A college education is worth half a million dollars, says new study

The New York Times has an interesting article pointing out that according to the latest data, going to college is clearly worth the time and money.

For a while now, a lot of discussions on the web and other media have centered around the rising costs of higher education, and the fact that many graduates find it tough to find a job after college, and are stuck with educational loans. However, according to the latest data (in the US), college definitely improves your earnings significantly:

The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else reached a record high last year, according to the new data, which is based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree. That’s up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s.

Why did this have to be said? When calls for students to drop out of college get a lot of press coverage, this can send the wrong message.

Specifically:

When experts and journalists spend so much time talking about the limitations of education, they almost certainly are discouraging some teenagers from going to college and some adults from going back to earn degrees. (Those same experts and journalists are sending their own children to college and often obsessing over which one.) The decision not to attend college for fear that it’s a bad deal is among the most economically irrational decisions anybody could make in 2014.

But what about the fact that the cost of a college education has increased rapidly, and has far outstripped inflation?

It is still a no-contest between the cost of education and the benefits:

The much-discussed cost of college doesn’t change this fact. According to a paper by Mr. Autor published Thursday in the journal Science, the true cost of a college degree is about negative $500,000. That’s right: Over the long run, college is cheaper than free. Not going to college will cost you about half a million dollars.

Read the full article

Of course, all the above data is for the USA. I wonder how different the story would be if similar data existed for India. What do you think?

Pune’s CSIR-URDIP Starts India’s first ever course on PatInformatics (Patent Informatics)

It has been argued that India’s education system creates clerks, not innovators, and as a result, our biggest export is software engineers and software services companies which do what innovators in the US and elsewhere tell them to do. Given that context, a focus on innovation, intellectual property creation, and patents is something that various educators and policy makers in India keep talking about.

Now comes the interesting (can we go so far as to call it heartening?) news that CSIR-URDIP, which is CSIR‘s Pune based Unit for Research and Development of Information Products, has launched India’s first ever Post Graduate Diploma Course on PatInformatics (i.e. Patent Informatics).

What is PatInformatics?

The participants will be introduced to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and the importance of patent information in research and business. The course will basically focus on Patinformatics and its applications which will enable the participants undertake  technology scenario analysis, white space mapping, competitive intelligence study, new product development, patentability, infringement analysis, freedom to operate study, citation analysis, patent valuation etc. This course will thus help participants develop their skills in patent searching and analysis and use this information for research and business planning. Thus the participants, after successful completion of the course will be capable of handling all the IPR related issues independently.

Source

Details about the course:

The course will begin from August 4, 2014. The course will be of one year duration and will be full time. The lectures will be delivered by Scientists at CSIR-URDIP having minimum ten years of experience in the area for Patinformatics. It will consist of four quarters with 12 modules of theory classes and hands-on practical sessions working on databases and analytical tools including daily assignments and projects.

See full course details

Who can apply?

Basically, it is open for Engineering, Science, or Law graduates. The precise requirements are:

Minimum qualification required is a Post Graduate Degree from recognized universities. The candidate should have any one of the following:

  • Masters degree with minimum of 60% marks in any of the life sciences, chemical sciences and physical sciences..
  • M. Pharm. with minimum of 60% marks and GATE qualified
  • B.E ( Min. 60% marks) and GATE qualified
  • L.L.B with Science background ( Min. 60% marks at B.Sc. and L.L.B )
  • M.Lib Sci. with graduation in science ( Min.60% at each degree)

Fees?

  • Application Fees: Rs 1000/ – to be paid in the SBI Power Jyoti account. 50% concession will be provided for SC/ST candidates.
  • Course Fees: Rs. 50,000/- to be paid at the beginning of the course.
  • Number of Seats: 30

For more details, see the PatInformatics Website

Behind Harvard’s explosion of online classes: a flurry of lights, camera, action – Metro – The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe has an interesting article on how Harvard is building a full-fledged production studio to create MOOCs

Excerpt:

They were surrounded not by leather-bound volumes but by a multimillion-dollar production studio and no fewer than five bustling staff members adjusting cameras and microphones and ensuring the scholars made their points clearly.

The production values were taken at least as seriously as the scholarship. As the professors discussed the international impact of the ornate turn-of-the-century Singer sewing machine on display between them, the crew monitored three cameras and debated which lighting source would reflect off Gordon’s glasses or wash out Ulrich’s face.

