I haven't posted in about a month. A combination of traveling, vacation, moving to Atlanta and getting started as chair. I appreciate why Michael Mitzenmacher stopped blogging as he became department head. I'll try to post once a week but no promises.
Last week I attended the CRA Snowbird meeting, a biennial meeting of CS chairs and other leaders in the field. The big topic this year: Massively Open Online Courses or MOOCs. Coursera just a couple weeks ago had their big announcement with their line-up of universities that will produce courses including Georgia Tech.
John Hennessey, president of Stanford, gave the CRA keynote address arguing that MOOCs will save universities. He puts the untenable costs of universities at personnel costs (faculty salaries) are making colleges unaffordable (not sure I fully agree). He argued that MOOCs will help teach courses more effectively. The hidden subtext: fewer professors and probably fewer universities, or as someone joked, we'll all be branch campuses of Stanford.
As pointed out by a few at the meeting there is nothing essentially computer science about MOOCs. But it's hard to ignore the CS influence: The Stanford courses that started the new MOOC era were in computer science, Coursera and Udacity are led by computer scientists, as are the MOOC centers at Stanford, MIT, Georgia Tech and many other schools. With great influence comes great responsibility so let's be sure to do it right.
About the only thing people could agree with is that the we are in the very early stage of MOOCs produced by major universities and nobody is sure where we are going. MOOCs may completely change higher education in America and around the world. Or they won't.