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Synthesis 2013

Dartmouth Strategic Planning


Higher Education Costs

Universities Try MOOCs in Bid to Lure Successful Students to Online Programs

"Since massive open online courses exploded into the public consciousness, college presidents have been trying to figure out how to use higher education’s most hyped innovation to deal with one of its greatest challenges: enrolling and graduating more students at a time of rising costs and declining support. Academic Partnerships, a company that helps traditional institutions build online programs, believes it has found a way. And it involves awarding academic credit to students who take MOOCs—at no charge." "Academic Partnerships is calling the new program MOOC2Degree. The particulars will vary by institution, but in general each participating university will allow students anywhere in the world to take an online course free. If a student then decides to enroll at the university, the university will count the credit hours earned in the MOOC toward a degree without charging the student." Kolowich, Steve. "Universities Try MOOCs in Bid to Lure Successful Students..." The Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 Jan. 2013. Read article »

Moody’s Gives Colleges a Negative Grade

After assigning a negative financial outlook to the entire higher education sector in 2009, then upgrading the most elite colleges and universities to a stable status for the past two years, Moody’s Investor Services has now re-included elite institutions with the rest of the field in their negative outlook. “Moody’s explained the change by saying that that even the best colleges and universities face diminished prospects for revenue growth, given mounting public pressure to keep tuition down, a weak economy and the prospect that a penny-pinching Congress could cut financing for research grants and student aid.” The agency recommended the use of online classes and elimination or reduction of tenure as possible cost-saving measures. Although Moody’s gave a negative outlook to the overall industry, the nation’s very top colleges and universities, including Dartmouth, still maintain top credit rankings. Martin, Andrew. “Moody’s Gives Colleges a Negative Grade.” The New York Times, 16 Jan. 2013. Read article »

California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial

A California state university has partnered with MOOC provider Udacity to create for-credit courses in which students will, at a cost far lower than usual tuition, watch video lectures, take interactive quizzes, and receive support from online mentors. San Jose State University will study the effectiveness of their new online classroom design through a grant from the National Science Foundation. If successful, the partnership between Udacity and San Jose State could open the door to California’s state universities teaching hundreds of thousands of college students via the internet. Lewin, Tamar, and John Markoff. “California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial.” The New York Times, 15 Jan. 2013. Read article »

Spoiled Children

A new study titled “More is More or More is Less?” might have parents thinking twice about paying for their kids’ college tuition. The study found that the more money parents provided for their kids’ higher education, the poorer their children’s grades were – with the worst grades often coming from students whose parents essentially wrote them blank checks for college expenses. The findings suggest the presence of a moral hazard, in which a party (student) tends to take risks (performing poorly academically) because another party (parent) will incur the costs. A caveat of the study is that the lack of discussion about student responsibilities that is sometimes coupled with increased parental contributions may be the actual cause of poor student performance, not the contributions alone. Jaschik, Scott. “Spoiled Children.” Inside Higher Ed, 14 Jan. 2013. Read article »

Coursera Announces Details for Selling Certificates and Verifying Identities

Dartmouth Professor Hany Farid is interviewed in this article about Coursera’s recent announcement that it will begin selling “verified certificates” to online students. Students willing to pay a $30-$100 fee and verify their identity through keyboard patterning will enter what Coursera is calling its “Signature Track.” Farid says that while identifying someone through their typing pattern may not be as secure as other identification methods like the fingerprint scan, it may still serve Coursera’s purposes. “In general, identifying people online is incredibly hard to do,” he said, but “it could be that for what Coursera wants, it’s good enough.” The article also explores the financial implications of this new certification measure, concluding that “it could mean serious revenue for Coursera.” Young, Jeffrey R. “Coursera Announces Details for Selling Certificates...” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 9 Jan. 2013. Read article »

Benefits of College Degree in Recession Are Outlined

College graduates weathered the economic recession far better than those who had high school or associate levels of education, according to a study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Of the three groups of 21-24 year-olds, college graduates experienced the least decline in employment and wages during and after the recession. Results of the study illustrate a stepwise drop in employment that corresponds to education level. Says Diana Elliot, research manager for Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, “…any amount of post-secondary education does improve the labor market outcomes for those recent graduates.” The Pew study also found that the overall rate of college enrollment declined slightly in the time during and after the recession. Perez-Pena, Richard. “Benefits of College Degree in Recession Are Outlined.” The New York Times, 9 Jan. 2013. Read article »

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We want to scour the world to try to find those things that strike us as truly forward-looking. President Jim Yong Kim