Open Learning and the Future of Higher Education
Panelists: Amy Gutmann, moderator, Tom Friedman, Martha Kanter, Brit Kirwan, Daphne Koller
Announcer: And now, please welcome the University of Pennsylvania president, Dr. Amy Gutmann.
Amy Gutmann: Good afternoon. It's wonderful to see so many of you hear on a sunny Friday afternoon. Welcome to our 2013 Silfen Forum. I'd like to extend a special welcome, on behalf of all of us at Penn, to over 450 wonderful guests from as near as Philadelphia and Boston, and as far aways as Edinburgh, Jerusalem, Hong Kong, Singapore and Melbourne. It is quite remarkable as we gather together on this sunny Friday afternoon, to explore open learning and the future of higher education. We have lots of skeptics in this country and the world about whether education, especially higher education, changes. So I would like to ask those of you here today, that to join with me and think about this one point, we'll have many other points to explore today. But I would ask that no one ever again doubt the endless capacity of education and innovation to inspire great minds to work together.
And we have some great minds here today. This is our fourth Silfen Forum. The Silfen Forum is a public discussion of globally important issues featuring some of the foremost thinkers of our day. And it is made possible through the generous support and inspiration of University Trustee David M. Silfen, and his wife, Lyn Silfen, who are here with us. David and Lyn, would you please stand up so we can thank you?
So, I'd like to begin, just to give an overview of our topic, with a representative quote about new educational technology. This write is skeptical. He says, and I quote, it is to be mistrusted because it brings the appearance of wisdom, instead of wisdom itself. Now this could be a critique of online learning, Daphne, but the author is none other than Plato. And Plato was recording a dialog between Phaedrus and Socrates in the year 370 B.C.E. What is the technology in question? What is the one that gives the appearance of wisdom instead of wisdom itself? The technology is writing. Socrates is suspicious that writing is, and again I quote, an invention that will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory.
New educational technologies are almost always met with suspicion. With great suspicion. With skepticism, if not cynicism. Similar concerns were voiced again 1800 years later with the invention of the printing press, and the widespread introduction of the printed book. At that time, the purpose of the faculty was challenged as never before, but many times since. Why sit through a lecture to gain knowledge when, on your own time, you can simply read it in a book? And yet from that time until now, our universities have not only survived, they have thrived. And they have changed dramatically as well. We are here to talk about one such change, which certainly seems dramatic. So how do we wisely judge and prudently plan for the new internet technologies in education, particularly as we experience an explosion of massive open online courses, or what are now called, a new word in our vocabulary, MOOCs?
This new educational technology burst on the scene just five years ago. Now, you know you've heard that failure is an orphan while success has many parents. Countless individuals and universities are willing to claim parentage of MOOCs. But it was Stanford, and it was a Stanford course on artificial intelligence that drew 160,000 students in the fall of 2011. And it really caused everyone to sit up and pay attention. The following year, 2012, became the year of the MOOCs. Three different university collaborations, Coursera, Udacity and edX, emerged to promote this new technology, and they offered very high quality courses to anyone in the world with an internet connection, who could speak the language. And they offered it for free.
And then it turned out, even if you didn't speak the language, there'd be someone online who'd translate it for you. Penn is one of the founding partners of Coursera, I'm pleased to say. There were four founders, Stanford, Penn, Michigan and Princeton. That was less than a year ago. Our faculty have since, just at Penn, completed ten courses on the platform, with a total enrollment of more than 450,000 students. And those are just the courses that we've completed. There are another 400,000 students enrolled right now. So those 450,000, just wrap your mind around that, are eighteen times the total enrollment at Penn.
So you begin to understand the possibilities and the opportunities that this new technology provides. But none of us knows exactly how it will play out. I have from the beginning called this a bold experiment. Are we headed for an educational revolution, or will this just allow us to do more of what we've always done, and in a somewhat new way? What are the opportunities and what are the most likely unforeseen consequences? And I'm delighted to say we have a stellar group of panelists with us today to answer my probing questions. I have the privilege of asking the questions, and they're on the spot for answering them. Those are the rules, guys. That's one of my few privileges as president.
Tom Friedman is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and columnist who's been with the New York Times for two decades, serving in capacities that have ranged from Middle East bureau chief to chief diplomatic correspondent, White House correspondent, and international economic correspondent. Since 1995, he has served as a New York Times foreign affairs columnist, where he has written extensively on the ways in which new technologies, like MOOCs, transform the lives of individuals and the societies in which they live. His best selling and Pulitzer Prize winning books are read avidly around the world. I have everyone of them on my bookshelf, marked up, and really absorbed them. It is a fabulous privilege, Tom. Welcome Tom Friedman.
Tom Friedman: Thank you.
Amy Gutmann: Martha Kanter has been the Under Secretary of Education in the Obama administration since 2009. She oversees policies related to post-secondary education, adult and career technical education, federal student aid and a wide range of other White House educational initiatives. President Obama has set a goal for this country: to have the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020, as measured by the proportion of college graduates. The President has charged Under Secretary Kanter with implementing the policies to make this happen. Prior to her appointment, she served as Chancellor of one of the largest community college districts in the nation, located in the heart of California's Silicon Valley. So if there's someone who combines an understanding and appreciation of education and innovation, it is certainly Martha Kanter. She is the first community college leader ever to serve in the Under Secretary position. Welcome Martha.
William "Brit" Kirwan has been Chancellor of the university system of Maryland for more than a decade. We were just talking earlier. When I was, I spent a year at University of Maryland-College Park and Brit was then Provost. A marvelous year, I should say, at a spectacular center for ethics and public policy. Previously, he served as president of Ohio State University, and before that as president of the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a widely respected, sought-after expert on the biggest challenges facing higher education in America, especially affordability, cost containment and innovation. Chancellor Kirwan chairs the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and is in frequent communication with business leaders and government officials about the educational needs and requirements of the 21st century workforce. Welcome Brit Kirwan.
Daphne Koller is the Rajeev Motwani professor in the computer science department at Stanford University. Her broad expertise includes machine learning, with applications for systems biology, and personalized medicine. In January of 2012, Professor Koller helped usher in the era of MOOCs, when she co-founded Coursera with fellow Stanford professor Andrew Ng. Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company that works with top universities to create exceptional online classroom education for free. By January of this year, Coursera included 62 university partners, offering 300 classes, with more than 2.5 million students enrolled. Welcome, and thank you, Daphne.
So let's get started. Okay Daphne. You're on the spot.
Daphne Koller: I'm on the spot.
Amy Gutmann: The last shall be first, as they say. So the New York Times called the year 2012 "The Year of the MOOCs." But online education has been here for two decades.
Daphne Koller: At least. More.
Amy Gutmann: So is this hype or is there something special about MOOCs?
Daphne Koller: I think there is something special about MOOCs and it has to do first, it has to do with several things. First of all, there is the massive aspect of it. The "M" in the MOOC. And the "O," the open in the MOOC. Neither of these were really characteristic of…
Amy Gutmann: So that's the big MO, so to speak.
Daphne Koller: That's the big MO. That's exactly right. I think that what we have been able to do, by a combination of technology and design, is to provide a truly outstanding educational experience for people everywhere, at what is effectively zero marginal cost per student. This is something that reaches people who otherwise would never have access to the kind of educational experience that we at institutions like Penn or Stanford take for granted.
Amy Gutmann: So Brit, Moody's said that MOOCs are a good thing for elite schools. But, and I have a quote here, there will be negative effects on smaller colleges that may be left out of online networks. Now, your system runs the gamut from what you would call a flagship state university to community colleges, and so on. Do you see or do you expect dramatically affects on different campuses?
