Degree of disruption – MOOCs change how people earn degrees

Recently, I heard about an event at a business school, where MOOCs were discussed. The person I spoke with had attended this – closed – event, and mentioned how the experts had come to the conclusion that currently business schools and their degrees (yes, indeed: MBA) were not really threatened by MOOCs, and that no-one was yet giving out MOOC-based degrees. Oh, and no, it certainly wasn’t going to be the higher education world that was going to disrupt this status quo. The disruptions was going to come from the outside. The tone struck me as if they had added something like “in the distant future”.

Well, I couldn’t agree less. Currently, it seems there is still a big gap between the free education offered through MOOCs, and getting a tangible, old-fashioned (and in many cases expensive) diploma, with the right to call yourself MBA, or MSc. or any other hard-earned title. Don’t get me wrong: if you do the work, you deserve to show it off. But, what is already changing, is that MOOCs are becoming part of that work load.
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Use MOOCs to pick the right school

September has just started, and in many countries, that means schools have started, too. For everybody who has the fortune to attend school, that is, but especially for those who are in their final year of secondary education, and are looking ahead to the next step. For many students, and their parents, this year will be about choosing which college or university to go to or apply for.

Picking the right school to go to, is not the easiest task. There are many factors that can play a role: family tradition, vicinity, place in rankings, job perspective, topics offered and so on. Many, if not all of these, are based on the opinion of others about these school. Maybe the parents have attended themselves, so they have a certain experience and inside knowledge, but much can change between their school years, and next year.
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What is really so disruptive about MOOCs?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are getting quite the attention. Through platforms like Coursera, edX and Iversity, top class academic institutions are delivering their education for free. And they indeed have massive enrollment. So, it’s no wonder that MOOCs have been billed as disruptors of higher education. They’re opening up higher education to the masses.

However, there has been some critiques. Those showing up are mostly the already educated, and only relatively few complete the courses. Another critique is that some MOOCs are simply putting the off-line courses online. But, it’s still early days. MOOC providers – platforms and schools – are still learning how to best utilize this phenomenon.
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Guys should step up, and be feminists, too

Last week, Emma Watson appealed to guys to stand up for equal rights. It was a great and empathic speech in which she did that, and I was, and am, inspired. Seriously, what kind of world do I let my son grow up in, where people do not have the same rights when they are born in a certain place, in a certain gender, in a certain ethnic group or grow up to have a certain sexual orientation, religious belief system or whatever factor you can use to distinguish one person from another. Gender is just one of those factor, but maybe the biggest one. It’s the one factor that roughly splits humanity in two. Tackling this is the best first step we can take.

As a parent, I’m really astonished how early a child gets confronted with gender stereotyping. Apart from the blue and pink clothes, for me one of the most present ways are those little pictograms used in public places. Okay, I’m really fine with a different restroom for women and men. I appreciate how that’s both practical and comfortable. But what about the rooms where you can change your child’s diaper. Why on earth is that so often indicated by a pictogram indicating a mother and a child? It’s not only gender stereotyping, it’s teaching children from the very beginning that caring for a child is a mother’s role. How can we expect them to appreciate the need for equal rights, if their dads are apparently not even supposed to change their diapers?


Follow Arjan’s board MeforShe – dads are stepping up on Pinterest.

Another example I recently came across, were a few priority seats in an airport terminal. They were located closest to the gate, reserved for mothers and their children. Again, this shows that only mothers are supposed to have the need to sit down with their children in a crowded airport to calm them down, feed them or just let them rest a bit. Fathers are not even supposed to be near them.

There are more examples like these. Much more. Maybe it’s not the most striking set of examples of how we can achieve equal rights, but I believe it’s one that counts and can easily be addressed.

It’s like I wrote earlier: dads should not do the dishes more often, dads should be more present in the lives of their children. And society, for example through the use of pictograms, should support them in that, embrace their presence, and not time and again ridicule it, or exclude dads from parenting.

Stepping up is easy to do. It starts by going to the HeforShe website, and take the HeforShe commitment.

