Earlier this year our Keurig brewer needed to be replaced. Went to the store and got a new one. Got it home and our existing K-cups wouldn't work - they were the old version. Called Keurig - they told me they would replace my cups. Told them that wasn't good enough because I didn't want to worry every time we bought cups. The rep said there was nothing she could do. Told her she lost a customer for life.
Took the brewer back, got a refund. Ordered a Mr Coffee version that is quite acceptable. Use whatever cups I want. Hope their management lose their jobs over this one. First rule of business is to treat your customers with respect or they (we) will find vendors who will. Interestingly enough, everybody figured out how to defeat their DRM. Keurig alienated customers and competitors found a workaround. Queue up Nelson Munch: "Haa Haa."
In the Dark Ages when I was an undergrad, we lived in dorms with painted cinder block walls, spartan furniture, and a bathroom per hallway. We had a minimal gym facility but reasonable equipment in the labs. With some help from my parents and working had during summers and breaks, I graduated with only $750 in loans.
Now you have luxury dorms and sports complexes. Sadly, the cost increases for these facilities and the explosion of administrators made it practically impossible to pay for one's education at a top tier state school by working hard during the summers and breaks and some help from ones parents.
Let's not mention the Lake Wobegone mentality that all the children are above average. Colleges love remedial courses - they get paid and the students stay longer. But that changes the economics. Attending college is a business decision and if the graduate can't repay the debt in a few years, the ROI wasn't there.
> That is... naive. It is highly unlikely that that professor has any hand in this.
I suspect you are wrong. Prof. Shiller already makes his classes available through OpenYale. I have watched several of his lectures. His lectures are quite engaging and he seems to enjoy teaching.
I, too, have taken three Coursera classes for credit and done all the work. All three were well worth the effort. One was a teaser program for an expensive masters sponsored by the University. That was clear and did not diminish the value. Another was the first offering and was experimenting with peer grading. There were many problems with peer grading, but that did not diminish the value. I respect all three of the instructors and benefited greatly from the work and interaction.
One must have reasonable expectations of MOOCs. Much of the data mining is actually designed to benefit students. Andrew Ng and Daphne Kohler have written about how valuable the large sample size is for detecting conceptual misunderstanding from wong quiz answers to give appropriate automatic feedback. Two of my classes had over 10,000 participants. Compare that to the typical size of less than 200 at most universities. Seems to me that both faculty and students benefit from such research - faculty from publications and name recognition and students from better instruction.
It is a bit more complicated. I work in the analytical division of well-recognized company. Most of our vendors design instrumentation to work with Windows. There are rarely drivers for other OS choices. Most is also designed with an over-emphasis on graphical user interfaces, the bane of reproducible research.
I see way too much abuse of spreadsheets. According to Baggerly and Coombes, part of the problems in the Duke scandal were caused by off-by one index errors with Excel. Similar spreadheet blunders arose in the recent Reinhart-Rogoff problem.
I hate Excel. It is hard to do simple things efficiently. Try and do a scatterplot with multiple series. How many keystrokes will it take? Once you get your analysis done and your report written with Word, how difficult is it to fix if the client wants to add one more sample? Then consider the changes in VBA. We have 3rd party code that are locked and won't even open on current versions of Excel.
Over the last few years, I migrated all of my back-end data processing to R/Sweave/LaTeX. For some projects I use markdown instead of LaTeX. Everything is scriptable, plays well with version control (code is mainly text files), and runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows. I use (and contribute) to Open Source whenever feasible. Solving problems is easier and I find community support better than most vendor support.
If I could get my hardware to play nice with Linux, I'd switch in a heartbeat. There is only one application I would miss - the debugger in Visual Studio. RStudio is pretty good at what it was designed for, but that does not include debugging the C++ code that needs to be written to speed up some computationally intensive parts...
Sweave/LaTeX/BibTeX files are all text files and work efficiently with git for version control. Having everything under version control has saved my bacon more than once. An added benefit of git is that it is easy to keep work synched across multiple computers with different operating systems.
I find support from these Open Source communities better than commercial support (as long as one follows Eric Raymond's advice on "How to ask questions the smart way."
As a couple of others have noted, there is no reason to posit a false dichotomy - that one must use either Kahn Academy (or similar) or a "live" teacher. Short lessons like Kahn does are useful to review concepts/unit operations where a student is rusty. My wife teaches physics, statistics, and calculus at a small high school and is an adjunct at a local community college, teaching the CC classes in the high school. The best bang for the buck for college credits around. Anyway, her biggest complaint is that too many of her students have been coddled in lower level classes and have either never mastered the pre-requisites or simply not retained them. Kahn's videos are one of many helpful resources for such students. The goal is to transform students into self-directed, life-long learners. This is really the only path to success, because the half-life to obsolescence of any technical course of study is so short.
Prof. Jean-Claude Bradly at Drexel discovered that students actually preferred pod/vodcasts of lectures (they could pause and watch on their schedule) and it freed up class time to work problems and answer questions. I see Kahn Academy videos in this same light. Are they perfect? No. can they be improved? Yes. Will polite, constructive criticism be better received than snarky comments? Absolutely! In this regard, the cliche "everything i needed to know, i learned in kindergarten" has some merit - things are a lot better when everybody is polite and plays nice in the sandbox.
"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge." -- Bakunin [ed. note - I would say: The urge to destroy may sometimes be a creative urge.]