Brit Kirwan: I do. In fact, because I think College Park, for example, will be a producer of MOOCs. But my hope is that all of higher education can take advantage of new ideas, new innovations like MOOCs to address what I think is the most pressing issue facing our country, and that is our ability to educate the next generation of our population to the levels and quality degree that are demanded. I think we are at great risk in the United States. We talked a lot about the competitiveness requirement for producing more graduates, but what can't be overlooked is the social equity aspect. To come from a family in the lowest quartile of income, you got about an 8% chance of getting a college degree. If you're in the upper quartile of income, it's about an 80% chance. College has become the gateway to a good job and a successful career. We can't be the America we have been if we don't reach down and educate more low income students. So this issue of cost and access can only be addressed, in my mind, in this era, through innovations like the MOOCs. And that's why I'm so excited about the potential that they offer.
Amy Gutmann: So we're beginning, I think of this as MOOCs 101. The basics here.
Brit Kirwan: That's a very important point.
Amy Gutmann: So the basics are that you can deliver a lot with a very low marginal cost. Is it gonna work? We're talking about the basics. You said low income students are the most left out.
Brit Kirwan: Right.
Amy Gutmann: And it's absolutely true. No matter how much outreach places like Penn do, and we do a lot, we are not gonna capture all of those students. But, are MOOCs promising? I began asking about the hype. Are we promising, or are people in your neck of the woods in journalism who really are excited by this, are we promising too much?
Tom Friedman: Well, you know, I can't speak to the journalism side of it.
Amy Gutmann: Okay.
Tom Friedman: So let me try to just put it into context. Because I think we tend to talk about all of this in separate boxes, that is, the technology, education and the workplace. To me they are actually seamlessly connected. What Daphne's talking about the technology's enabling is intimately connected with what President Kirwan is talking about, in terms of what the social inequality aspect. So I will do the one minute version of the world is flat. Okay? Updated. Because it's, to me, it's relevant.
Amy Gutmann: The world is flat in one minute.
Tom Friedman: Right. And maybe two. Because I have one rule of business and life in a flat world. And that is, whatever can be done, will be done.
Dr. Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: The only question is will it be done by you or to you? But just don't think it won't be done. Okay? That's what produced-
Amy Gutmann: And I was going to ask you about that. Because what I think when you say by you or to you also, is it gonna be done by the United States or to the United States.
Tom Friedman: That's where it starts.
Amy Gutmann: And those of you from outside the country, this is constructive competition. Right? We want you to compete. Go ahead.
Tom Friedman: So, you know, when I wrote "The World is Flat," which was in 2004, what was I basically arguing? What was that I didn't mean we are all equal. What I meant was we created a platform where more people could connect and collaborate at zero cost, from more places than ever before.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: And that was thanks to the merger of three things, the personal computer, which allowed everyone to author their own content in digital form. Second, the internet, which allowed people then to transmit their content, digitally, anywhere. And the emergence of what I call work-flow software, in my own lingo, which allowed people to collaborate on each other's content.
Amy Gutmann: Right.
Tom Friedman: So that all came together, basically between 1995 and 2004. I would argue what made Coursera possible, what made the MOOCs revolution possible, was a second revolution that has happened since 2004 until today. It's a huge inflection that happened, but was disguised by the sub-prime crisis and post 9/11, and we are now living it. My sound byte on this is very simple, that in 2004 I wrote 'The World is Flat." In 2011, I wrote a book, twelve, "That Used to Be Us" with my colleague, Michael Mandelbaum. And when I sat down to do the new book with Michael, the first thing I did was get the first edition of The World is Flat off my bookshelf. I opened the index and looked under a, b, c, d, e, f, fa. Facebook wasn't in it. Okay.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: So when I was running around saying the world is flat, we're all connected, Facebook didn't exist. Twitter was still a sound, the Cloud was still in the sky, 4G was a parking place, LinkedIn was a prison, applications is what you sent to college, big data was a rap star and Skype was a typo. Okay?
Amy Gutmann: Go ahead. You gotta hand it to him.
Tom Friedman: All of that happened after I was arguing the world is flat. So what's happened, actually, is that the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected in the last seven, eight years. It's a huge inflection. And the last point I'll just make is related to this is what that has done, I believe, is that it has raised the whole global curve. The whole world were a single math class at Penn, the whole global curve just rose because every boss now has cheaper, easier, faster access to more above average software, above average automation, above average robotics, above average cheap labor and above average cheap genius. Hence, what I would argue the single most important socio-economic effect of our time is that average is officially over.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: And when average is over, to take Dr. Kirwan's point, if you do not have a high school degree, there is nothing for you down there. So the technology is related to the inequality is related to the opportunity.
Amy Gutmann: And just to put this in very specific form, Coursera is mounting an advanced calculus course. And it happens, just happens, coincidentally, to be given by a Penn professor named Robert Brice, who's actually here. I see Rob right over there. And this course is one of the first courses to get accredited by the American Council of Education. If any of you have not logged on to see this course, you must because it's visually stunning. Because Rob is not only a great scholar and teacher of applied math, but he's an artist. And he knows Dante and he draws.
This course is gonna be available for everybody around the world. And we hope, and I know Rob hopes, that it will be something that inspires more people, more young people who don't have access to it in a traditional education sense, to learn advanced calculus. Now Martha, you're on the spot here, but in a good way. You really care about access and quality. And Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan has said, and I quote, every capable, hardworking and responsible student should be able to afford to go to college. That's not a Democratic dream or a Republican dream. That's the American dream. So, here's a multiple choice quiz. Right? Automatic grading would be easy, but I'm sure you'll have a somewhat untraditional answer to this.
Martha Kanter: Daphne, you're on to grade.
Amy Gutmann: Right.
Daphne Koller: My engineers will deal with it. No problem.
Amy Gutmann: Will MOOCs (a) increase access, (b) decrease the quality of education available to young Americans, (c) both, or (d) none of the above?
Martha Kanter: They will definitely do (a) and (b).
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Martha Kanter: But not none of the above, and they will do (a) and (b), they will increase quality and decrease quality. So I would amend (b).
Amy Gutmann: Okay.
Martha Kanter: They have already increased access. So they will continue to increase access. That's a no-brainer. You all have seen the numbers.
Amy Gutmann: Right. And that is a headline. I mean-
Martha Kanter: But-
Amy Gutmann: I mean that really is the headline, because there is no doubt. Right? I just wanna, this is quite remarkable because we're living through this. There is no doubt that they have already increased access. There is an autistic young person who took Al, Phil Reese's American Poetry course online, because that young person, because of his autism, couldn't do it in person.
Martha Kanter: Right.
Amy Gutmann: That's amazing!
Tom Friedman: You know, I wrote about Coursera with Daphne. We've been doing panels all year since then, together. And we can do a duet.
Amy Gutmann: Shucks. I thought you only came here.
Tom Friedman: But I was so struck in your introduction of her. I wrote the first column about her and, of Coursera, in May. At the time, it was 230,000 students, I think, Dal. Now it's two and a half… and each time we do a panel together-
Daphne Koller: Three point two.
Tom Friedman: Three point two! Okay. Each time we do a panel together, and this is in the same calendar year still.
Amy Gutmann: Right. Right. No, I think of, and when we started, we were four universities. I see my Provost, Vince Price, here, and he's really carried this forward for Penn. He and Ed Roth just, we move ... nobody should say that higher education can't move quickly, when we want to move quickly and there's something to be gained. But, just to piggy-back on what Tom said, so I thought less than a year ago there were four of us. I thought of, you know, being a lab scientist and having a Petri dish. And first you have two, and then you have four, and then you have eight. And before you know it, we have 62. And I looked at Daphne this morning, I said, okay, do we have 124 now? Are doubling? But it is quite remarkable, and it's good. But let me get back to Martha. So, access and quality, how can we bring them together?
