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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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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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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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The Textbook Is Dying. Meet the Artificially Intelligent Software That’s Replacing It. 

The Textbook Is Dying. Meet the Artificially Intelligent Software That’s Replacing It.  | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Artificially intelligent software is replacing the textbook—and reshaping American education.
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The rise of adaptive learning in connected classrooms.

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ALEKS starts everyone at the same point. But from the moment students begin to answer the practice questions that it automatically generates for them, ALEKS’ machine-learning algorithms are analyzing their responses to figure out which concepts they understand and which they don’t. A few wrong answers to a given type of question, and the program may prompt them to read some background materials, watch a short video lecture, or view some hints on what they might be doing wrong. But if they’re breezing through a set of questions on, say, linear inequalities, it may whisk them on to polynomials and factoring. Master that, and ALEKS will ask if they’re ready to take a test. Pass, and they’re on to exponents—unless they’d prefer to take a detour into a different topic, like data analysis and probability. So long as they’ve mastered the prerequisites, which topic comes next is up to them.

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One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing Education

One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing Education | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

The Khan Academy, which features 3,400 short instructional videos along with interactive quizzes and tools for teachers to chart student progress, is a nonprofit, boasting a mission of 'a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.'


Via Luca Baptista
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