Archive for August 30, 2013

The Two Cultures of Educational Reform – NYTimes.com

(Shoot — I meant to put this on “draft” and come back to it, but hit the wrong button. Sigh.)

Here’s what I thought was interesting about this piece: I agree with Fish’s depiction of “data and experiment culture” about education, and the “ineffable culture,” too.  But his alignment of MOOCs with “data and experiment culture” of MOOCs seems wrong.  Our data about MOOCs says that they’re not working. So, belief in MOOCs is “ineffable.”  It’s about having warm feelings for technology and the hopes for its role in education.

About halfway through his magisterial study “Higher Education in America,” Derek Bok, twice president of Harvard, identifies what he calls the “two different cultures” of educational reform. The first “is an evidence-based approach to education … rooted in the belief that one can best advance teaching and learning by measuring student progress and testing experimental efforts to increase it.” The second “rests on a conviction that effective teaching is an art which one can improve over time through personal experience and intuition without any need for data-driven reforms imposed from above.”

Bok is obviously a member of the data and experiment culture, which makes him cautiously sympathetic to developments in online teaching, including the recent explosion of MOOCs (massive open online courses). But at the same time, he is acutely aware of the limits of what can be tested, measured and assessed, and at crucial moments in his analysis that awareness pushes him in the direction of the other, “ineffable” culture.

via The Two Cultures of Educational Reform – NYTimes.com.

August 30, 2013 at 10:44 am 3 comments

Defining an alternative to MOOCs with a better chance of engaging women

NYTimes just had a nice article about the Georgia Tech online Masters degree program based in MOOCs.  I’m glad that the OMS (Online MS) group is getting that kind of attention.

For my research interests, I’m more excited about the alternative to MOOCs described below.  I am not well-versed in feminist perspectives, but I appreciate the values that are informing Anne Balsamo’s design and do see that this approach has a greater chance of drawing in women (based on research like Joanne Cohoon’s) than traditional MOOCs.

At participating colleges, professors will base their own courses on each weekly theme, sharing course materials and assignments, but customizing them for their own students. The courses will vary, as some are undergraduate and some are graduate, and the institutions see list at right vary widely by mission and geography — including institutions in Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States. The class sizes will be between 15 and 30 students each, decidedly non-massive. “There is another pedagogical commitment here,” Balsamo said. “Who you learn with is as important as what you learn. Learning is a relationship, not just something that can be measured by outcomes or formal metrics.”

via Feminist professors create an alternative to MOOCs | Inside Higher Ed.

August 30, 2013 at 1:37 am Leave a comment


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