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Is there any business model for MOOCs?

Society May 28th, 2014, Pierre Dubuc / Cofounder, OpenClassrooms

The sudden and widespread advent of Massive Online Open Courses took universities by surprise and could potentially bring in-depth changes in the Higher Education scene. Still, major questions remain unsolved, such as: what business models are adapted to the new educational actors? Have the major American platforms already won the day, or is there still room for outsiders?

The arrival of MOOCs both fascinates and scares our Higher Education actors. Is it a game changer? Institutions may be challenged, but to-day the most significant difference seems to concern the teaching experience. Five pionniers share their experience.

Modern economies really need high level research scientists, but there are difficulties when it comes to proposing job openings to the PhDs. We have reached a point now where question has become: what is the real value attached to a doctoral degree, both for Society as a whole and for those who register for demanding studies at this level? Might we be faced with a glut of PhDs? The issue is on the table and when we reframe it, it opens up a new prospective.

Advances in neuroscience have shed a new light on our understanding of classic issues about learning. How does it work? Is it different for adults and children? During a recent lecture, Stanislas Dehaene, a neuroscience researcher, gave an overview of recent discoveries in this field. A revolution in the making.

Here we have yet another of those crazy ideas that excites California, but this one potentially sounds a shade more ominous. In order to meet the shortfall of qualified engineers in Silicon Valley, a group of young entrepreneurs of the Golden State have proposed to anchor a floating city in international waters, off the Californian coast, capable of accommodating 2 000 engineers from all round the world, none of whom having a US entry visa. This would cut the dire and endless thirst for grey matter in the USA, a country where young students are shunning scientific and technical courses. Here we are witnessing a situation that is taking on the proportions of a national, strategic crisis. Other countries, other difficulties. But eveywhere the same question arises: how to train tomorrow's engineers?

With massive open online courses, university is the latest facility to be overwhelmed by a digital tsunami. Online learning is not new. But MOOCs take it to a unprecedented extent, and it's for free. Is there a trick? Strategies, prospects, impact, one should have a look at the entire landscape to get an idea of what is going on.

In the late 1980s, the explosive boom of leisure video games literally left educational productions behind. They are back! In areas such as health, safety, education or management, they are becoming ever more important. Why? What does the market and prospects look like?

The Okinawa way, or how Japanese university is reinventing itself

Society July 20th, 2012, Patrick Vincent / Vice President (Finance and Administration) of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University

In October 2012, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) will be welcoming its first students. How does one develop a world-leading center of excellence in the lush jungles of a subtropical island? This is a story of political will – but also of strategic intelligence. A Japanese story… which has consisted in not doing things the Japanese way.

Globalization has given rise to a new definition of competition and the capacity to innovate has become the new international standard for differentiation. France's elite engineering schools are now more than ever being measured for their performance against the world's most prestigious universities. The Institut Montaigne recently published a report entitled, "Adapting our engineers' education to globalization", in which the challenges of the new reality are made clear. First and foremost : "making innovation the motor of the engineering curriculum".

Wikipedia just turned 10. The largest reference work ever produced, the Web site makes vast amounts of knowledge available to everyone that was once available to just a few scholars in major university libraries. But some thinkers say the volunteer-written encyclopedia is itself a sign of something still more important: the rise of social production.

Is engineering destined to remain a man's world? Not everywhere. In China, 40% of engineers are women and in the USSR of the 1980s, women accounted for 58% of the engineering workforce. But in Western countries, and in a large number of emerging economies, the feminization of the profession continues to be very slow and now seems to have reached its limit. This plateau is of concern to policy experts. For the last 10 years, the European Commission has highlighted the risks related to the shortage of engineers and has called on member states to draw more widely on the pool of female talent. In Australia and India, the press has taken up the matter. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics warned last year that the demand for computer engineers would see an increase of 36% by the year 2012 in the United States alone. It seems urgent in these conditions to train more women. But first, one has to ask what the obstacles are.

Mathematics, and by extension mathematicians, have been blamed for precipitating the financial crisis. Poor understanding of the nature of risk, allowed financiers to take refuge in elegant formulae they did not fully understand. In the short run, the profits were too compelling and instant for anyone to question the sustainability of a model mathematicians always said was imperfect for risk assessment. So who's to blame?

A Zero|Base System for Secondary Education

Society April 14th, 2010, Jean Salmona / J&P Partners & ParisTech Review

This first article in our Zero/base series, like all the ones to come, is purely an intellectual exercise. This one describes what a secondary education system might look like if it ignored all existing educational models and was based on current information technology resources and on the way children and adolescents behave today.

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