What would Baudolino do with social media

Reliquary for the 3 Magi
Reliquary for the skulls of the three Magi in the Kölner Dom

Baudolino, the main character in a book by Umberto Eco, lived in the 12th century; a time in which Europe was in turmoil. A very exciting time. From a modest background, he managed to climb up to become a trusted advisor to the emperor Frederick Barbarossa. One of his main feats in the book, is to legitimize the rule of Barbarossa by creating a relic that proves the connection between the emperor and Jesus. This was a very important accomplishment in these days.

But, Baudolino would not have liked to be seen as a forger of artefacts. In fact, in our current world he would be a political advisor, maybe a spin doctor. His main trade would be to legitimize rulers. He would likely not turn to fabricating relics anymore. With wikipedia and google, it’s easy to find out more about the provenance of such a relic. It would simply not be worth his while. No, he would turn to social media.
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Challenge the status quo: we need a new image of success and dads

TEDxBerlin stage

Let me start by making one thing clear: I’m a big fan of equality and equal opportunities. People, no matter their gender, race, (sexual) preferences, religion or whatever trait makes them distinguishable from another person, have a right to live, love and be happy. Period.

Now, this would make a very short blog post, and not more than a statement of the to me obvious. And, I can already reveal, this will be not a short blog post. Today, I saw a talk at TEDxBerlin which triggered this post. The talk was about mothers and work-life balance – to reduce it to the most simple explanation. Now, this talk was based on extensive research, and the speaker did her work very well. Only, she based it on false propositions. Basically, and again reducing this respected work to its simplest incarnation, the message was that it is unfair that women have to give up their career when a couple becomes parents, and that this should change.
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Is nobody perfect, or are our expectations distorted?

Nobody’s perfect. You can hear people say it, often to excuse another person, or themselves, for doing something ‘wrong’. And it seems so true: nobody can do everything. Or be everything. But, that’s inherent to being human. So, I would argue that the fact that we humans can’t do everything, is exactly what makes us perfect. All of us.
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Active citizenship and mobility – Alberto Alemanno in European Portraits

Alberto Alemanno teaches about Europe

Screenshot from the MOOC Understanding Europe

In his MOOC Understanding Europe, Alberto Alemanno shows how you unlock knowledge for the masses. He presented it with energising flair, and made the complex matter of how the European Union works very easily understandable. I took the course, and admired also the way he graciously embraced even the most vitriolic contributions on the discussion forums. But Alberto Alemanno is more than a professor of MOOCs from HEC, he’s a public interest lawyer, a civic activist, a European, and another person from the 40 under 40 Young European Leaders to share his thoughts here. I’m honoured!

What does the EU mean to you?
Europe is the space where I was born, grew up and live my life. Europe is therefore part of my identity. Europe is also the object of my work, the space in which I think and where my work and ideas are expected to have an impact. Europe is therefore part of my daily life and possibly future life. Finally, the EU is the public authority that – like most of the EU citizens – I trust the most and from which I expect good policies improving my life and that of my family, friends and society as a whole.
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Europese verkiezingen: een stemadvies na #DeStemming

image

In het programma Nederland Kiest werden een aantal dingen duidelijk over wat Europa nu eigenlijk voor Nederland betekent en kan betekenen. Mijn conclusie: lid zijn van de EU is goed voor Nederland. Stem dus op een partij die voor meer Europa is.

Waar baseer ik dat op? Wel, op het volgende:
EU lidmaatschap levert Nederland geld op. De directe netto kosten komen neer op 235 Euro per huishouden per jaar. Maar het voordeel dat Nederland haalt door handel met EU landen levert een maandsalaris op. Dit kan je vergelijken met 10 Euro contributie betalen aan een club, zodat je 100 Euro extra kunt verdienen. Lijkt me een goede besteding van 10 Euro. Kan je natuurlijk ook in je zak houden en er patat van kopen. Maar als dat op is, wat dan?

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An extension of home – Stephan Okhuijsen in European Portraits

Stephan Okhuijsen, with his greenhouse in the background

Stephan Okhuijsen, with his greenhouse in the background

What does the EU mean to you?
It means I feel connected to the countries around me and the people living there. That I find it normal to ride over a thousand miles and still pay with euro’s. That I know that countries in Europe will quarrel but not fight. And that somehow we try to strive to a better future for all of us.
And it feels a bit like an extension of home.
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