So says Daphne Koller on the challenges of adapting MOOC technology to teach humanities courses. (Many thanks to Jonathan Rees of More or Less Bunk for alerting me to this story. While you’re there, don’t miss his post on “This is How MOOCs End.”)
What Koller really means is that we need not adapt MOOCs to the humanities. We need to adapt the humanities to the limits and demands of MOOCworld, which operates on the assumption that everything we need to know about student progress and achievement can be effectively measured by essay-grading software and multiple-choice quizzes and exams. Who knew that some people read Charles Dickens’s Hard Times not as a critique of the industrial era and the notion that everything (including education) can be automated, but rather see it as a blueprint for modern educational instruction?
I guess they’re the kind of people who didn’t learn in humanities classes about little things like “satire” and “irony.” I don’t know about you, but that ain’t the humanities that I know, and that sure as heck isn’t the way we teach them in face-to-face classes. I haven’t given a scantron quiz since 2004, and I’ve never in my entire career administered a midterm or final exam that had multiple-choice answers. That’s what a humanities education looks like, friends.
Why is it that every time I read or write about MOOCs, the other famous film clip that came to mind is this classic from The Twilight Zone? It’s a cookbook! That’s how MOOCs are serving education! OK, now it’s your turn.