Comments on: Hard Times, indeed. History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 13 Sep 2014 17:48:44 +0000 hourly 1 By: Z Wed, 19 Jun 2013 03:58:13 +0000 P.S. There is a big discussion of this at the LA Review of Books and CIP is a big interlocutor there as well.

By: Z Wed, 12 Jun 2013 23:59:16 +0000 Lindsay,

What they want is this: the university buys access to the prerecorded MOOC lectures from the school that makes those.

Then, students watch those lectures on their own.

Then, in class, a T.A. works on homework problems with them.

See? So, it is almost *exactly* like having a large lecture and then discussion sections to work on problem sets, except that the large lecture is a recording.

So, *if* you have a class that is taught in this way, then the MOOC allegedly replicates this at a much lower cost since you are only paying for the recording of a professor, not the actual professor.

By: Z Wed, 12 Jun 2013 23:54:20 +0000 @CIP “in music performance you can either play the notes or you can’t” … so if you really think that’s all there is to it, why can’t they coach the football team via MOOC?

By: Kathleen Wed, 12 Jun 2013 22:50:06 +0000 As somebody who only scraped through two required semesters of college physics with a tutor, I would like to third this. I was lost during lectures (giant halls of 200) — and really, really quickly lost. Sitting down and doing problem sets with a physics grad student saved my bacon. He was cute, too.

come to think of it, something else MOOCs can’t replicate ;)

By: Lindsay Wed, 12 Jun 2013 21:45:46 +0000 @Aro:

I actually find this notion that if anything could be taught via MOOC then it would be basic math at best to be totally ridiculous.

Me, too. In both my math classes and my math-heavy chemistry and physics classes, there are a lot of ways to get confused about how to solve a particular kind of problem.

It seems to me like you would have to have someone — maybe the professor in office hours or during a discussion of the homework problems that people had the most trouble with, or maybe a TA in a recitation — see how you try to solve the problem, so they can tell you what you’re doing wrong and what to do instead. I have heard the claim that MOOCs can provide this kind of one-on-one attention, but this post I read recently by a math professor taking a Coursera econ class says otherwise.

By: truffula Wed, 12 Jun 2013 21:39:28 +0000 There is in fact interesting research regarding effective online learning. You could look it up if you really care, CIP. For the most part what it says is that effective learning is a community activity and this puts an upper limit on online class size between 15 and 20. Giant live lectures don’t do that either, and I would argue that they are not very effective for learning. At my current university, large lectures are accompanied by small group tutorials so that learning community is cultivated.

I read the online learning literature when my last university department got interested in how to make legitimate use of online tools for teaching in our particular scientific discipline. In the real world we want all of our students to succeed (if possible) and that’s just not the MOOC way. Our analysis did lead to some online teaching: hybrid courses intended to work for as many students as possible, not the lucky few.

By: Historiann Wed, 12 Jun 2013 20:41:07 +0000 CIP: you’ve got your own blog. Why don’t you bother people over there from now on?

I wonder how many humanities proffies go on your blog and bray on about how pointless you are and what a waste of time your job was? You’re a jerk, and you’re no longer welcome here.

(In case you hadn’t noticed, I stopped responding to any of your comments on Rees’s blog weeks ago. I am sorry if you took those comments to be an invitation to continue the discussion over here. Very sorry.)

By: CIP Wed, 12 Jun 2013 18:59:05 +0000 @ARO 11:10 –

Oh yeah, and last I checked, I think most people agree that MOOC’s deserve their place next to teach-yourself-Hungarian CD’s, …

You might want to check beyond the cozy confines of the denial central echo chamber…

By: CIP Wed, 12 Jun 2013 18:49:12 +0000 @ARO 11:07

Re: your para 1. I’ve actually taught calculus, and it doesn’t strike me as an easy course to MOOC, but I haven’t looked into the online ones yet.

#2. Agree, and I would hate to see traditional U’s disappear, but I’m not impressed with the quality of defense I’m seeing.

#3. Easy to say but tougher to demonstrate. MOOCs have been very good at motivating people to sign up – about 5 million have. Some people love them and have already completed 10 or more MOOC courses. They are by no means all superannuated PhD’s. There are plenty of people who don’t like going to class and listening to TAs. One national merit scholar I know, who went to one of the nation’s most elite schools, almost never went to class because he found them a waste of time. He graduated with honors.

#4 Everybody wants to feel special, but when articles of manufacture were each created by an individual artisan, they were kind of personal too. It’s precisely those who value their own time and effort who have the least patience with sitting in a classroom with a bunch of people who ask stupid questions or waste time showing off.

The reasons MOOCs are different from previous automated education, by the way, is that they harness the considerable power of artificial intelligence in educating people. Computers are already smarter than people in lots of tasks thought to require high human intelligence, from reading electrocardiograms to playing chess. Education is in the crosshairs.

By: CIP Wed, 12 Jun 2013 18:26:25 +0000 @Kathleen 7:47

Now there are some who might suspect that 19 year-olds choosing among free posters might not be the perfect model for making decisions affecting that state of society, but even it were, it would just say that in the end the intuitions of humanities professors might count for less than what can be quantified in dollars and test scores.