Online Course Providers; the Missing Piece of the Education System or a Disruption to it?

Digital technology and widespread internet access have revolutionized the education system in the 21st century. As a product of these changes, the massive open online course (MOOC) providers such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity have emerged, each having over a million registered users.

The open access to a vast spectrum of courses has provided an opportunity for people across the globe to affordably seek what they are passionate about. The major concern, however, is that, are these platform able to offer a quality of education equivalent to the traditional institutions?

Dr. Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business Professor, cast the doubt on the suitability of these newcomers and predicted that such disruption to the conventional education system would cause the failure of thousands of universities across the U.S. So far, the prediction of Dr. Christensen does not seem close at all; however, while we are seeing rapid growth in the number of platforms for MOOCs, numerous universities have undergone a flat/declining student enrollment.

In my opinion, the impacts of MOOC providers on the in-person institutions are positive in the long run. The fulfillment of the needs of the education seekers is surely dependent upon the quality of service they receive. If my expectations from an online course are not met, I would likely consider the traditional in-person courses as my priority. The opposite case also holds; the traditional institutions have no choice but to accept the competition which I would believe results in a better education system. Ultimately, these paths of gaining knowledge are not in a boxing ring! They have the chance to modify each other, find their genuine standing, and lead to an equilibrium where the people have the highest chance to flourish their capabilities.

 

Student-advisor: Friendship or master-slave relationship? – Part 1

Since entering graduate school, I have found myself lucky to have a respectful and positive relationship with my advisor (and I hope it goes on like this…). Unlike many other students, the university ranking was not the basis of my decision-making process. I was very picky about the faculty member I was going to work with because I had to face a huge transition. Within a couple of weeks from my graduation as a bachelor student, I started my PhD degree. It is crystal clear that the type and degree of expectations are much more different in the PhD level than bachelor level. Therefore, I could have had a hard time if I were left alone with some research tasks on the first day in the graduate school. In what follows, I will discuss the reason that I felt I should be very careful about my future advisor.

I have been told by many of my friends who were studying at graduate level that their advisers have narrowed down their responsibility to funding and the rest is expectations. I know this is not the case for all faculty members, but in my case, for a student who have had no research experience, leaving the student alone with a burden of tasks could have been catastrophic. This has been a spark in my mind to picture myself as a future advisor. More specifically, how do I want my relationship to be with my students?

news.harvard.edu

Firstly, we all know that we cannot treat everybody the same. In the case of advisors, they have to deal with students with many different backgrounds and personalities. But as a main theme, I prefer to be a type of advisor who keeps the students close and my expectations are not restricted to technical ones. Although it may sound a bit ideal (or impractical) at the first glance, I have reasons to justify my claim. My first reason is that I want my students not to feel scared about a problem they face. The problem can be either in their daily lives or in the path toward their degrees. In this article, I am going to address the role of a perfect advisor in addressing the problems in students’ daily lives.

First and foremost, if my student is suffering from an issue in his/her personal life, this indirectly affect my plans as a faculty member, too; this will turn into my problem if my students are not making progress in their researches. It is my problem, too, if my students are missing the deadlines and do not satisfy our sponsors. Thus, not only as a human being’s duty, but also because of my own interest, I should help them as a friend to overcome their concerns. If I am not a friend of my students, I will only see reflections of their challenges in our research’s unsuccessfulness. But, if my advisees see me as a person who cares about them and tries to help them, I will be more like a true advisor and not a commander…

(To be continued…)

 

IEEE Access Journal: A Brief Overview

 

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the largest association of electrical engineers headquartered in New York City, NY, USA.  On the website of IEEE, it is claimed that IEEE “the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity”.  IEEE constitutes of over 40 societies to address various areas of electrical engineering. Moreover, some societies of IEEE address the interdisciplinary fields of electrical engineering overlapping with other disciplines such as aerospace, geoscience, material science, etc. Each society has its own journal(s), holds several events and conferences and provide a forum to share the most recent technological developments.

While most of the journals published by these societies can be accessed through paid memberships, IEEE Access journal was established in 2013 as an open access journal.  IEEE Access is that it is a multidisciplinary journal covering all areas of electrical engineering and is not limited to a field or two. Therefore, the scope of this journal includes all the electrical engineering fields of interest, and emphasizes on the interdisciplinary applications. The  journal not only accepts technical articles, but also admits review papers and surveys.

IEEE Access has shown a significant growth since its establishment in 2013. As of 2019, the impact factor of this journal has risen from 0 to almost 5 which is higher than numerous journals with decades of publication history.  The figure below demonstrates the evolution of the journal’s impact factor over time.

IEEE Access 2-year Impact Factor Trend

In my opinion, part of the journal’s success is because of the open accessibility and the more visibility of the journal compared to traditional IEEE journals. However, as we all know, not all open access journals have made successful experiences. What characterizes IEEE Access from other open access journals is its rigorous review process. This ensures the technical novelty of the published articles which further adds to the journal’s credibility and reputation. All these reasons along with the fast review process (4-6 weeks) and the reasonable processing charge (US $1750) have made this journal a favorite choice for the authors.