Archive for January 7, 2011

MIT OpenCourseware is still Wikipedia

The 2010 statistics on use of MIT OpenCourseware are now out.  When I see that the average number of visits per visitor is less than 2, my sense is that MIT OCW is still more about looking up a single factoid (like Wikipedia), or trying it once then giving up, rather than a place to return frequently for studying.  The blog piece referenced goes on to say that the stats show that people are less frequently downloading whole courses as zip file, and more often looking around.  But a page view count of only 5.63 pages per visit doesn’t sound like a lot of exploration to me.

I’d love to see these stats combined with stats on OpenStudy.  Is it the case that OCW students grab a bit of information, then discuss it over in OpenStudy?  That would be a viable and interesting learning model.  But with just these stats, it still doesn’t look to me like MIT OCW is where students go to learn something deeply. Rather, it’s where you look something up, and not often.

Some high-level numbers from 2010:

17.5 M visits

9.6 M visitors

1.82 visits per visitor

98.3 M page views (actually a little lower than last year, but a sign our site redesign is helping folks to find content faster)

5.63 page views per visit

via Year-end numbers for MIT OpenCourseWare « OpenFiction [Blog].

January 7, 2011 at 11:23 am 4 comments

What’s a century, really? The size of the achievement gap

One of the most common rebuttals that I hear to the efforts of NCWIT and the NSF BPC (Broadening Participation in Computing) program is, “So what if women and minorities don’t want to go into CS?  That’s just their choice, isn’t it?”  Jane Margolis and colleagues responded well to that critique with their Stuck in the Shallow End book that showed how minorities are prevented (by infrastructure, by school schedules, by choices made for bad reasons) from pursuing computing as a career, and accordingly, prevented from getting to the economic rewards of that end of the salary pool — they are stuck “in the shallow end.”

“So, what?” I often hear in response.  “Maybe there’s a few women and minorities that are prevented from going into computing. Aren’t efforts like BPC and NCWIT working?  Aren’t things getting better?”  Just how big is the gap between the majority and the minority in terms of achievement and participation in STEM fields, where the economic rewards are greatest?  A new report just did the achievement analysis, on a state-by-state level.  At current rates, we should be at par in a mere century in some states.  The actual report is here.

For the first time, this report put a date on how long it would take for various achievement gaps to close if trends continue at their current rates (a scenario the report acknowledges is unlikely, because the pace of progress tends to slow as gaps close).

In a state like Florida, which is making comparatively good headway on closing gaps, it would take 28 years to close the African-American/white achievement gap for fourth-grade reading. In Washington State, closing that gap would take 105 years.

via Persistent achievement gap vexes education reformers: Six takeaways – Progress on achievement gaps sluggish – CSMonitor.com.

January 7, 2011 at 11:15 am Leave a comment


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