Moving On…

Month: July, 2012

Price of Education

With the recent  Coursera and The University of Toronto announcement stating that they will be working together to offer several of their courses for free online, I was reminded of a tweet from a while ago because the courses will not be for credit.

Maybe ‘value’ was the wrong word, but the idea that you need to pay an institution so you can get an education is fading.

Higher education still has a place in the certification of individuals.

The University of Washington has announced that it plans to offer some ‘for credit’ classes through Coursera, but these will come with a fee attached. Roughly the same fee as attending the same class on campus.

What do you get with that fee? “The for credit Coursera courses would be enhanced with direct, online communication with the instructor, and students would take monitored exams.” I assume much of the work here is in monitoring exams so that UW can put their stamp of approval on your education.

Even if you look at google for another example, their Google Testing Center. All the required information for the tests is provided on the learning site, but to become certified there is a test with a small fee.

What’s the biggest threat to post secondary institutions?

Very simply, the biggest threat is themselves. If a college or university lets their standards slide, the value of the education they sell falls.

Looking around my class when I was at college (yes, a long time ago) I saw ‘D’ students struggling to get a passing mark, but they have the same diploma hanging on their wall that I do.

Recently, I have heard rumours that teachers are under pressure to pass students to keep their program’s enrolment up.

This mentality could (and should) be the death blow to the program.

Why do people hire young students from Ivey, Yale, Princeton, etc? Because those institutions only admit the brightest and hardest working and are not afraid to cut those who don’t meet their criteria.

How to Train Your Dragon – Review July 5, 2012

Last night my family and I attended the “How to Train Your Dragon – Live Spectacular” at the John Labatt Centre.

We had first heard about the event from the various appearances made by one of the characters and one of the baby dragons around London. Hearing they would be at Victoria Park for the Kids Expo we headed down after picking Ethan up from school.

The short presentation was impressive, to say the least. The viking did a fantastic job interacting with and entertaining the crowd, then introducing everyone to Baby Nadder.

Baby Nadder and Sig at Victoria Park.

After the meeting in Victoria Park, Ethan decided the dragons were too scary to see again, so we put the idea of going to the show on the back burner but still checked out ticket prices to see how much they were.

At over $100 for the three of us (at minimum) to see the dragons it was too much to risk with an autistic son who may decide that he wants to go home during the first five minutes. We decided to pass.

Which leads us to Thursday, I get a text from Julie asking if I want to go see the show on Thursday night because Autism Ontario was giving away a few tickets for free! SCORE!

After a quick bite to eat after work we hurried to gate 5 at the JLC, took two escalators to the 300 level and attempted to take our seats.

Yes, attempted.

Seating wouldn’t be happening until 6:30, another 30 minutes after gates opened. Okay, so we grab a drink and wait.

And wait.

Word gets around that there is a technical difficulty keeping everyone from being allowed to sit. Waiting in the hallway with a crowd of anxious kids was not all that pleasant.

At 7:10 we were finally seated.

The show started around half an hour late, but at least it started. The Wednesday show was completely cancelled.

Once the show began we were treated to some pretty spectacular effects.

The use of a video wall and a suspended Hiccup to give us a top down view of him running through his village during a dragon attack really showed the ingenuity of the production.

The young dragon slayers (particularly Astrid) were very talented and incredibly athletic. Often cartwheel-ing, handspring-ing or dancing into action.

The dragons were extremely lifelike. In an incredible moment, Toothless even “flew” around the arena with Hiccup on his back.

How to Train Your Dragon at the JLC

Unfortunately the story was a hurried rehashing of the movie, but maybe that was a good thing because the audio was garbled which made dialogue difficult to follow (this was possibly due to our seating location).

Ethan decided he was tired and wanted to go home at the intermission, and we were fine with that. Happy he even made it through the first five minutes of being asked to sit still, flashing lights and loud noises.

We really enjoyed the show despite the few rough spots.

Again, I want to thank Autism Ontario for giving my family the opportunity to attend this event that we wouldn’t have risked the money on otherwise.