The Walls Come Down
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  • Kelly Colgan Azar

    Hurrah! I feel I’ve taken the red pill myself, just reading the post, and I’m 62. Very exciting prospect for education in the U.S. and the world.

  • And of course good teaching professors can just do it on their own:

    http://johnhawks.net/courses/principles/spring-2012-lecture-7-eyes

  • RedWell

    Forget pills, what is WRM smoking? Massive courses are fine for communicating information on many topics, but is that really “education”? And for young people, doesn’t important socialization occur on campus and in class, not with headphones in front of a screen? Certainly WRM has highlighted–and participated in–the value of in-depth liberal education, so I’m curious how that vision fits with the impersonal mass production we get from MIT.

    Though WRM warns that no silver bullet will help US higher ed adjust into the future, these posts (another, for example, http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/11/06/where-have-all-the-chemists-gone/) about online lectures and STEM degrees feel an awful lot like magical thinking.

  • Kris

    Positive news, but: Udacity? Udemy? Ugh!

  • JKB

    “…including a Facebook group, online discussions and an army of volunteer translators…”

    That right there is the future of education. The real value of the university was the pooling of individuals in synch in pursuing some topic. The real learning takes place in their group work. Think they “study groups” which seem to be the center of every law school movie. Some schools promote this, others leave students to possibly find their own way. As we see, it is possible to have a study group online across the internet. In this method, the professor is more coach than oracle of knowledge. Rather than test memorization, their questions are to spark discussion. I could see a massive online class with online discussions with more knowledgeable moderators to keep things focused and a professor who coaches these groups not as the all-knowing expert but as the one who has a better handle on the larger picture.

    This isn’t new. A hundred years ago, the problem method of teaching was being promoted. It is still lingers but as it isn’t formally taught students get conditioned to lecture-memorization-exam. True, college tries to break this habit but it would be better if we stopped breaking kids in the first place. In three to five years of formal education, a good portion of the divergent thinking ability has been educated out of kids. By high school, very few have survived. Most are hard conditioned into “school helplessness”, the passive learning of the classroom lecture.

    There is a downside to this method. Developing freedom of thought, self-organization, and open discussion of topics in students, does not create good cattle for political manipulations but it does create good citizens for real democracy.

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