When Gordon brushed his hand on his lapel, creating a tiny static blip, they filmed a second take. When Ulrich moved a book off the sewing machine’s oak table between takes, they put it back, then filmed her picking it up so the book would not magically disappear in the video.

Quietly, Harvard has built what amounts to an in-house production company to create massive open online courses, or MOOCs, high-end classes that some prestigious universities are offering for free to anyone in the world, generally without formal academic credit. Contrary to the popular image of online classes consisting largely of video from a camera planted at the back of the lecture hall, Harvard is increasingly using mini-documentaries, animation, and interactive software tools to offer a far richer product.

This is a fairly serious undertaking, with a serious budget, and appropriate professionals being hired:

The endeavor, which is called HarvardX and celebrates its second birthday this month, has two video studios, more than 30 employees, and many freelancers — an astonishing constellation of producers, editors, videographers, composers, animators, typographers, and even a performance coach to help professors get comfortable in front of a camera.

HarvardX has made about 30 classes and has some 60 more in the works.

Read the full article for a lot of details, including dissenting opinions, and other interesting tidbits.

Pune-based Online Science/Maths Learning Platform Function Space gets funding

Pune-based Function Space, an online “social” platform for learning science and maths has recently raised seed funding from Nexus Venture Partners.

Function Space is trying to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education fun and engaging, something that is seriously been missing from our education system

Function Space, already offers a strong community consisting of users from over 190 countries, including students, professors and researchers from MIT, Stanford, University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses, Indian Institute of Technology campuses, Indian Institute of Science and other prestigious institutions.

The funding will be used for expansion: of their content, their tools, and their customer reach.

Function Space was founded in 2013 by Adit Gupta, Sakshi Majmudar and Sumit Maniyar.

Read the full article

India needs and education strategy by EduCable : Meeta Sengupta’s blog-The Times Of India

As we get ready for a new government, Meeta Sengupta has an interesting article where she acknowledges the achievements of our Education Policy so far, and charts out the way ahead

Here are some excerpts:

First, it would be graceful to acknowledge what went well, especially in the Education sector. Much was achieved including investments in infrastructure, near universal enrolment at the primary level, acknowledgement of the private sector contribution, the groundwork for the entry of foreign universities to India, the almost universal acceptance of the RTE Act (flawed as it is) and of course the slow but steady entry of technology in education.

and, as for the path forward:

The path forward is known and the structural gaps are identified. There can be nothing better to inherit for a team that knows that actions often speak larger than words. For example – it is acknowledged that Indian universities need to focus on research and international engagement to ride up the global rankings. (I of course advocate a diversified model for post secondary education that does not require all universities to fight for a spot on the same greasy pole). It is also clear that multiple accreditation bodies need to be set up with the blessings of the sector skills councils that represent the employer’s requirements  – these are to guide the content and certification of competencies to fill the skills gap. At the primary school level we know that qualified teacher gaps are a national emergency – this is already a national mission and must be executed well.

Read the full article

Google Debuts Classroom, An Education Platform For Teacher-Student Communication

Earlier this month, Google started beta-testing Classroom, an education platform for teacher-student communication.

Here are details of the program:

The Classroom app is part of Google’s Apps for Education lineup of products, and it uses Docs, Drive and Gmail to make assignment creation and tracking easier than when you’d do those things manually. Basically, Google has taken a process that many were already using and streamlined it to make it more useful. Google has a huge advantage over other startups trying to do the same as a result; there’s an immense built-in existing population of users to get onboard.

and:

It also incorporates class communication tools, letting teachers make announcements, ask questions and field student responses in real-time. Plus the whole thing’s free for schools

Who gets to use it?

So far, Google is keeping Classroom invite-only, with educators invited to apply to the preview program for access. They’ll open the gates to that first group of pilot testers in around a month’s time, and Google expects to release it widely by September – in time for the next school year.

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At MIT, the humanities are just as important as STEM

The Boston Globe has an interesting opinion piece from Deborah K. Fitzgerald, dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences where she argues that at MIT, the humanities are just as important as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

Why?

