Entrepreneurial MOOCs to teach CS: Different values, different evaluation
Lisa Kaczmarczyk wrote a blog post about a bunch of the private, for-profit groups teaching CS who visited the ACM Education Council meeting on Nov. 2. I quoted below the section where the Ed Council asked tough questions about evaluation. I wonder if the private efforts to educate mean the same things about evaluation as the academic and research folks mean by “evaluation.” There are different goals and different value systems between each. Learning for all in public education is very different from a privatized MOOC where it’s perfectly okay for 1-10% to complete.
Of course there was controversy; members of the Ed Council asked all of the panelists some tough questions. One recurrent theme had to do with how they know what they are doing works. Evaluation how? what kind? what makes sense? what is practical? is an ongoing challenge in any pedagogical setting and when you are talking about a startup as 3 out of the 4 companies on the panel were in the fast paced world of high tech – its tricky. Some panelists addressed this question better than others. Needless to say I spent quite a bit of time on this – it was one of the longer topics of discussion over dinner at my table.
Neil Fraser from Googles Blockly project said some things that were unquestionably controversial. The one that really got me was when he said several times, and with followup detail that one of the things they had learned was to ignore user feedback. I can’t remember his exact words after that but the idea seemed to be that users didnt know what was best for them. Coming on the heels of earlier comments that were less than tactful about computing degree programs and their graduates … I have to give Neil credit for having the guts to share his views.