Thursday, December 29, 2011

The English Approach: Getting Students Through College

Free online courses has been so successful
in Britain, it is being
imported to the United States
to confront one of the biggest challenges
in American higher education:
helping ill-prepared, self-conscious students
adapt to and succeed in college.

This from the Hechinger Report:
When he was 14, Daniel Conn was part of a circle of friends so bright they programmed computer code for fun. One of his classmates went on to work in financial services, while another opened his own business.

But when Conn tried college, he said, “I lost confidence in myself. The exams came and I just freaked out. So I stopped the whole lot.” Every year, he said, he would write to universities for a prospectus, “get completely daunted, and throw it away.”

It was by accident that Conn, now 28, stumbled across free courses offered over the Internet as an experiment by Open University, a British online public university. Not having to pay to try them removed one major obstacle for him; after all, he said, “You’re not going to lose any money.” He could also study where and when he wanted, which helped, too, since he works full time at a car dealership in his English seaside hometown.

Most important of all, Conn found, he was no longer worried he might fail.

“No one would even know that I was looking at the page,” he said over a pint in a Brighton pub. “After a few months, it was, I can actually do this.”...

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