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Why Virtual Classes Can Be Better Than Real Ones - Nautilus

Why Virtual Classes Can Be Better Than Real Ones - Nautilus | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
I teach one of the world’s most popular MOOCs (massive online open courses), “Learning How to Learn,” with neuroscientist Terrence…
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I would venture to say most MOOC deniers have little experience with creating and teaching online courses. The reality is MOOCs can be artistically and technically fascinating and can have terrific pedagogical advantages. This is particularly true in the fraught area of STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Math), where difficult explanations often cry out for a student to replay a portion of a lecture, or simply to take a pause while comprehension works its way to consciousness. As for those dropout rates, Keith Devlin, a mathematician at Stanford University, has pointed out that some widely cited papers on MOOC attrition have depended on traditional metrics of higher education that are “entirely misleading.” People sign up for MOOCs for different reasons than they do for traditional college classes. “A great many never intend to complete the course,” Devlin writes. They “come looking for an education. Pure and simple.”

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An Open Letter to Professor Michael Sandel from the Philosophy Department at San José State University

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The "Open Letter to Professor Michael Sandel from the Philosophy Department at San José State University" is making the rounds of the online discussion about the use of MOOCs and the inherent flaws of online education re standardization (of content, pedagogy and methods) and reification of student-teacher relations.

"(...) in a high quality course, the professor teaching it must be able both to design the course and to choose its materials, and to interact closely with the students. The first option is not available in a pre-packaged course, and the second option is at grave risk if we move toward MOOCs.

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We respect your desire to expand opportunities for higher education to audiences that do not now have the chance to interact with new ideas. We are very cognizant of your long and distinguished record of scholarship and teaching in the areas of political philosophy and ethics. It is in a spirit of respect and collegiality that we are urging you, and all professors involved with the sale and promotion of edX-style courses, not to take away from students in public universities the opportunity for an education beyond mere jobs training. Professors who care about public education should not produce products that will replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities."

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Massive Open Online Courses in the Developing World | MIT Technology Review

Massive Open Online Courses in the Developing World | MIT Technology Review | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

"How a teacher in El Salvador became an advocate of massive open online courses, and why hardly anyone listens to him yet.

(...) While MOOCs could be an opportunity to improve education in poor regions, they’re also profoundly threatening to bad professors and to weak institutions."

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Nathan Heller: Is College Moving Online?

Nathan Heller: Is College Moving Online? | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Many people think that massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are the future of higher education in America.
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The New Yorker's Nathan Heller's excellent piece on MOOCs.

 

"On the one hand, if schools like Harvard and Stanford become the Starbucks and Peet’s of higher education, offering sophisticated branded courses at the campus nearest you, bright students at all levels will have access. But very few of these students will ever have a chance to touch these distant shores. And touch, historically, has been a crucial part of élite education.

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Meanwhile, smaller institutions could be eclipsed, or reduced to dependencies of the standing powers.

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Just how much is lost has lately been a subject of debate. At Harvard, as elsewhere, MOOC designers acknowledge that the humanities pose special difficulties. When David J. Malan, who teaches Harvard’s popular and demanding introduction to programming, “Computer Science 50,” turned the course into a MOOC, student assessment wasn’t especially difficult: the assignments are programs, and their success can be graded automatically. Not so in courses like Nagy’s, which traditionally turned on essay-writing and discussion. Nagy and Michael Sandel are deploying online discussion boards to simulate classroom conversation, yet the results aren’t always encouraging.

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“Two features that can be found in most of this recent wave of online courses are: first, what could be described variously as the ‘guru on the mountaintop,’ or the ‘broadcast model,’ or the ‘one-to-many model,’ or the ‘TV model,’ ” [William Fisher] said. Fisher has a shock of strawberry-blond hair. He was wearing a pin-striped suit and, incongruously, tan hiking boots. “The basic idea here is that an expert in the field speaks to the masses, who absorb his or her wisdom. The second feature is that, to the extent that learning requires some degree of interactivity, that interactivity is channelled into formats that require automated or right-and-wrong answers.

“I think this fails to capitalize on many of the most important advantages of new technologies vis-à-vis education,” Fisher said. “It’s possible that it’s optimal for math, computer science, and the hard natural sciences. I don’t teach those things, so I’m not sure. But I’m pretty sure it’s not optimal for social sciences, humanities, and law. So I wanted to try a different technique.”

 

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Size Isn't Everything - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Size Isn't Everything - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
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