The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How does a professor connect with 100,000 students?

The Wall Street Journal's article "Web Courses Woo Professors" reports on the game-changing developments going on in higher education, especially as a result of MOOC's: Massive Open Online Courses. 

These are being offered by a multiplicity of schools, including MIT, Harvard, and the University of Illinois, as well as new organizations such as Coursera and Udacity.

The good part of these developments is the inexpensive delivery of massive amounts of knowledge to millions, and the opportunity for classroom teachers to assign lectures - hopefully with the best lecturers - to be watched at a student's leisure, while classroom time is left open for discussion and team problem-solving. 

It's not surprising that college education is going this way: between the ridiculous prices and the lack of individual attention at many, many schools, it's just logical to use these new resources.

But what about the MOOC's themselves, as courses? As one student said "It's hard enough for one professor to connect with 200 students in their own classroom. I'd be worried that one professor trying to connect with 100,000 students would be impossible."

Human beings are complex creatures that need a lot of help growing up. Students want and need more than a knowledge transfer; they want mentoring, guidance, and the kind of detailed interaction possible with in-person learning. These are important elements to becoming free and independent, and successful persons. I only hope these facts don't get lost in the education re-shuffling.

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