmakers eliminated $20 billion in proposed education funding from the student aid overhaul enacted by Congress last week—dampening enthusiasm for legislation that K-12 and higher-education officials had lobbied for over the past year. Of that $20 billion, $12 billion was slated for community colleges to boost graduation rates, partly through the development of open online courses, and $8 billion was pegged for an early-childhood education program.

Community college officials cheered the American Graduation Initiative (AGI) when lawmakers introduced the program last fall, but last-minute compromises and worries over the cost of the student aid bill forced legislators to eliminate the $12 billion set aside for AGI, observers said. The program aimed to help community colleges produce 5 million more graduates over the next decade.

AGI had included $500 million for an online skills laboratory modeled after Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI). The free, open internet classes were to be created by the Departments of Defense, Education, and Labor, according to a White House announcement.…Read More

Open courseware as a viable business model?

Open courseware with online video lectures cost the most to make available on the web.
Open courseware that incorporates video lectures costs the most to make available on the web.

Open courseware isn’t the end of higher education, as some have feared, but rather a recruiting tool that can lure people to enroll in credit-bearing classes, according to a Brigham Young University (BYU) study released last month.

The study, conducted by BYU’s Director of Independent Study Justin Johansen, examined the costs of making college course material available for free online, and how many enrollments resulted from having open courses available on a university’s web site.

The university has six open classes—three college-level and three high school courses—that drew almost 14,000 web page visits over a four-month span, generating 445 paid enrollments at BYU.…Read More

What Bill Gates is learning online

Bill Gates' new web site reveals his thoughts on open courseware, school reform, and more.
Bill Gates' new web site reveals his thoughts on open courseware, school reform, and more.

It’s no surprise, really, but it turns out Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates is a strong supporter of the open-courseware movement that has swept through higher education in the last few years.

On a new web site that Gates launched this past week, he discusses some of his favorite sources for online lectures and other learning materials. He also offers his thoughts on education reform and a host of other topics.

“There are some great examples of how technology can enable almost anyone to learn from the world’s greatest minds,” he posted to GatesNotes.com.…Read More