#b#Energy Concerns#/b#

AARP agrees that we need to move to greener, more environmentally friendly forms of energy generation. However, we need to avoid creating a problem while we are working toward this goal: we need to avoid burdening the people who pay utility bills with the costs of moving to new technologies — those should be the responsibility of the utility companies, not their customers.

Yet PSE&G and the Board of Public Utilities are discussing a proposal that will allow the utility giant to unfairly charge its customers $450 million to pay for its new solar energy generation project. This means that NJ utility bill payers, already paying the seventh highest bills in the country, will not only be shouldering the burden of paying for energy generation projects that are not their responsibility, but also will be funding the swelling bottom line of PSE&G by as much as $45 million along the way.

This solar energy program costs too much, helps too few, and, ultimately, is not the bill payers’ responsibility to pay for.

Dave Mollen

AARP New Jersey State President

#b#Hopes for the Future of Online Education#/b#

Dan Aubrey’s article, “Study Abroad — From the Comfort of Home,” in the April 24 issue of U.S. 1 was a helpful one: I’ve been considering signing up for a Coursera class but haven’t pulled the trigger. In part it’s because I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I wondered if I could commit to a real class rather than “infotainment.” The article has helped set my expectations and perhaps has given me permission to sign up without worrying about the grade.

Massive Open Online Courses can play an important role in continuing education. Before moving to central New Jersey, one of the things I loved about living in Manhattan was that I could sign up for just about any class at the New School for only a few hundred dollars and take it not-for-credit (and cancel after the first week if the instructor was bad!). With the goal of rounding out what had been a very engineering-focused undergraduate education, I took a variety of philosophy courses, of Spanish, art history and art technique, psychology, and even Neurobiology 101.

There’s an interesting dynamic in these sorts of classes: the “continuing learners” are there because they want to be and hope to learn as much as possible, whereas many of the college students are there because they need the credit and want the class to be as easy as possible. Now that the New School is no longer within walking distance, MOOCs, especially if they are free, could allow for continued lifelong learning.

Hopefully, one of the outcomes from the online education revolution will be a raising of the bar in terms of teaching quality. I’ve audited four or five courses at Princeton and other “elite” universities, and I have been repeatedly shocked at how bad some of the instruction is. Remembering my own undergraduate education, I was often frustrated by professors who might have been brilliant researchers but were terrible teachers. In a traditional college, students are often required to take classes with bad teachers. If a professor does a poor job online, 100,000 people might start spreading the word that the class is terrible. Perhaps only the best classes will survive.

This could lead to one massive “problem”: What if, over time, the very best lectures from the very best professors are all recorded? Are the professors needed anymore? Could the class be given in the future just by playing the lecture and having a bunch of grad students serve as administrators?

Andrew Werth

Princeton Junction

Werth is an artist and former computer engineer.

#b#PSRC Gives Thanks#/b#

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and everyone at the Princeton Senior Resource Center we thank those who helped make this year’s Brunch at Home a success.

A particular heads up goes to Bloomberg, which encourages employees to volunteer. This year 18 Bloomberg employees worked Brunch at Home, as did employees from Bobst Center for Peace and Justice at Princeton University.

We are especially grateful for the support of our sponsors: Acorn Glen, AARP, Princeton Windrows, Buckingham Place, Wells Fargo, Brandywine Senior Living, Merwick Care & Rehabilitation Center, Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP; Bear Creek Assisted Living, Avalon Assisted Living, LIFE St. Francis, Massage Envy Spa, McCaffrey’s, Dunkin Donuts, ETS/Chauncey Conference Center, IQuisine, Trader Joe’s, Bill Miller, WWFM, Olives, Memory Care Living, Green Mountain Coffee, Bagel Barn, Dave Saltzman Insurance, Robinson’s Chocolates, Wegman’s, Heidi Joseph-Fox & Roach, Roberts Florals, Alfonso’s Pizza, Main Street, Freedom Home Healthcare.

Susan W. Hoskins

Executive Director, PSRC

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