The students text-message during class, send e-mails to teachers with grammar and spelling errors, and act “unfocused.” (For the “unfocused” part, the researchers said they started hearing comments a few years ago from employers about workers lacking “focus,” so they included a direct item in the questionnaire on it.) Faculty members identify parents as the main cause, though American culture in general and grade inflation in high school also receive blame.
End of semester is getting to me.
The school has an unconventional take on the iPad’s purpose. The devices are not really valued as portable screens or mobile gaming devices. Teachers I talked to seemed uninterested, almost dismissive, of animations and gamelike apps. Instead, the tablets were intended to be used as video cameras, audio recorders, and multimedia notebooks of individual students’ creations. The teachers cared most about how the devices could capture moments that told stories about their students’ experiences in school. Instead of focusing on what was coming out of the iPad, they were focused on what was going into it.
The company wants to be a “hybrid university.” Its students would gather in dorms in major cities across the world, and after spending time together in one city, move to another, but take online classes from Minerva professors on the other end of the screen.
Call me interested.
The Luddite in me is inclined to think that the techno-dreamers are headed for another disappointment. But this time around, something does seem different—and it’s not just that the MOOC pioneers have an infectious excitement rarely found in a typical faculty meeting. They also have a striking public-spiritedness. Koller sees a future in which a math prodigy in a developing country might nurture his or her gifts online and then, having been identified by a leading university, enroll in person—on a scholarship, one might imagine, funded by income derived from Coursera. This idea of using online courses as a detection tool is a reprise (on a much larger scale) of the one that spurred the development of standardized tests in the mid-twentieth century, such as the SAT, which was originally envisioned as a means for finding gifted students outside the usual Ivy League “feeder” schools.
"If online interaction is as good as claimed, why are chief executive officers of MOOC companies going on roadshows to sell their products? Interactive webinars should suffice, shouldn’t they? The roadshows, I was told by an enthusiastic colleague, provide the MOOC CEOs with “real interaction with the faculty.” So professors need “real interaction” with MOOC executives but not with MOOC students?"
— Dumbed-Down Math and Other Perils of Online College - Bloomberg
Sure, a few free, open, online courses have generated eye-popping registration numbers, upwards of 200,000 in some cases. However the average enrollment for MOOCs is more like 30,000 to 50,000. The real problem, though, is that more than 90% of these would-be learners don’t finish. Many don’t even start the courses for which they are registered. And a lot of those who finish don’t take another one. That means the number of people actually learning anything substantial is much less massive than the PR suggests.
College is very important in that you’re forced to study stuff you’re not interested in… I’ve hired a lot of very talented programmers, and one of the things I discovered was that the people who didn’t graduate from college couldn’t finish projects. Because when you go to college, there’s all sorts of stupid stuff you have to do in order to get through.
…..Perhaps many Thiel fellows will one day face the predicament that, in the New Yorker’s account, confronted Swartz: “if you can do anything you want, then every day becomes an existential problem, an empty space of possibility that has no ceiling but also no walls and no floor.”
WHEN I LOOK BACK at my education, I am struck not by how much I learned but by how much I was taught. I am the progeny of teachers; I swoon over teachers. Even what I learned on my own I owed to them, because they guided me in my sense of what is significant. The only form of knowledge that can be adequately acquired without the help of a teacher, and without the humility of a student, is information, which is the lowest form of knowledge. (And in these nightmarishly data-glutted days, the winnowing of information may also require the masterly hand of someone who knows more and better.) Yet the prestige of teachers in America keeps sinking. In the debate about the reform of the public schools, the virulent denigration of teachers is regarded as advanced opinion.
Let’s turn away from the mythical percentage of students who are so self-directed that things like “instruction” only get in their way. What about students who require and benefit from reinforcement, encouragement, direction, and/or externally-imposed discipline? They will not get it, and many will not continue their education. They will fail, or at least the ones who don’t learn to be more self-reliant and independent. Now, you may or may not think this is a bad thing; after all, there are those who think too many people are getting a college education, and that only snobs think a universal college education is something to aspire towards. I am not one of those people. I am not one of those people because I do not think the primary function of a college education is its function as a gatekeeping institution, charged with the task of separating the hewers of wood and drawers of water from their managers and masters.
Okay, fine, but let’s get this straight: public money has been mercilessly hacked from California’s education budget for decades, so now we are to give public money, taxpayer money, to private, for-profit companies to take up the slack? Because that is exactly what is happening. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just fund education to the levels we had back when it was working?
UH NO, SHUT UP.
One board member, looking at the results, is seen saying, “I feel that I have let down the students in our state because all those kids in our schools right now, when they get to college, they’re going to learn the real history.”
Yeah. Way to prepare your students for the real world.
"But higher education should not be about informing the
student. It should be about inspiring the student to learn. The
promise of online education cannot be delivered without
personal student–teacher contact, and this type of instruction
is costly. Preparing online materials of high quality does not
come cheaply either. I wholeheartedly agree with what the
distinguished Princeton University historian Anthony Grafton wrote:
“The problem with these remedies is simple: one
ends up destroying the village in order to save it. Online
teaching can work very well—but doing it properly, with skilled
consultants available to help students personally at any time, is
not cheap, and doing it cheaply does not yield good results.
Online education, when provided without such backup, is
another and a nobler word for extorting tuition money for
In her examination of Arizona’s 50 largest nonprofit charter schools and all of Arizona’s nonprofit charter schools with assets exceeding $10 million, Ryman found “at least 17 contracts or arrangements, totaling more than $70 million over five years and involving about 40 school sites, in which money from the non-profit charter school went to for-profit or non-profit companies run by board members, executives or their relatives.” That says to me that in Arizona, at least, charter-school corruption isn’t the exception. It’s the rule. And that’s just in the nonprofit charter schools. Documentation for the for-profit schools is not publicly available. What are the odds that charter-school proprietors operating in the dark are less inclined to enrich themselves at public expense?
Tabarrok acknowledges the value of the “college experience,” but he makes a mistake in distinguishing it from what happens in a course. Courses don’t end when the lecture is over and the book is closed. They are essential and embedded parts of a rich, humane project. Sometimes courses are the least important element of the process of education. Some people, like Bruce Springsteen, learn more from the three-minute record, baby, than they ever learned in school. But many of us would not have encountered that three-minute record without the social and intellectual petri dish we call the American university campus.
The best way to increase the quality of teaching is to increase the number of students taught by the best teachers. Online education leverages the power of the best teachers, allowing them to teach many more students. Moreover, online education means that we also see the best at their best.
Maybe…good series though.