Because:

But the world’s problems are never tidily confined to the laboratory or spreadsheet. From climate change to poverty to disease, the challenges of our age are unwaveringly human in nature and scale, and engineering and science issues are always embedded in broader human realities, from deeply felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions. So our students also need an in-depth understanding of human complexities — the political, cultural, and economic realities that shape our existence — as well as fluency in the powerful forms of thinking and creativity cultivated by the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

And due to this, MIT insists that its engineering students spend a quarter of their time on the humanities:

MIT’s curriculum has evolved significantly over the past 50 years to require all undergraduates to spend substantial time on subjects like literature, languages, economics, music, and history. In fact, every MIT undergraduate takes a minimum of eight such classes — nearly 25 percent of their total class time.

Because, in today’s global, internetworked world, just knowing the science and the technology is never really enough to solve any important problem:

In these classes, our students learn how individuals, organizations, and nations act on their desires and concerns. They gain historical and cultural perspectives, and critical thinking skills that help them collaborate with people across the globe, as well as communication skills that enable them to listen, explain, and inspire. They learn that most human situations defy a single correct answer, that life itself is rarely, if ever, as precise as a math problem, as clear as an elegant equation.

In fact, I remember that as an undergraduate at IIT-Bombay, I was forced to take humanities courses, and I hated having to spend my time on those, instead of learning computer programming. However, in retrospect, I feel that the humanities courses (psychology, philosophy, economics) were probably the most important courses of my undergraduate education.

Read the full article

Stanford President predicts Great Experimentation in the area of Online Learning

The Tomorrow’s Professor newsletter out of Stanford has an interesting article about comments made by Stanford President, John Hennessy, about the future of online learning

The main point he made was that this is a time of great experimentation in the area of online learning, and education departments around the world need to scientifically study online learning models and teach the rest of the faculty how to tame this beast. Specifically:

Hennessy said that colleges and universities will be taking a more scientific approach to online learning than in the past, relying on their schools of education to measure student learning and to provide feedback.

“I’m actually pretty confident that we’re going to come out with pedagogical approaches that are truly a step forward in terms of helping our students be better learners – and that will really be refreshing,” Hennessy said.

For example, this is an example of some interesting ways in which online courses are used by people around the world:

“Imagine that ‘Book of the Month Club’ becomes ‘Course of the Month Club’,” Hennessy said. “With a little bit of technology, a community of learners self-assembles around a course and forms a group. They do peer grading. They interchange. They exchange conversations and they learn the material together. I think we’ll see this happening. It would be a wonderful thing and great for the world.”

Another interesting aspect is that the difficulty level of exams probably needs to be adjusted:

At UC Berkeley and Stanford, he said, faculty members design exams to challenge students.”Now, take that exam to a school where perhaps the students are not quite as capable and give them that exam and you’re going to crush them,” he said.

In fact, the one of the most important areas in which online courses are being offered is education itself:

Hennessy said one thing that MOOCs do very well is “educate the educators” in other parts of the world, allowing them to use the material to prepare courses for their students.

And finally, this:

In response to a question from the audience, Hennessy said some faculty have reported that more students are attending classes when they have “flipped” the classroom – delivering lectures online and meeting in the classroom for one-on-one interaction and hands-on projects. While those early indicators are positive, he said, controlled experiments would be the key to understanding how well students are mastering the material in those settings.

Read the full article

Advice to High-School Graduates: ‘You Are Not Special’

The Atlantic has an interesting article giving advice to High-School Graduates: ‘You Are Not Special’, which is the message of a graduation speech in 2012 by David McCullough Jr., an English teacher in Wellesley High School.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

According to Boston Magazine’s “Best Schools in Boston 2013,” Wellesley High School’s students have a 98.3 percent graduation rate, and 95.1 percent earn a score of 3-5 on AP exams. Wellesley students’ SAT scores average a 623 in reading, 631 in writing, and 631 in math. These kids are born and bred for success.

But, say McCullough:

“If you remove from the kid the notion that every step is crucially important, all expectations are spectacular achievement, and allow him to operate free from adult scrutiny and be a regular kid and follow his interests, it makes for a much healthier educational attitude,” he said.

and:

“The kids now seem so directed and scheduled—they’re tutored and coached and the degree to which parents are involved in their lives is … well, one notices,” he said. “They’re getting very little experience conducting their own lives and living with the consequences of their decisions. When they stumble, their parents step in, denying them very important formative experiences.”

and finally:

McCullough hopes teenagers will “think about why they do what they do, follow new interests, not worry so much about material reward, invest themselves in the moment, [and] trust that results will take care of themselves.”

Which is pretty much what the Bhagavad Gita says, right?

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