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How MOOCs Are Beating Universities at Their Own Game

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Consider this: the average annual tuition for out-of-state students at a public four-year college is $23,890, not including housing, food, books, supplies, and other necessities. As education-related expenses reach sky-high numbers and continue to rise, many critics have begun to question if attending university is actually the sound investment it was always thought to be. Students too are growing increasingly more skeptical, causing many young adults to seek alternative options for affordable education.

Luckily for them, it’s never been easier to learn outside of the classroom setting, thanks to massive open online courses – or MOOCs for short – that facilitate distance learning with unlimited participation and universal access through the web. Just like a traditional university, MOOCs come equipped with filmed lectures, problem sets, course readings, and user forums where students and instructors can collaborate and communicate.

The open online model continues to proliferate in higher education and the number of MOOCs is steadily increasing, offering a number of advantages over the traditional higher education model.    

 

Free or Low-Cost Service

Students today are continuously reminded by their parents that college wasn’t nearly as expensive “back in their day.” However irritating this may be, it is absolutely correct. Even when adjusted for inflation, college tuition has surged over the course of the last 30 years, rising by over 200% from 1987 to 2017, resulting in 44 million Americans owing a whopping 1.48 trillion dollars in student loan debt.

The government doesn’t appear to be doing much to alleviate this burden. After three decades of spending cuts at the state level, public colleges have seen a 25% decline in funding per student, meaning many universities simply lack the budget to offer online courses for free.

Moreover, for many graduates, college doesn’t always prove to be worth the massive financial investment. This sentiment is reflected in public opinion, as 60% of Americans believe that colleges and universities are unable to provide students with good value for their money. MOOCs, on the other hand, are tuition-free or charge a minimal fee in comparison to a typical college. Students can take classes in a variety of fields without feeling weighed down by massive debts.

 

Flexibility and Personalization

MOOCs represent a disruptive innovation in education. They’re both flexible and accessible, allowing students to learn when and how they want. They also offer a diverse range of materials to appeal to all types of learning styles and abilities. Entirely online platforms support a plethora of options, from interactive quiz questions to closed-captioned video lectures.

To attract students, universities must find ways to incorporate digital elements into course structure. In-person classes aren’t enough anymore – there must be an online component that offers students the same engaging versatility that they have grown accustomed to outside of the classroom.

MOOCs also leverage machine learning algorithms to better understand what students want out of a course. Through data analysis, MOOC providers can predict students’ needs and then provide the proper materials that will fit their learning style. In contrast, it is far more difficult for universities to tailor the classroom experience in the same highly personalized and sophisticated manner.

 

Fewer Required Resources

The growing popularity of MOOCs has caused many educators to be concerned about their current and future roles in the ever-changing education landscape. MOOCs are scalable and do not require a multitude of instructors. Hundreds of thousands of students can sign up for a course that only requires a handful of teachers and teaching assistants. In addition, students don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks that will likely not be used again once the course is completed. In the context of MOOCs, all required materials are available online – a far more affordable, not to mention less wasteful, solution.

While distance learning provides unprecedented levels of convenience and flexibility, there are some things a digital platform simply can’t replace. One of these is the personal relationship students once enjoyed with their teachers. Even with online courses offered in a more traditional setting, it’s difficult for instructors to truly get to know the student behind the screen.

As technology continues to revolutionize the world of higher education, universities must embrace these changes and devise proactive plans that capitalize on new developments to stay competitive.

Many universities are facing this challenge head-on by creating their own MOOCs to stay ahead of the game. In true “if you can’t beat them, join them” fashion, prominent universities like Harvard and MIT have created their own MOOCs that are open to the public, with many other schools following their lead. By learning valuable lessons from the flourishing MOOCs, universities can borrow the most successful elements and prove to students that a solid education is truly priceless.

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The Top 8 Advantages of AI-Enabled Legal Transcription

Transcription in law is certainly nothing new. But, this decades-old necessity in the legal system has come a long way from the totally manual processes that were once the industry norm.

Cutting-edge transcription vendors are harnessing developments in AI speech-to-text technology and incorporating the latest advancements into their solutions. All of this helps to boost accuracy to near-perfect levels in order to meet sky-high industry standards in law.

In recent years, the legal industry has experienced a paradigm shift in the delivery model for various services. This model, coined Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) involves delegating various processes, like transcription, to external vendors, allowing law firms and legal departments to minimize costs, increase flexibility and focus on more critical activities. Most importantly, this allows organizations to leverage the latest technologies that are typically not available in-house.

The legal sector heavily relies on audio and video files, as all processes are typically recorded for use in cases. All of these files must be transcribed to maintain accurate records, which have the power to make or break a case. An AI-based solution drastically speeds up this notoriously slow process, giving legal professionals faster access to precise information so that cases can be solved quickly.

Here are the top 8 advantages of AI-enabled transcription for the legal sector:

1. High Accuracy: The use of machine learning algorithms ensure that the technology learns from any mistakes and keeps improving with time, further boosting accuracy

2. Easy: Users can flexibly upload files and download completed transcripts through multiple online channels

3. Fast: Automating the majority of the legal transcription process significantly cuts down on turnaround time and boosts efficiency without compromising on high accuracy

4. Scalability: AI technology reduces turnaround time and enables growth by allowing organizations to transcribe a large volume of files without allocating valuable in-house resources for the task

5. Security: Confidentiality is one of the most significant concerns when it comes to legal transcription. Vendors that leverage AI utilize algorithms to monitor all activity and ensure that only clients have access to their files

6. Customization: Transcription of audio files is done effectively irrespective of the file format and is then delivered in the required template

7. Cost Effective: AI transcription is cheaper than paying the salary for an in-house employee to perform the task. It also enables law professionals to spend their time on core activities that boost profitability

8. 24/7 Availability: A web-based platform can be accessed anytime, regardless of traditional business hours or time differences

 

AI-based transcription technologies also open new opportunities for organizations that can benefit from text-based information derived from audio and video content. This information can provide index and metadata enrichment to be used in other legal processes, such as eDiscovery and document review. Moreover, automated transcription software also reduces the risk for subjective interpretation of legal documents that can affect the outcome of a case.

Despite what sensationalist headlines may suggest, the rise of AI doesn’t mean that robots are out to steal anyone’s job. On the contrary, AI has immense potential to allow law professionals to take on a more strategic role, by leaving tasks like legal transcription to the machines. The purpose of AI, then, is not to replace legal jobs, but rather to augment them with enhanced speed and accuracy.

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