Martha Kanter: So I had a meeting this week with the head of higher education in one of our fifty states. He said he had just completed four MOOC courses in introduction to computer science, in four different MOOCs. He said he had four incredibly different experiences in terms of what was taught, how those MOOC courses were taught, and what he came away with. My first question was, did you finish? He actually finished all four courses. So when I say in answer to (b) that it has the potential to increase quality and decrease quality, it is that variation that we in the federal government, and the many people across the country, want to ask the MOOC leadership, which are dispersed all over the world now-
Amy Gutmann: No, they're all here right now.
Martha Kanter: Okay.
Amy Gutmann: So you can ask them right here.
Martha Kanter: Okay. Ask the MOOC leadership to give us the best quality, and continue giving us the best quality and demonstrate how you are giving us the best quality, and what we're learning from what you're doing. So when I asked, actually, Daphne a couple of weeks ago, who's taking MOOC courses? I don't know if the numbers are the same, but you said 80% of MOOC takers in Coursera have baccalaureate degrees. And my next question, which is a question, who doesn't have a baccalaureate degree? And are they completing MOOC courses? And what levels of those courses? And a plea, I guess, to close this little comment that I have, is do MOOCs have the potential to teach basic math and algebra so we can get more students completing advanced calculus, so we can get more people ready for the jobs that are gonna be here that Tom talks about?
Amy Gutmann: It's a great question. Daphne?
Daphne Koller: And I think it's an essential step. Because to speak to Brit's point, if we're going to raise the level of society within the United States and equally or, perhaps, even more so in the countries around the world, that need access to education, even more so than we do here, you have to start from the basics. And the basics are introductory algebra, introductory physics, calculus, and then you bring them up to the next level of course, to the point that they can complete a baccalaureate degree. And I think it's absolutely essential that we provide that pathway to success for students who come in with so very little.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah.
Brit Kirwan: I just, I wanted to comment on the quality issue because I think that's so central to this discussion. We in higher education cannot meet our obligation to society, looking to the future, if we can't find lower cost means of delivering high quality higher education, overcoming what Bill Bowen calls 'the cost disease.' And so the thing that excites me about the MOOCs, but I still have questions, is can they be used in traditional campuses to drive down the costs, but maintain the quality of the delivery? And we have to answer that question. We're actually running some experiments. We're working with Ithaca, the not-for-profit in New York, in partnership with Coursera, with funding from the Gates Foundation, at the University System of Maryland. We're running some side-by-side comparisons where classes are being taught in traditional ways, but we're using the MOOC in other classes, sections of the same class. And then we're gonna compare the cost and the outcome. We've got to answer that question.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So let's be clear about this. Teaching is not the same thing as learning. And what we really care about is not what's taught, but what is learned. So what is, Daphne, the potential for assessing learning via MOOCs? In other words, you know, the front page of the New York Times today, it's very hard to wake up any morning now and not see some article about MOOCs and online learning. And this morning, and it's not coincidental, because it happens all the time now, front page of the New York Times had a story about a new, automated, online grading system that uses artificial intelligence. This is your field, Daphne. It uses artificial intelligence technology to instantly grade student assignments, with no human input. Is the future of MOOCs and higher education that students learn with no human input, except the creation of the MOOCs themselves? How do we best push MOOCs forward so that we know students, a high proportion of students, are learning, not just that we're teaching them and technologically innovative ways?
Daphne Koller: So actually, I'd like to answer first the first of the middle part of your question, rather, which is do we hope that most students will learn without any human intervention? And that is certainly not our hope. I mean, for mean, I think that the best model is the one that as Chancellor Kirwan was just describing, where the MOOC content is embedded in the setting that has a live human instructor there to guide students to-
Amy Gutmann: And that's called the blended model.
Daphne Koller: The blended model, or guided MOOC, or you can call it what you will. But I think it's really important, because that relationship, that personal relationship between a student and an instructor, is something that's really special and unique. And most of us can trace back critical decisions that we made in our lives and our careers to the role model, or inspiration, that we got from a teacher. A really unique teacher, a role model. And we don't want to take that human out of the loop. So, assessments aside, I think that it's really critical to maintain, at least for those students who have that opportunity to attend a college and be mentored by a live human, I think that's a really important part of the experience. And you could do it, based on really high quality content in the same way that you could it before when the, going back to your quote, when the textbook was printed. You could do it based on high quality textbook instead of just listening to.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah. I think it's really helpful to have a historical perspective, and to understand that when the textbook came out, people, many people were proclaiming the end of in-class education. And that couldn't have been further from the truth. And the same thing is likely to be true for MOOCs. Right?
Daphne Koller: That's exactly right.
Amy Gutmann: Except that MOOCs have even a greater potential, Tom, for this globalization of education. There's nothing physically that you actually have to send around the world. It's right there in cyberspace. So, Tom, you recently wrote that nothing has more potential to enable use to re-imagine higher education than MOOCs. So, what is it about MOOCs that gives them that potential and is that true, do you think, as much for the kind of classic liberal arts and science courses? Like…
Tom Friedman: Well you know, I'm not-
Amy Gutmann: As it is for a computer science course?
Tom Friedman: You know I'm not, because I don't live in a university setting, I see it in a little broader context.
Amy Gutmann: Okay.
Tom Friedman: So, to me, one of the most exciting things when I think about MOOCs ... first of all, just in terms of the timeline, if I were to compare this to search, Alta Vista just got invented. We haven't even seen Google yet.
Amy Gutmann: Okay.
Tom Friedman: I mean, talk to, when we do our 550th panel in five years, I'm sure it's going to be totally different. So when I hear people saying, oh this is over-rated. It's all ... Alta Vista just came out. So, I mean, this is so early. And then look at the speed of change already. Is number one. I think of it in terms of foreign policy. We're struggling now, say, with a country like Egypt. The Arab Awakening. How do we respond to this? You know, imagine one way to respond to this, because this was so much a youth-led movement, by young people feeling they're living in a world where they can see and touch how everybody else is living, appreciating that they're behind, and realizing that they cannot live their, realize their full potential. And one of the ways that we can actually both honor this movement and respond to it, other than selling more F-16s to the Egyptian Army and Air Force, imagine we rented a, you know, 50 school rooms in Egypt, installed 50 computers in each room, got them a satellite up-link, high-speed bandwidth. They could take any Coursera course they wanted. We hired an English-Arabic speaking instructor to be there 24 hours a day. The whole thing would cost us one F-16.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: And imagine the impact you could actually make that connects up with exactly what these young people want, which is the tools to realize their full potential.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah.
Tom Friedman: So I think this is just enormous possibilities. I just say one thing, again, to Brit's point about the importance of teachers. I'm here as a journalist. I was inspired by my tenth grade journalism teacher. That's the only journalism course I've ever taken.
Amy Gutmann: Right. And you've had a campus-based college experience.
Tom Friedman: Exactly. And I really believe that inspiration ... you know, my friend Dov Seidman wrote a book called "How." We were actually talking about this last night because you know for the Industrial Revolution we made a small ask of people. We basically asked them to join a union. Come to work every day. And do a repetitive task.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: Whether it's in the service or production sector. I'm speaking very, gross generalization of the average worker. We're not making very big asks of people. We're asking them to do critical thinking and problem solving. We're asking them to learn, re-learn and re-engineer themselves every year. Okay? That's a very big ask. And I think, you know, the small asks you can do through motivating people through carrots and sticks. A big ask like that requires inspiration. Okay? And that's why, if you look at, I think a lot of the most interesting education writing today says we have three objectives. One, we need that base of knowledge. The calculus, the physics. You can't do anything without that. Second, though, we now need critical thinking an and problem-solving. But third, persistence and motivation.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: Because there's one thing about this world, it enables. It inspires. It empowers. But it demands much more self-motivation. And that starts with, I think, and inspired teacher.
