MOOC Fever Breaks
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  • One other element in the “smart kid getting lots of attention”: simple human emotions. Who would you rather interact with: an academic all-star who is eager to learn and whose face lights up with gratitude as they learn something new, or a struggling urban kid who alternates between giving you attitude and grudgingly doing what you and they know needs to be done? The latter needs help far more than the former, but is far less pleasant to be around.

    I saw this in my own rather urban high school growing up: guidance counselors loved the smart, pleasant kids from good families, and went out of their way to help them. The kids “on the bubble” were left to sink or swim.

  • Hubbub

    “If MOOCs can deliver a similar level of education at a fraction of the cost…”

    Don’t hold your breath on this happening. We will probably get less or the same amount of service for the same or greater amount of money. Don’t count on ‘on-line’ anything costing less by the time the dust settles.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    It seems to me that a certain amount of regimentation is going to be necessary. In school you have to go to classes, so a daily requirement of say 2-15 min periods of study might be required, as part of the grade. This would force frequent review of the material. Requirements for homework, quizzes, and tests should also all be part of the grade, and heavy review work before the final, should be part of the curriculum. Charge people a small fee for the class, but boot them out of the class if they fail to perform the requirements. By demanding frequent participation, and forcing booties to pony up again and start over, students could adjust to online learning.

    I think a study of those who failed, will show that they burned through the material in big gulps, instead of the frequent tiny sips that force the mind to recall previous material which implants that material into long term memory. It is the act of recalling something from short term memory, which sets it into long term memory.

  • ljgude

    Seen through an Australian lens MOOCs are just distance education which we have been doing here since the 20s with the School of the Air which delivered a hybrid of what we now call home schooling and teacher contact via shortwave radio to individual children and their parents. The parent playing the role of the teaching assistant in your example from land grant colleges above. More recently I did some research on distance education in Australia in the 90s where the difficult problem of delivering education to remote Aboriginal communities was greatly enhanced by hiring a community member for the teaching assistant role while the teacher remained in their regular urban setting and only visited the community once during the semester. The key here was bridging the cultural gap by having the teaching assistant deal with the realities of remote community life while making sure everyone had the right class information and things ran smoothly. The actual live teacher student interaction was through a high quality conference phone in the remote classroom once or more a week. Printed workbooks and exams were assessed by light pen which automated a lot of the teachers workload. It worked. The results were as good as on campus courses and the cost per credit hour were also the same. My point – some of the teething problems with MOOCS were solved 20 years ago in Australia and a lot of the possibilities for using computers to change education are being done right now in the third world. Check out Alex Lindsay and the Rwanda project. That entire country is skipping over the industrial age and going direct to digital education. Whammo!

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