mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
MOOCs Killing Lectures at Duke?


Duke University’s first year MOOC offerings through the Coursera platform have been successful, attracting over 725,000 students from all across the world. And though Duke is enthusiastic to continue its experiments with online-only courses, the really interesting outgrowths of its success are the changes coming down the pike for Duke’s resident, paying students: after their largely positive experience with Coursera, professors are beginning to think out of the box and to adapt some very MOOC-like features for their traditional courses.

Information Week:

The big shift: far fewer in-class lectures. Students will watch the lectures on Coursera beginning Monday. “Class will become a time for activities and also teamwork,” said Sinnott-Armstrong. He’s devised exercises to help on-campus students engage with the concepts in the class, including a college bowl-like competition, a murder mystery night and a scavenger hunt, all to help students develop a deeper understanding of the material presented in the lectures.

“You can have these fun activities in the classroom when you’re not wasting the classroom time with the lectures,” he said. Neta is also moving away from in-class lectures.

Anyone who’s had to sit through an intro-level lecture in a classroom the size of an auditorium as a freshman or sophomore understands that this new arrangement could very well be an improvement. Though we’re a little skeptical about the gamification aspects alluded to in the article—we shouldn’t be fooling our students that there are shortcuts and substitutes to hitting the books—freeing up scheduled lecture time for more interactions with professors and TAs sounds like a smart move.  Freeing professors from delivering the same identical lecture year after year and giving them time to focus on higher value-add activities like running more smaller, advanced seminars could also prove to be a very good thing.

The online-ed revolution is rapidly transforming the college experience, and the changes are only beginning. Those who pooh-pooh the transformative potential of these technologies haven’t grasped just how early we are in the process.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service