Amy Gutmann: Absolutely. Yeah. So, Tom talked about what we could do in Egypt. Martha, what do you see we can do ... what's your ask of us? We ask of the government, a lot. But I remember I was inspired by, as were millions of others, by John F. Kennedy. "Ask what you can do for your country." What can we, as educators, do? What can we do with this new technology, whether it's running a large public system or many of us here who run private universities, what can we do to make that access and quality come together?
Martha Kanter: So we, you know, I'll just build off of Tom's comment on the word inspiration.
Amy Gutmann: Okay.
Martha Kanter: And I'm reminded of Professor Duff Borit's research that children lose hope in third grade. Too many children lose hope in third grade. One out of four children lives in poverty in the U.S. Forty-two percent of people are not prepared for college, much less how many hundreds of thousands are dropping out of high school. So one ask is, can the equity agenda be accelerated to close achievement gaps through MOOC education? And that is a very hard question to answer. It's gonna be answered in a lot of different ways. Is the technology available? Is the access and affordability available? But, if you just look at the whole spectrum of people who are in higher education and people who aren't, who have to really look at the pre-K through 20 pipeline. Look at the places where things are broken. And that's why I mentioned the comment about algebra and the like, reading, writing, some basic education with the inspiration that will give kids, at all levels, and adults, promise. We have 47% of Americans that read at the high school level, of adult American.
Amy Gutmann: So at every level there are people who could be brought in and not lost. Right? And the Khan Academy does it a more basic level than Coursera does it. But at every level, we could bring more people in. And Brit, you see the full spectrum in your system. So how would you answer Martha's question? Can we bring more people in and lose fewer Americans to the inability? I mean, if you lose, the inability to actually sustain themselves in the job market, if they don't get-
Brit Kirwan: Such a critical question for our nation. I think the thing that gives me hope, and picking up on something Tom said. We are at the very early stage of MOOCs and other sorts of uses of technology in education. One of the powers that come from the MOOCs and other forms of innovation is using the internet and the technology, we're collecting data. And students know very quickly when they aren't getting the material. So, there's instant feedback. I used to teach a large lecture calculus class to a roomful, about like this. And you know every six weeks I would know if they were having trouble on something, because I'd give a test. With the MOOCs and with these other forms of technology, we know instantly. Professors know. They can upgrade the quality of their teaching.
Amy Gutmann: And that's the opposite of threatening. That's so reinforcing.
Brit Kirwan: Exactly. There's a continuous improvement, in real time.
Amy Gutmann: And you did it every six weeks. I used to teach ethics and public policy. And one day, after lecture, I saw, large, hundreds of students. One day I saw there was a notebook left open. A student just left her notebook there. So I needed to find out who the student was. I looked at the notebook and I started reading her notes on my lecture. And I said, that's not what I said. And it was a feedback loop that I did not have. And this has the possibility, not just for algebra, but for ethics courses. Getting the feedback loop of what students are learning.
Brit Kirwan: Right. You know there's this adaptive learning aspect of it, in real time, that is I think ultimately going to be one of the most powerful consequences of this technology.
Daphne Koller: So I actually like to think of this, I mean there's been a lot of discussion of MOOCs as a way of decreasing costs. And I think there is an element to that. But for us, I think the biggest contribution, potential contribution here is access and quality. And I think there's a tremendous opportunity for us to provide a much higher quality educational experience to students, because of the instant feedback that the students get, as well as the instructors get. Because the students also know that they're not getting it, and they know that immediately and not three weeks later when they get their graded homework back. And so they have an opportunity to try and try again until they get it. There is the, this is something called mastery learning and it has demonstrated educational benefits. I think that the blended learning format that has you getting guidance and help from an instructor that's targeted to your specific needs. You can get a group together of the fifteen people who are not getting a particular concept and have a discussion with them so that they overcome their hurdle and move onto the next phase. I think there's tremendous opportunities for quality improvement, and that will give rise to cost improvements because the biggest cost to us, as a society, are the students who fail.
Amy Gutmann: So, everyone's nodding and we agree. We agree, at least. I don't ... we'll find out from the audience questions. But I gotta put you, it's my job to put you on the hook.
Daphne Koller: I'm used to it.
Amy Gutmann: So you said, let's put costs aside. So you're a professor at Stanford University. You're also a founder of Coursera. The last, I checked, Stanford, like Penn, has a total tuition and fees north of $50,000 a year. Coursera, on its website, aspires, and I quote, to educate millions for free. So what do you say to the Stanford parents who ask, why did our sons and daughters go through a rigorous admissions process and pay tens of thousands of dollars for something you're giving away to everyone for free?
Tom Friedman: Football.
Amy Gutmann: No. No.
Tom Friedman: Don't tweet that. Just a joke.
Amy Gutmann: I don't think John Hennessy would be a bad answer.
Daphne Koller: So, I think, first of all that is a question that I could direct right back to you, as the President of an institution whose tuitions-
Amy Gutmann: You could.
Daphne Koller: Are not lower than Stanford's.
Amy Gutmann: But you will get no other questions directed toward you if you do.
Daphne Koller: So I will give my answer and leave you to give yours later. I think that what a student gets at an institution like Stanford or Penn is qualitatively very different than what a students gets in the open access MOOC. Because they do have the opportunity to come and engage in a meaningful, interactive dialog with some of the greatest minds in their generation. The faculty who were very carefully selected by a rigorous, different, admissions process of faculty hiring by these institutions. And, at the same time, by peers who were selected by a similar, rigorous selection admissions process, whether undergraduate or graduate level. So I think you get a really spectacular and unique experience by coming and spending those years on a college campus like Stanford or Penn. But that, at the same time, does not de-value the experience that you can give to people in this free MOOC. It might not be the same as what you get at Stanford, but it's pretty darn good anyway.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah. It's a fair enough question to re-direct because it's certainly a question that I've thought a lot about. And the first thing I would say, because it's the first thing that's happening while we go from Alta Vista to Google, is that our faculty, who are doing these MOOCs, are also enriching their classroom experience by using them. So whether it's in Greek and Roman mythology by Peter Strock, or advanced calculus, there's the flip classroom, even if it's not fully flipped, this is a new word in our vocabulary, new use of the verb flip. They're flipping their classroom and putting much more interaction in the classroom and our students can learn more online, as well. And you know something? Our students love it.
Daphne Koller: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Amy Gutmann: It is a win-win. As we're creating more quality education online for students who cannot either be admitted or afford to take the time off for a four-year residential college experience, we're also making our experience right here better. And I think that is the way that places like ours are going to increase access by also increasing the quality of the experience right here on campus. It's not the most thrilling thing to come into a classroom and just hear your professor speak to you and not have interaction. It's thrilling when you can have, maximize the interactive time.
Tom Friedman: Well, I think one of the by-products of the whole MOOC movement and Coursera is gonna be to force professors to take pedagogy seriously.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: I mean, I believe you-
Amy Gutmann: And they wanna do that.
Tom Friedman: Yeah. I think they do.
Amy Gutmann: They really want, because why did they choose this profession?
Tom Friedman: Yeah. I think you need a license to teach kindergarten in this country, but not physics at a university. You know. And there's not gonna be a "like" button for every professor. Just like we in the New York Times have the most emailed, most viewed. You can see how a column, a lot of peculiarities. But you've gotta take communication seriously now. You can't just show up and say I'm just gonna give my lecture, read my book notes, or whatever. Pedagogy I think is gonna be, will really benefit from it.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah.
Daphne Koller: Can I just add one thing?
Amy Gutmann: Sure.
