Why MOOCs won’t improve diversity in computing
Beki Grinter does a great job in her blog giving a personal account of why MOOCs won’t help address the lack of diversity in computing. Beki’s account (linked below) is a personal one, but it is an instance of a larger story that Joanne Cohoon has been telling for years now, based on a large scale survey of students, faculty, and department chairs. If you want women to persist in graduate computer science, encourage them. The gender of the encourager is not important, but the one-to-one connection is important. As Beki asks, how can you do that in a 50-100K MOOC?
Given the lack of women in academia, particularly in STEM, I wonder whether the pattern of male dominance repeats itself in who offers the MOOC and I wonder what in turn that does to the student population. Perhaps some would say, offer a MOOC, redress it. But, my route into the field was not about volume encounters, but about those that were very personal. Its only maybe four people who made enough of a difference that I got through, but how can any person be that when they have 50,000 students? Also, how can you achieve these intimacies at a distance, across the network as opposed to face-to-face.