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Old 08-12-2012, 08:16 PM
gg gg started this thread
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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There is an interesting thing going on with some of the more prestigious universities around the US and over time this kind of thing might shake up the University of Pittsburgh's employment percentage in Pittsburgh. I mentioned my concern that Pitt employs so many and I feel that bubble will burst and our city may feel that burst pretty hard, but I am not sure because Pittsburgh seems to be... well sort of "in" these days. Keeping in mind, I am posting this because I find it interesting. DON'T assume this is a negative thread, it isn't. I am just interested in the direction universities are going and what will that mean to many? If MIT and some Ivy League Schools start offering classes on line to cut some costs and make classes available to lots of people, what will that do to middle of the road colleges like Pitt that is very expensive? I feel Pitt will feel the effects pretty early due to their price vs. what you are getting situation. What will be the future of education. I have said before, will big time universities let you study and "test out" of classes with a fee? Will many colleges eventually shut down due to the Internet? I think they will and that time may be within 20 years. Here is the article that spurred my post. I am only thinking aloud and don't have a concrete opinion on something this new, but I do feel universities are going to employ WAY less people at some point and they will cut cost in a huge way reaching WAY more people. The universities that will do this are going to be the top dogs. That is what is going to hurt U's like Pitt.

Elite Colleges Transform Online Higher Education - Yahoo! Finance
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:38 PM
 
Location: Mexican War Streets
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I wouldn't consider an increasing movement like this as a danger to Pitt as I rather suspect they'd be involved in it. This is mostly due to your mis-characterization of Pitt. It is neither "middle of the road" nor particularly expensive when compared to the entire spectrum of four year schools in this country (or the world for that matter). Pitt's cheaper than Robert Morris for example (in-state). Comparatively, its endowment is huge and Pitt is among the nation's and world's most active research institutions it standing among the top five schools in the amount of National Institutes of Health research allocations, and its election as one of the 61 North American members of the Association of American Universities. Additionally, when talking about the number of employees, it's important not to co-mingle Pitt and UPMC, as the are distinct entities.

That being said, this overall trend truly could have an effect on the types of schools you're trying to implicate here. The loan burdens taken out by people to go to lesser schools is a growing problem.

The key, of course, will be the degree to which an online program can replicate the value derived from an on-campus experience. The article mentions that credit is not yet being given, which strikes me as pretty significant. Honestly, at this point it looks to be more about growing the brand of certain Universities and not supplanting the current educational model. I'm sure that will change over time.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:47 PM
 
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Student loan debt isn't really a bubble, at least not in the usual sense, but it is a problem. The problem for 2nd/3rd tier state schools (yes, I know - Pitt is state-related) would arise if some major curtailment to student loan availability were to occur - if a new administration (not naming any names here) were to drastically reduce Direct Loans, say. But it would have to be really drastic to significantly affect Pitt's and other local schools' payrolls, IMO.
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:20 PM
 
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That's an interesting topic. My thoughts/comments:

1) for any university, the link between total employment and the number of students is tenuous at best. as an outsider, you may think all those employees are there to support classes, but the truth is that they are mostly supporting research, which is roughly independent from the actual number of students (undergraduate at least).

2) you link to an AP article so the doomsday newspaper analogy is predictable, but it is also wrong. the same information taught in MIT courses is already taught at community colleges and lower-tier universities all over the world, and a lot of times the information is already free, on the web. the reason people take MIT classes is to get an MIT degree. if you read the article carefully, you'll notice that you can take that MIT course, pass the final exam (assuredly 100% multiple choice), and be happy about it, but MIT still doesn't recognize it. the article says the University of Washington might, but we'll see about that. the current best-case scenario is the University of Helsinki.

3) as with every technological innovation of the past 25 years (computer-adaptive testing, powerpoint, the internet itself), good online platforms are going to marginally change the way classes are taught, especially undergraduate classes. but distance learning isn't for everyone and it's not a coincidence that it usually caters more heavily to mature people who have the self-discipline to do what they have to do. most 18-year-old kids won't just sit through those online lectures.

a note on tuition and loans -- regardless of how outrageous full-time tuition is at Pitt, it still only accounts for roughly 25% of Pitt's total revenue. the federal government's policy toward university research and the return on endowment investments are a lot more critical for Pitt's revenues, and therefore employment.
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lobick View Post
I wouldn't consider an increasing movement like this as a danger to Pitt as I rather suspect they'd be involved in it. This is mostly due to your mis-characterization of Pitt. It is neither "middle of the road" nor particularly expensive when compared to the entire spectrum of four year schools in this country (or the world for that matter). Pitt's cheaper than Robert Morris for example (in-state). Comparatively, its endowment is huge and Pitt is among the nation's and world's most active research institutions it standing among the top five schools in the amount of National Institutes of Health research allocations, and its election as one of the 61 North American members of the Association of American Universities. Additionally, when talking about the number of employees, it's important not to co-mingle Pitt and UPMC, as the are distinct entities.
That's a good point. Pitt, like other schools, is a research machine. On-line only works for some majors at the Graduate level. And schools like MIT probably don't want to have classes of 5,000 consisting of resident and on-line students. It would take a Prof and a legion of TAs to grade every assignment and exam.