Daphne Koller: People often ask me, relating back to a question that's already been asked, which institutions are going to be threatened by this revolution? Is it the publics or is it the privates? Is it the top-tier, middle-tier, the community colleges? And my answer is that that is not the right stratification. The institutions that will be threatened are the ones whose only value proposition to their students is the dissemination of content. The ones who do no understand that they need to provide to their students a value proposition transcends that.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah. Because why is higher education so important for our time? It's not to get content. I mean, you need content to be creative and innovative, but it is to develop your capacity for creativity and innovation. So Brit, you're a former chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Education. And it recently provided credit recommendations for some of Coursera's MOOCs. What do you think the significance of credit bearing MOOCs will be for American higher education?
Brit Kirwan: It's absolutely critical. We can't get to where we need to go unless we can figure this out. How we give credentials and credit for MOOCs. My, I think what we're trying to do without our university system is to bring the MOOCs into our traditional classroom settings, in certain types of courses. But just across the country, we've got to figure this out about course credit. Hopefully we can use MOOCs with high school student that wanna go to college. They come to college with credits already in place.
Amy Gutmann: And that's part of the access. Yeah.
Brit Kirwan: Look. We give credit by examination all the time. Kids get credit for that. Why not let them get credit by examination for a MOOC? So, absolutely, we've got to figure this out. And I think what the ACE is doing is a very positive step.
Amy Gutmann: True.
Martha Kanter: So part of pushing this question a little bit, I had a meeting with some Research One university presidents recently. I asked a question, I am a senior in high school. I got accepted to your university. I met all your selection qualification. And in my senior year, I took all of your MOOC courses with your MOOC professors, and I wanna come in as a sophomore. Can I? Basically, he said no. You've taken alien credit. We will give you credit for two semester courses. But we need to socialize you for the full four years. And you need the experience. And after that, I was visited by another president of a Research One university, and I said what do you think your university's gonna look like in five or ten years as a result of MOOCs? And he said, well probably be a three year university, and take sophomores. Because we will wanna pack on our advance degrees to that what would be the senior year in college. So I think MOOCs are making us question, you know, what are the business models in American higher education?
Amy Gutmann: Yep. Yep.
Martha Kanter: Who's going to get in? And how will universities change? And we're already seeing the starting of three year universities. And so, back to you.
Amy Gutmann: So that sounds quite revolutionary, a quarter of the time reduced. So let me tell you a story of one person who applied to college way back in 1967, to an Ivy League university that I think you all have heard of. And I got sophomore standing. That university had soph... I could've graduated in three years. AP courses. That university still gives sophomore standing. Now, the moment I got there and I wanted to be a math major so I started as a sophomore as a math major. And I got inspired by political philosophy and thought that math was, sorry Rob, too easy. You could come to, you got QED with, and wasn't as interesting although I still am fascinated by it, as political science. And I went on to take four years. But things that people feel are so scary and revolutionary, some of those things have been around and they just haven't been used that much.
Martha Kanter: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amy Gutmann: We could use three year and four year experiences. You can give students the options. A lot of students, I can tell you, who come don't want to graduate in three years, if they don't have to, because you do learn creativity. You develop relationships. But I don't see this as such... I see this as a welcome development. We have a really varied system of higher education. Why not vary the number of years that it takes for, depending on what a student can do?
Martha Kanter: Can do.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah. But I think people now think, oh my God. It's gonna be a three year experience. Where we've had the possibility of three year experiences, not that many students in Ivy League universities wanna take it. But, bless them if they do. So Daphne, in a 2012 interview with The Atlantic, you said about MOOCs, that the tsunami is coming whether we like it or not. You can be-
Daphne Koller: I was paraphrasing John Hennessy.
Amy Gutmann: This is a very California quote, I have to say. She goes on to say, you can be crushed, or you can surf. And it's better to surf. So I wanna ask anybody here: what do you think higher education needs to do in order to surf? To ride the wave rather than be crushed by it? You wanna start?
Daphne Koller: Sure. And let me first attribute the quote correctly. This is John Hennessy's quote. So I just, I was adopting it.
Amy Gutmann: Good.
Daphne Koller: I think that in order to surf an institution really needs to think, as I said, about what is the value that it provides to students. And that value has to transcend pure content. And it even has to transcend just being a diploma mill and giving somebody a diploma at the end. You need to be in a position that you engage your students in meaningful ways that are more than just content. And that can be creative problem solving, project work, internships in labs, internships in industry. I think there's a tremendous variety of ways that institutions can provide remarkable value to their students. And institutions need to do that.
Amy Gutmann: Tom, what do we need to do?
Tom Friedman: Well I pick up on what Daph said, which is I think it's this hybrid model, which is to get the best out what the on-campus experience can offer.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: And that intimate contact with other students and professors, and at the same time, leverage both for economic reasons and because of what it can offer, an online course, that the technology is making available. So, I think it's, we will move in that direction. I'm very excited about it.
Amy Gutmann: So like a lot of the online ventures that began, there was not a clear cost model for them. A clear profit model. Sustainability. In order for us as universities to bend the cost curve, or even keep the cost curve constant, we need to find some way of getting revenues from MOOCs.
Tom Friedman: Well, you know, to pick up one point-
Amy Gutmann: So how are we gonna do that?
Tom Friedman: Yeah. I don't know how we're gonna do that, but I have a daughter at Stanford right now. So I happen to know what the tuition is. And, in graduate school. And I don't think this model is sustainable. I'm struck at the number of my two daughters, one's 24, one's 27, the number of their friends who have jobs, but are not on career tracks.
Amy Gutmann: Right.
Tom Friedman: There's a difference between a job and a career.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tom Friedman: And I really am struck by the number of them, who I have spoken to lately, who will confide in me. I have $100,000 in loans. I have a, you know, a huge burden these young people are carrying into the world, after taxes. And they are not on career paths. They are in jobs. Teach English in Istanbul or in Dubai or whatever, any number of things. I think, again, because of this inflection, we're in, we may be in for a long period like this where the ability to generate the income to pay these loans back. And I don't think this is gonna be a quick or easy thing. I think the model of higher education is gonna blow up if it cannot find a cheaper way.
Amy Gutmann: Okay. Well, you've just deepened the problem. Because I was asking how we could sustain the online courses by getting revenue, and you've just deepened by saying we can't sustain the traditional.
Tom Friedman: I think what's gonna happen is-
Amy Gutmann: Yeah. This is, I'm glad because we've been on a high here of all the great things that MOOCs can do. So let's get real. What is it?
Tom Friedman: Yeah. IF you ask me, in five years, you will come to your college age son or daughter and say, look, would you like to go to Stanford or Penn and have that campus experience, and the tee shirt, and the hat, and the network and all that.
Amy Gutmann: It's more than that.
Tom Friedman: Or would you basically like to have 20 Coursera degrees? Certifications. Do you want a Penn degree or do you want a collection of certifications. The whole thing will cost you probably less than $5,000. Probably far less than that. And, by the way, you can take Amy Gutmann on ethics, you can take Daphne Koller on applied learning. I think that's the choice a lot of parents are gonna be giving to their kids very quickly. And when you think about, and this is a point Tony Wagner made, the world doesn't care what you know anymore. It only cares what you can do with what you know.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah.
Tom Friedman: That's all it's gonna pay off on.
Amy Gutmann: But do you learn to do with online education?
Tom Friedman: In five years?
Amy Gutmann: Or do you learn to do more by actually having interactions with fellow human beings and-
Tom Friedman: Well, Daph can tell you about the interactions. Her online people have with each other.
Daphne Koller: Yeah.
Amy Gutmann: Okay.
Daphne Koller: And I think some of your own courses have actually demonstrated that one can interact in very deep ways. So, for example, the design course from Carl Ulrich here at the Wharton Business School. People did these amazing projects as part of this semester long course, and they got forty different pieces of feedback from different students throughout the course, telling them what was wrong with their designs. So I think it's naïve at this point and this generation to assume interaction can only be obtained in a face to face setting. I have two daughters, they're 8 and 10. The sit in adjacent rooms, chatting each other on the computer and they seem to enjoy that. So, I think that there's a lot of meaningful interaction that happens in the online format. But I still don't think it's a substitute for an on-campus experience. The question is, do you really need four years of that? Or, as we said earlier, can you make do with three or two and reduce costs in some way?
