Sign up FAST! Login

Web U


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/opinion/sunday/grading-the-mooc-university.html?src=me&ref=general

Grading the MOOC University - NYTimes.com

But the first thing I learned? When it comes to Massive Open Online Courses, like those offered byCourseraUdacity and edX, you can forget about the Socratic method.

The professor is, in most cases, out of students’ reach, only slightly more accessible than the pope or Thomas Pynchon. Several of my Coursera courses begin by warning students not to e-mail the professor. We are told not to “friend” the professor on Facebook. If you happen to see the professor on the street, avoid all eye contact (well, that last one is more implied than stated). There are, after all, often tens of thousands of students and just one top instructor.

Perhaps my modern history professor, Philip D. Zelikow, of the University of Virginia, put it best in his course introduction, explaining that his class would be a series of “conversations in which we’re going to talk about this course one to one” — except that one side (the student’s) doesn’t “get to talk back directly.” I’m not sure this fits the traditional definition of a conversation.

On the other hand, how can I really complain? I’m getting Ivy League (or Ivy League equivalent) wisdom free. Anyone can, whether you live in South Dakota or Senegal, whether it’s noon or 5 a.m., whether you’re broke or a billionaire. Professors from Harvard, M.I.T. and dozens of other schools prerecord their lectures; you watch them online and take quizzes at your leisure.

Stashed in: Education!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

It just doesn't feel fair to call them classes.

They are speeches.

Classes should be two way.

You May Also Like: