Archive | January, 2014

The Revolution That Wasn’t: Part 2

28 Jan

I recently read some comments about MOOCs.

Doubts About MOOCs Continue to Rise, Survey Finds: Babson Survey Research Group, Pearson and the Sloan Consortium

The findings, released in a report on Wednesday, reveal a growing skepticism among academic leaders about the promise of MOOCs. The report also suggests that conventional, tuition-based online education is still growing, although not as swiftly as in past years.

The article – Top Issues Facing Higher Education In 2014 on, ends with:

You may observe a notable omission from this list: MOOCs. Increasing awareness of their limitations for certain audiences combined with a feeling of “enough already” will make these yesterday’s news in 2014.

The pioneer of MOOCs, Stanford Professor and founder of Udacity, predicted in 2012:

In 50 years, there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them.

Recently, however, he changed his opinion of MOOCs:

“I’d aspired to give people a profound education–to teach them something substantial. But the data was at odds with this idea.”
“We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product. (emphasis mine)”

I have taken a few MOOC courses on Udacity, Coursera, Stanford Venture Labs, and NovoEd. I’m enrolled in one or two courses all the time, which I complete at my own pace. I believe it’s a great but overhyped idea, and MOOCs are not a replacement for traditional students and universities.

Meanwhile, I stand by my take on MOOCs two years ago – Are MOOCs A Disruptive Innovation?

Suggested Readings:

Design Of Everyday Things: Faucets

16 Jan

Bad design
A few years ago, at Cincinnati/Norther Kentucky airport restroom, I saw a sign above the wash basins that read something like this – “The faucet may not operate if your clothes are dark colored”. This was a classic example of a designer hellbent on incorporating the sensor technology into a product without thinking about the end user. If you wore dark clothes and wanted to wash your hands, you were out of luck! Fortunately, those faucets are gone now.

Another bad design
In my office, the faucets in the restroom dispense water if you place your hands below them, which is fine if you want the water to flow for about 10 seconds after which the faucet shuts off. It intelligently assumes that nobody needs water flowing for more than 10 seconds. You have to wave your hands again to get the water flowing again. Or, as someone told me, you can tap the top of the faucets to get water. There is absolutely no way for anyone to figure out that tapping the faucet can get you water! An absence of signifiers.
faucetThe faucets look elegant; however, there is no way to control the temperature of water. If you want cold water or hot water, you are out of luck! The same faucets on the first floor restroom dispense almost hot water. And there is no way to reduce the flow of hot water or control the temperature of water.

Good design
I see a great design of faucets in my gym. The faucets look beautiful with the sensor clearly visible at the front so I know where I should place my hands. There is small lever to control the flow of hot water. The water keeps flowing as long as you need it. Simple, obvious, and elegant. Presence of signifiers.

The Meaningful Life Is A Road Worth Traveling

8 Jan

A Stanford research project explored the key differences between lives of happiness and meaningfulness. While the two are similar, dramatic differences exist – and one should not underestimate the power of meaningfulness. “The quest for meaning is a key part of what makes us human,” the researchers concluded.

Read the article on Stanford News