Amy Gutmann: And it's not just the question of whether you need four years of it, it's also the question of does everyone need the same thing? We have a very distinctive higher education sector in this country in which it's, there's no other country that has as diverse a set of institutions of higher education as we have. And the philosophy that goes along with that is one size doesn't fit all. So, this allows, MOOCs allow, a set of variants on a very important theme of how do you teach creativity and innovation. Brit, what do you see happening? You oversee the whole range.
Brit Kirwan: Yeah. Well, you know, I think the crisis in our country really around education has to do with public higher education. Quite frankly, Penn and Stanford and Harvard and Princeton, they're gonna keep going on just like they can, if they so desire. But 70% of Americans in higher education are in public higher education. Public higher education has been devastated by the economy. There's been a 28% reduction in state support for public higher education in the last two years.
Daphne Koller: Wow.
Brit Kirwan: So we can't be the America we have been and want to be in the future unless we find lower cost means of delivering high quality education to larger numbers of people. This tells me that higher education, public and private, has an obligation that they've never had before. We have got to find these new innovations that are gonna enable us to educate larger and larger numbers of people. And that's why, you know, we're such a fan of the experiment with the MOOCs.
Amy Gutmann: So here's my worry. My worry is that the more the better the MOOCs become, the more the most advantaged students are going to take advantage of them. There's just no doubt that the students that we interact with most of the time just love to go... it's all additive. They go online. They interact online. They go in the classroom. They interact there, here. They go on the playing fields and they learn teamwork. They go on stage and they learn acting. And it just gets better and better. And I do think we have a great higher education sector at the top. And I think many of our state universities are great, but they're getting bled. So the worry is that online education will be a little bit like, at the highest level, what Montessori school was. It was created for the slum children in Italy, in Rome. And it became the hottest thing for the most advantaged children to get a leg up in learning. Is that, I mean, we think of this as access, but are we kidding ourselves? Are the rich gonna get richer, so to speak? And the poor not?
Tom Friedman: I just give you one warning. Okay? Everything that happened to media is about to happen to education. And we at the New York Times, we thought we're the New York Times. We're the Penn of the news business. Watch out.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah. That's why we're in, that's why we're doing MOOCs. Right? That's why we didn't say, sorry we're not going online. And the New York Times is surviving because it went online.
Tom Friedman: It's been a challenge. And we really had to adjust and adapt in a big way.
Amy Gutmann: And the New York Times has a great online presence.
Tom Friedman: Yeah.
Amy Gutmann: And that's what we want as well. So, you're right. If we were complacent, that's what would happen. Sure thing. But I wasn't talking about us as institutions, Tom. I was talking about who's gonna benefit. Which students are gonna benefit? How are we gonna develop this-
Tom Friedman: I just want to go back-
Amy Gutmann: Taking up Martha's challenge.
Tom Friedman: Yeah. The one thing-
Amy Gutmann: How are we gonna develop this so we really are giving access to learning to the students who are not ready, you know, getting it? And part of it's the motivation. Are we going, are those students gonna be motivated to do this? Go ahead.
Tom Friedman: Well, I was just gonna say that, to go back to what somebody said earlier, there is something about this new world, okay, which incredibly enables, incredibly empowers, and incredibly requires self-starters.
Amy Gutmann: Exactly.
Tom Friedman: Self-motivated people. And you are not gonna change that. That is the new world. Okay? The old days where you could join the union and count on a life-long career and be on that track, that's over. And so that's gotta, that awareness has to be built into education now, from pre-school right up through college.
Amy Gutmann: And that's why I think the human factor, having blended learning courses, what Brit said earlier, is going to be so important. Because if we just put things online and think that that's going to truly increase access to living a productive, educated life, we're just kidding ourselves. I think we have to also have the human beings who use those courses to motivate, to help motivate students and get them when they're, they hit a blockage in the road. Get them over that block. Martha.
Martha Kanter: I think we're underestimating the power of technology to become something very different than it is right now. So I loved your analogy about Alta Vista. Because I remember when we put in a planetarium some years ago, I watched with a lot of elementary school kids, this flight through the human heart. And I was watching the DNA, and I was thinking to myself, if only I could get that projected out of the computers, out of the iPads, I could have kids taking apart a human heart. Putting it back together again. And they might get that inspiration from doing with the faculty, with the guided instruction, with all the things that Daphne is talking about. So I do kinda keep a temperature on how quickly the technology is moving, because I kinda feel like we're talking about blended learning in the sense of using what we have in Coursera, and you're certainly the forefront in the MOOCs. But I also think the technology's moving so quickly, that the face to face interaction and the quality and the pedagogy question, all of those are going to be changing over time, while we're trying to do all of this.
Amy Gutmann: Terrific. Right. Daphne.
Daphne Koller: Well, I'd like to take this question of access and take a more global perspective on this. Forty percent of our students are in the developing world. A lot of these students are extremely motivated. They just don't have access because it just does not exist in their country, with sufficient capacity.
Amy Gutmann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Daphne Koller: I've talked to people who taught in these little villages in Africa, you know, under a tree. They don't even have a schoolhouse. And they say these kids are super-motivated. I mean they come in and their homework is always done. And they can learn as much as they possibly can given the surroundings that we're able to provide them. This, I think, is another form of access that we shouldn't neglect when we think about the opportunity here.
Amy Gutmann: So, let's talk just a little about the global nature of this. Tom, how does America compete globally with this amazing access now to MOOCs?
Tom Friedman: Well, I think it's, for one point of view, just from a kind of American branding point of view, let's go back to that Egyptian school, you know, I imagined. You know outside is a little American flag. This school brought to you by the United States of America. It's a totally different was for us as a community, and as a government, I think, to relate to the world. What I find when I travel, and I studied Arabic and Middle East history as an undergrad, but I wish I'd studied education. Because everywhere I go in the world, I find that education is actually the biggest foreign policy issue. Everywhere I go in the world, that's the number one subject. And here's what's really interesting. Everywhere you go, everyone thinks they're behind.
Amy Gutmann: Yep.
Tom Friedman: You go to Singapore, and boy, it's very interesting. You go to Singapore, they're-
Amy Gutmann: And you know something, they're all right. They are.
Tom Friedman: Yeah. Well, they are all right. So you go to Singapore and their kids are killing it on the math PISA tests, and they think they can't invent a hula hoop. You know. Then you come to America and Johnny and Suzie can't read, but Billy, who's got a ring in his nose and a pony tail, and Suzie's got a tattoo on her cheek, just invented three new Apple iPod apps. So, I mean, you got, so we have weaknesses that we've got to deal with. They've got weaknesses they've gotta deal with. I think what you're gonna see, and the more hyper-connected the world gets, is a grand convergence. And this provides a huge opportunity for our higher educational systems to participate in the world in a really constructive way that meets up with the aspirations of 99% of the people out there.
Amy Gutmann: Yeah. And I can't help but say, given that we have a member of the administration with us, that we must reform our immigration laws to welcome people to this country, who want to contribute to it. Really. So, I'm going, because I want to get to the audience for questions, I want to, before we open the floor to the questions of this very eminent group of participants and the audience, let me pose a big sky wrap-up question to each of you. And I want each of you to put yourself on the line. It's April 2023, that sounds like a long time from now, but it's only ten years the last I checked, and we've gathered again to talk about educational innovation and technology and online education. And we, I ask you, so were these MOOCs an incremental step in higher education or have there been a revolution in higher education?