And like the article points out, MIT and other schools do offer on-line courses

Free Online Course Materials | Courses | MIT OpenCourseWare

but for no credit.

Quote:
The key, of course, will be the degree to which an online program can replicate the value derived from an on-campus experience. The article mentions that credit is not yet being given, which strikes me as pretty significant. Honestly, at this point it looks to be more about growing the brand of certain Universities and not supplanting the current educational model. I'm sure that will change over time.
I like what the former Chancellor of the University System of Georgia said. For those that think college undergraduate education will go totally on-line, they obviously don't have an 18-year-old. I think college will become a right-of-passage for many to adulthood.

Last edited by MathmanMathman; 08-12-2012 at 09:37 PM..
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:40 PM
gg gg started this thread
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lobick View Post
I wouldn't consider an increasing movement like this as a danger to Pitt as I rather suspect they'd be involved in it.
You have to understand, Pitt is a big deal here, but go outside of our region and it is some thug Big East basketball school. We are talking about MIT and some Ivy League Schools here. CMU will no doubt be involved and that is a school that can promote itself as a high level school. These big time schools may be smart enough to start positioning themselves for on line schooling. The costs will be MUCH less and at some point there may be credit and graduation. There may be 2 years at homeschool and 2 years on campus. The ideas are endless. The be prestigious schools have huge advantages because they can enroll more people. Places like Pitt may really take a hit. Well, they ARE going to take a hit because the bubble will burst soon. Kids don't want 50K debt starting life. In some cases much more. Kids are smart and will find other ways. If MIT or some other place will find a way, then watch out. Pitt may hurt and hurt fast.
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h_curtis View Post
You have to understand, Pitt is a big deal here, but go outside of our region and it is some thug Big East basketball school. We are talking about MIT and some Ivy League Schools here. CMU will no doubt be involved and that is a school that can promote itself as a high level school. These big time schools may be smart enough to start positioning themselves for on line schooling. The costs will be MUCH less and at some point there may be credit and graduation. There may be 2 years at homeschool and 2 years on campus. The ideas are endless. The be prestigious schools have huge advantages because they can enroll more people. Places like Pitt may really take a hit. Well, they ARE going to take a hit because the bubble will burst soon. Kids don't want 50K debt starting life. In some cases much more. Kids are smart and will find other ways. If MIT or some other place will find a way, then watch out. Pitt may hurt and hurt fast.
No, because that would water-down the elite schools' exclusivity and "name". They are very picky about who they'll admit and give a diploma to and their students want it that way.
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:59 PM
gg gg started this thread
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Originally Posted by MathmanMathman View Post
No, because that would water-down the elite schools' exclusivity and "name". They are very picky about who they'll admit and give a diploma to and their students want it that way.
I doubt it. It would take over 100 year to water down a name and we are talking about smart people. It probably would NEVER be watered down. Why? Well they know what they are doing and are in the top few percent. The can easily manipulate if they need to. We all know they can. Heck idiot presidents even manipulate let alone a place like MIT. Not exactly a bunch of idiots.
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:01 PM
 
Location: Mexican War Streets
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h_curtis View Post
You have to understand, Pitt is a big deal here, but go outside of our region and it is some thug Big East basketball school.
Perhaps to some, uninformed and obstinate souls who don't bother to educate themselves prior to spouting off, that is the case.

I feel very confident in my opinion on this subject (namely the comparision you're attempting to draw amongst institutions) being an alum of both a school your esteem (CMU) and one you loathe (Pitt).

Feel free to reiterate the unsupported assertions you first put forth in your initial post once again (for the third time) as a means of particularly persuasive rebuttal.

And, BTW, what's the ultimate end game that you see here? The IVY league and MIT & CMU with online classes and everybody else shutting their doors? That doesn't really make sense from the point of view of the elite institutions does it? Why diminish your brand by giving meaningful stuff away to the Hoi Polloi? It also greatly underestimates the utility and value of the campus experience.
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:08 PM
 
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In order for many kids to experience the 'utility and value of the campus experience', they have to dedicate the next 10-20 years to being a debt slave.

Universities, corporations and the federal government are happy with this arrangement, but most of the actual slaves aren't happy with it. The longer this goes on, the more likely alternatives will become popular.
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