Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Friday, March 18, 2016

"Free online classes can help careers"/ "Prepare students for the coming instability"

Sept. 27, 2015 "Free online classes can help careers": I cut out this article by Natalie Kitroeff in the Edmonton Journal on Sept. 26, 2015.  It's an article about mixed results.  It's good that these online classes are helping some people, but there are some people who should be taking these, but aren't.  Here's the whole article:

For all their problems, free online classes may have a net positive effect on your career. A new study shows that most people who took a free massive open online course, or MOOC, say it helped their careers, including by getting them a new job or helping them start a business. 

“This type of research illustrates the possibilities MOOCs offer to change the educational landscape,” write the authors of the study, published Tuesday in the Harvard Business Review.

The study was conducted by researchers at Coursera, an online education platform, and professors at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington, who have taught MOOCs. They surveyed 52,000 people around the world who have taken these courses. Seventy-two percent said their online class helped them professionally. Among that group, a quarter of respondents cited the classes as a reason they found a new job. Nine percent credited their MOOC with aiding them in starting a business. 
Harvard Business Review

Free, virtual classes have been something of a letdown for education tech companies, which initially marketed the offerings as a weapon against unequal access to learning. Research shows that almost everyone who enrolls in a MOOC never finishes it. The vast majority of MOOC customers turned out to be well-educated, employed people, rather than the underprivileged strivers the companies were theoretically helping. 

“Are MOOCs merely an intellectual diversion for the well educated and well-off?” asks the study, summing up the skepticism that has trailed the MOOC industry for years.
The authors, who admit that they have a dog in this particular fight, gamely offer some evidence to contradict the despair. MOOC students from developing countries were more likely to say the courses boosted their professional life in tangible ways than people from developed countries, the study showed. Within the developing world, lower-income students were the most upbeat about the career impact of the courses. In general, the courses seem to have the biggest career impact for people who have not finished college.

Of course, 80 percent of MOOC customers already have a bachelor’s degree, and 60 percent come from developed countries, the study acknowledges. That would suggest the people most likely to benefit from free online classes are not the ones taking them.

My opinion: After I read the article, I went on the internet to research it.  It did lead me to this website:

I watched one video "Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web."  It was about filmmaking and I have an interest in that, so of course I had to watch it.

"Seeking a summer job? Dress for success": I cut out this article by Joanne Richard in 24 News on Jun. 10, 2013.  I can only find an e-edition of it.  The tips are from Vicky Oliver who wrote 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions:

The tips are to look clean, neat, and professional. 
-don't put too much art on your nails
-don't show cleavage, bare arms, midriffs
-don't wear sandals
- don't show tattoos

It even said not to carry a backpack.

Here's the book:

Jan. 17, 2016 "Prepare students for the coming instability": I cut out this article by Feridun Hamdullahpur in the Edmonton Journal on Oct. 7, 2015.  It also mentions MOOC:

They didn’t see it coming. Yellow cabs were everywhere, the global symbol of urban life and transit. It was an industry that just worked. And then Uber.

From healthcare, advanced manufacturing, automotive and beyond, there are countless examples today of innovation that is disrupting or has disrupted what otherwise appear to be totally stable, perfectly acceptable products, processes and even sectors.

Fuelled by easy access to enabling technology, the disruption economy has arrived and it’s here to stay.

Every industry has to identify their disruption risks and ask tough questions, including the most important one of all: are we going to be the disrupted, or the disruptors?
In higher education, there’s this sneaky feeling that maybe we’ve weathered the storm.

Remember when massive-open-online-courses (MOOCs) were going to upend traditional higher education as we knew it? The 90 per cent drop-out rate for MOOC students probably means the disruptive force of MOOCs was gravely overhyped.

Still, while everyone was hyperventilating about the advent of online learning — which in fact adds a valuable new dimension to university education — a disruption did indeed take root.

As disruptive innovations force global industries to change faster than they ever have, industry’s demand on the providers of human capital is fundamentally changing.

Daniel Gelernter, CEO of the New York-based startup Dittach, recently told the Wall Street Journal that he wouldn’t hire computer science majors for his developer teams because too many lack the skill set to do the job. And, if they have the skills, they “most likely learned them on (their) own, in between problem sets.”

His view isn’t unique amongst the world’s C-suite. The problem lies within the antiquated way we sequence the process of human capital formation.

Much of the time it goes like this: Traditional universities take kids from high school, bolt even more knowledge onto them, and then – in the hope they’ve matured in the mean time – let industry sort them out as they start their careers.

Some will say this is evidence that universities are an out-of-date concept. Vocational schools, for one, have made good headway claiming they are the places that build bridges from school to jobs. CEOs like Gelernter have even floated the idea that grads should take diplomas in real world problems.

But there’s an even better way. Going forward, universities can make intellectual and professional development truly go hand-in-hand, getting knowledgeable, career-ready graduates to big firms and startups like Gelernter’s faster.

We can achieve this. It means embracing a student-first organizational configuration and culture, with three core features: enriching professional experiences, world class curricula and pedagogy, and research intensity in disciplines of global relevance and impact.

At the University of Waterloo, this takes the form of what you might call additive education.

Instead of just presuming that our students will take our raw knowledge and turn themselves into savvy, conscientious, communicative, team-oriented, entrepreneurial professionals, we prepare them that way. On purpose.

Specifically, we’re the world’s leader in co-operative education (participating students rotate between academic terms and paid professional work terms) which folds the development sequence onto itself, from linear to additive.

This system provides the market with access to smart, professional young people earlier – whether as entrepreneurs or employees – and graduates them with the skills learned in the gaps between their studies, more ready to contribute to real-world business success.

This process innovation does two things. First, it produces uncommon talent. Sam Altman, the president of Silicon Valley’s startup oracle Y Combinator, said that “there is something about UWaterloo in particular that trains people to think like founders” – producing the next generation of disruptors.

It also lets us pose this question to students, their parents and hiring managers everywhere: Why wait for professional development to take place at the end of your degree instead of the beginning?

Additive education is a disruptive force within universities because it meets the central emerging demand that society is placing on our higher education: broad-based human capital formation that is deliberate, not just organic. All while earning a degree.

The degree part is important. Universities, especially those intensively engaged in research, are uniquely equipped to bring together the essential ingredients that will produce the type of people the disruption economy needs to thrive. These people need academic study fused with workplace experience and exposure to cutting-edge research.

This kind of value proposition can’t be replicated elsewhere. It can’t be MOOCed and it can’t be Googled. To deliver an additive higher education experience, you need a campus with great faculty doing deeply curious and real-world relevant research, partner employers with a vested interest in the education process, and you need a sophisticated operational platform to ensure the system is integrated and focused on the sum of the service, not the parts.

Additive education works because it doesn’t make a trade-off between scholarship and talent development: it achieves both.

Feridun Hamdullahpur is president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. Waterloo is Canada’s leading innovation university and was recently ranked 21 in the world for universities with venture capital-backed entrepreneurs by Pitchbook.


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