Brit Kirwan: For me the answer is pretty clear. It's gonna be a revolution. And I think it's very hard to see exactly where it's headed. And I think we're gonna come to have seen the MOOCs as being a critical step along the path toward this revolution. But I have no doubt, and Daphne would agree, that by 2023 we won't recognize the MOOCs of that day in terms of what we're seeing right now.
Daphne Koller: So, I agree. I think this is a revolution, and I see the revolution happening on three separate fronts. First, I think it's the democratization of education, the conversation from something that's a privilege of the few to a basic human right. I think it's the transformation of the quality of education that we offer to our on-campus students in a sector that has not changed the way it does business in 350 years. That I think in ten years we'll look back at the days we were shoveling students into an auditorium and lecturing at them for an hour and a half twice a week as how did we ever do that that long. And I think the third opportunity for tremendous growth is in understand human learning as a data science rather than an anecdotal science. Because the data that we can collect here is going to give us tremendous insights about how people learn how to teach them better, that will give rise to what Brit just said, that we will not recognize the MOOCs from ten years from now relative to where we are today.
Amy Gutmann: Martha.
Martha Kanter: I see it in two ways. The revolution could be very positive, and echo what Daphne and Brit are saying. I think if the digital divide widens any further than it already has, we are going to have a different kind of revolution. And that worries me. That keeps me up at night. Because if we don't provide access to the under-prepared folks, to the poor people, to the people who really don't have hope across the world, then I don't think MOOCs will have reached their full potential. And I don't think they're gonna look like MOOCs in ten years. I think we'll have a whole new methodology of learning. We'll have better pedagogy. It's a question of are we going to really lift this nation?
Amy Gutmann: So I'm really glad when you answered it, you also addressed who the winners and the losers will be, and to keep our eyes that we have as few losers as possible. But there's always winners and losers in this. Tom, you have the third-
Tom Friedman: Yeah. I would agree with everything that's been said. I would just point out, as I was riding in this morning, I picked up the Google news and I saw that Anonymous has just taken down North Korea's websites, basically. Hacked their Twitter account-
Amy Gutmann: Can't imagine who that might be.
Tom Friedman: Yeah. So that is the first, if I were writing about it, I may do a column on this. So don't tell anybody. But, that's the first crowd-sourced war. Okay? We just saw a battle that was crowd-sourced to Anonymous. So I see MOOCs in a much larger context of crowd-sourcing. There's crowd-sourcing education. We're seeing crowd funding. We're seeing crowd innovation now. We're see an act of crowd warfare. And I think the only thing that will be recognizable about this place in 2025, or whenever, is the architecture.
Amy Gutmann: And maybe, not even that?
Tom Friedman: Not sure.
Amy Gutmann: It'll be recognizable. But that is a great segue. Change is, we're in the mix of change, and yet you're all here in Irvine Auditorium, which is recognizable from it's outset. And I wanna open it up to the audience for questions. There are roving mikes. So all you have to do is raise your hand, and I will call on you when I see you out there. I see someone right here. This young man, right here in the second row. Please stand up. Introduce yourself. Putting his computer aside. No doubt having been surfing the web while we were talking.
Student: I was taking notes. I swear. My name is Drew and I'm a sophomore. And I've gotten to take a lot of really cool classes that involve community engagement, such as Management 100 and Urban Studies, where we sit down and think about the problems that we see in the community, and we actually work to solve it. So my question is two parts. The first is, should local community empowerment be a goal of higher education? And two, how should MOOCs facilitate that?
Amy Gutmann: Who'd like to take a shot at answering?
Daphne Koller: I can take a shot at the second part. I mean I think that certainly community empowerment should be a goal of higher education. But that's on, the instructors and the universities are really the ones that should decide how that gets done. But in terms of enabling that, the whole, I mean part of the reason why MOOCs today are so different, to come back to your very first question, Amy, about what's different about this new generation, is the fact that it leverages community and crowd-sourcing and human interaction in a way that earlier efforts in online education did not. I think that it's exactly a perfect vehicle that will evolve to become even better, I think, for allowing that kind of community models in higher education.
Martha Kanter: So here's just a quick request. Yes community empowerment is critical. It is a role of American higher education. There are hundreds of colleges and universities that have courses, programs, centers in community empowerment. The question is, if you think of young people and their aspirations, and the fact that we have data saying that only, that 60% of young people apply to only one college in the U.S. One aspect of community empowerment could be to use the MOOCs to allow families, to give families the opportunity to make better choices than we're seeing in this country.
Amy Gutmann: Hear, hear. And that is a huge divide in this country. So that would enormously empowering if that happened. And there are people on, now I can see back. Great. Because I couldn't see any further back. I'm gonna call on the young woman over there in the corner. Yes, you.
Marian Lira: I have a question for-
Amy Gutmann: Please introduce yourself.
Marian Lira: Oh. My name's Marian Lira. I'm with the Penn Fund here at the University of Pennsylvania. I have a question specifically for Mr. Friedman. You elaborate in your book, "The World is Flat," that the world is becoming more on the same playing field as time goes on with the increases in technology across the world. However, you mentioned that everyone outside the U.S. feels like that they are behind. Do you believe that that gap is gonna last for a substantial amount of time? Do you feel that the world is gonna become more competitive, with time, with the U.S.?
Tom Friedman: Yeah. I really do. And I think institutions like Coursera and the whole MOOCs phenomena is really gonna enable that by really giving the best, world-class education to more people in more places. But I think that, you know, I'm always a little leery when people say it's gonna brome more competitive. That means like there's a lumb of labor, we've got it, now they're gonna have it. You know. And I don't actually thinks that's how it works. I think what all of this will allow, first of all what's really exciting to me? We're gonna leverage a billion more brains to solve the biggest problem in the world, problems in the world. Men and women. That's, I think, the most exciting thing about this. Ten years from now, there's gonna be a billion more people on the planet with the tools and capability to solve some of the biggest problems. And at the same time, you know, what they're gonna invent, God only know. You know? One of the examples I gave in the book, your son or daughter goes off to college. Ten years ago. They come back from Penn after their first semester. They mom, dad, I decided what I wanna be when I grow up. Oh, what do you want to be, honey? I wanna be a search engine optimizer. What in the hell are you talking about? I sent you to college. You can't be an ophthalmologist? Or a lawyer? You're gonna be a search engine optimizer? Well, what is search engine optimization? A whole industry came out of nowhere, because if I'm in the tennis shoe business, and Amy's in the tennis shoe business, whose tennis shoes come up first when you put tennis shoes into Google? Became a huge economic advantage. Produced a multi-billion dollar industry overnight. So God only knows when a billion more people start applying their brains to the problems of the world, what new jobs and industries will be be, will emerge. There's only one thing I can tell you, though. And that is in this hyper-connected world, every job, every middle-class job is either gonna go up, out or down faster than ever. That is, it'll either require more education, whatever it is, if it's gonna be a decent job. More people in the world will be able to compete for it and do it in different ways. And it'll be outsourced to history faster than ever. Made obsolete. That's what hyper-connectivity is doing. Every job today is goin up, out and down faster than ever.
Amy Gutmann: Wow. Okay. Right here on the aisle, in red.
Vasara Gabriel: Hi. I'm Vasara Gabriel, Wharton '79. And I've been taking a lot of courses, a lot of the Coursera. I'm having so much fun with that. I really resonate with the issue of people who, everybody has access now. The question is, how people come in and how people finish classes, and that whole idea of motivation. And having learned from a lot of different systems here, in fact, when I was an undergraduate, one of the strongest models that I learned was adherence to therapeutic regimens, in a study with Jack Hershey that we did. And 35 years of research has taught us that there are three and a half significant factors for success there. Intrinsic motivation, access to resources, social support. So the people come in with some intrinsic motivation. The access is totally there. The social support, to me, is the one that is the weakest. Coursera, a bunch of the courses now are trying to get groups together. One I was in recently, I know postponed itself because it was unable to do that. It got very confusing. Others, to me, that's the key. It's like the discussion forums are beautiful and wonderful. But how do you really do social? And get that social support?
Amy Gutmann: Good. So what's the social support for-
Vasara Gabriel: To get the at risk, lower to come and do.
Amy Gutmann: Right. Absolutely.
Daphne Koller: So I think that one answer to that is that this is one of the things that will be most rapidly evolving over the coming years. How do you leverage ideas from social networking, as well as from other disciplines such as gamification, in order to increase student engagement and social interaction on the platform. I'm sure we'll develop much better techniques three years from now than we have today. But at the same time, it comes back to the recurring theme of blended learning. That is, having an actual mentor and specifically for those populations that you mentioned, the ones that don't have as much intrinsic motivation, and are most at risk. They're the ones that I think could really benefit, perhaps, the most from having that blended learning experience with an instructor there with them in the classroom, helping to retain them, engage them and overcome hurdles.
Brit Kirwan: Amy, the point here is with the use of MOOCs and sort of traditional residential campus.
Amy Gutmann: Right.
Brit Kirwan: Two of the issues that they're facing in the general dissemination are addressed. You've got the social support. You've got the credentialing. So I think that makes them very adaptable to traditional campuses.
Daphne Koller: Absolutely.
Martha Kanter: And one of the things MOOCs can do is share outcomes. Figure out, you know, is the socialization, are the socialization treatments really benefiting different kinds of students? Students like me, students like you, who really is going through and what do they need? So, I think Tom's and Brit's and Daphne's point about we're really at the beginning. We' really in the Alta Vista world. But I think there's great promise.
Amy Gutmann: It also the case, I know a lot of people have bemoaned the fact that younger generations, the millennials, are just connected electronically and not face to face. But that actually isn't true. They're connected electronically, and then they're also connected face to face and they often do the same simultaneously, which may seem like bad etiquette. But I, who had a Jewish mother who would've felt very comfortable being on a vaporetto, going from Venice out to, you know, out to the islands, and I'm sitting there and all the Italian women are talking simultaneously and listening to one another at the same time. Our young people, we just have to get used to it. They really learn a kind of interaction that's different from ours. But the social support is obviously necessary, but it isn't exclusive of the technology. It has to be married with the technology. Okay. Yes. Michael Dellacarpini right there.
Audience member: I didn't have my hand up.
Amy Gutmann: Oh, you didn't? Okay. I thought you did. Back there on the aisle. Yes. I thought you did.
Galtam: Hi. My name is Galtam. I'm Wharton of 2010. And currently an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and India. My question is: assuming that this is a revolution that are at the very early stages of, what kind of services and products would you like to see entrepreneurs create to help herald this revolution?
Daphne Koller: Boy, the list is endless. I think there is a tremendous opportunity to develop learning tools that are shareable and reusable. And these learning tools can go all the way from grading for a chemical experiments and simulations, all the way to creation of social groups and interaction and everything in between. So I think it's really unbounded and up to your imagination.
Tom Friedman: There is one thing that I would add to what Daph just said, which I totally agree with. I was just in India and met an Indian start-up company that is doing this. That is basically certification. Because as more and more people are going to develop a body of MOOC classes, and an expertise, basically, outside traditional universities, I think developing independent bases of certification, that you know you passed a certain level of competency, whether it's to be a plumber, an electrician, or a physics teacher, I think it's gonna be another one of these growing new industries. The company's called Mettl. M E T T L. And that's exactly what they're, they've just kind of seen what Daphne is doing and saying, hmm. Well if that's gonna go there, then all kinds of people are gonna need something other than a Penn degree, they can get from Amy. And if we can develop a system for doing that, that's going to be very important.
Brit Kirwan: Could I, Amy, just add.
Amy Gutmann: Sure.
Brit Kirwan: You know, something I think is very important is the sophistication of the learning platforms and their ability to support adaptive learning and learning analytics. I think that needs to be built in, an ever greater sophistication into the MOOCs and other forms of online learning.
Amy Gutmann: I think this young man wants to know what to get to work on for the next innovation that can help us. All the more power to you. Yes. Over there.
Lilia Tzakajem: Hi. My name is Lilia Tzakajem, and I'm a very big fan of MOOCs. And I really love the potential that MOOCs have for the self-motivated life-long learner. So I'm totally siding with that. I had a question, though, about the flip classroom issue. If MOOCs indeed are used to flip the classroom and therefore provide a much better quality interaction at the universities, at the colleges, which means then content will not be the issue. Everybody will learn the content. But the universities will have the opportunity to better educate students with the 21st century skill. They will have more opportunity for creativity, for critical thinking, etc. If that happens, how do we make sure that we don't give an unfair, that we are not really not catering to quality, but we're not creating a more elite education where the people that graduate from university, top level universities, will be even more competitive, then of course we will have all the rest that would be better educated, but not necessarily competitive.
Amy Gutmann: And that will be the last question. It's a worthy question for our panelists to answer. How do we make sure that the graduates of the elite universities aren't even better equipped?
Daphne Koller: They will be better equipped.
Amy Gutmann: Good.
Daphne Koller: But so will everybody else. I think it's important to recognize that we can't solve all problems all at once. And even if we can't get everyone to a level of absolute equality, if we can give creative, self-motivated individuals, who do not currently have access to the top universities, access to that content in a way that their creativity can then manifest because they have such a better foundation to build on, we might not have achieved equality, but we're certainly a heck of a lot better than where we are today where they very little access to any of that.
Tom Friedman: You know, I would just add one thing to that, which is that one of the fundamental truths of our globalization, having been to this debate for a long time, is that the bottom rises faster and the top rises higher, at the same time. And that's what we sometimes, see, you can't control that. But I think that what is so exciting-
Amy Gutmann: Could I just interrupt for a moment? As a moral philosopher, I would say as long as the bottom rises above standards of decency, adequacy, ability to live a good life and choose, we shouldn't try to keep the top down.
Tom Friedman: Absolutely.
Amy Gutmann: We should be focusing on getting everybody, everybody up. So that's the challenge.
Tom Friedman: Well, and just to add to that, and it ties into the young man's question there and the young lady's question back there, which is the reason if Coursera was a stock, I'd buy it right now, is that this coinciding with something that's going on with globalization that I think people aren't seeing. Because it's been disguised by sub-prime prices and post 9/11 that's very important. We're seeing the emergence of a virtual middle class. I've seen it in India and I've seen it in Mexico. Now, what is this? So the price of connectivity has fallen so low, thanks to Daph the price of education is now falling so low, and the price of now your hand-held computer is fallen so low, there are a whole new billion people walking around the planet with middle class aspirations, middle class identity in their own mind, just not a middle class wallet. And what's happened, basically, in India and Mexico, 'cause I've been to both recently and have seen… So I wrote "The World is Flat" because what happened around that book is that we got just enough connectivity that a million Indian engineers could solve our problem. It was that they could remediate computers for Y2K. What's happening now with the falling prices of all these tools, connectivity and now education, is that they're solving their problems. And that floats my boat. Okay? And what you're see now is the emergence of a vast, virtual middle class. And just end with one point, think of the 23 year old young woman who was tragically raped in India. Her father was a baggage handler at Delhi airport, working a double shift making $50 a month. That and selling a little land in his home village allowed him to put her through three years of physiotherapy school. He called her a doctor. She went to the mall to see the Life of Pi with her boyfriend, and didn't have cab fare home. So she tragically took a gypsy bus and that's where the rape happened. She is the epitome of the virtual middle class. And this is gonna revolutionize politics in that part of the world. And Coursera is gonna meet right up with that. Fasten your seat belts and put your seat back and tray table into a fixed, upright position. Okay?
Amy Gutmann: And on that note, I'm gonna ask us to all thank Tom, Martha, Brit, Daphne. Thank you so much.