Tuesday, August 7, 2012

100,000 students! Are you kidding me?

Maybe you have some of the same questions I have about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). You know, the ones like those out of Stanford and Yale among other places. I've taught online, and I know how demanding it is to give individual attention to every student even if you only have 20 enrolled. So.
  • How can you possibly respond to 100,000 students? 
  • How do you grade that many papers or exams? 
  • How can you give immediate feedback to that many people? 
  • What kind of rigor is involved? 
  • How could it possibly match up to a real university course? 
  • That kind of course couldn't possibly be personalized, can it? 
  • A discussion board for 100,000 students has to be a nightmare to monitor, even if you split then into groups. 
  • So how do students interact with each other? 
  • How can these courses use active learning strategies?
  • Do people really learn demonstrable skills from these things?
Any of those your questions, too? Before you decide that such a large online course is just a watch-this-do-that endeavor, watch this presentation by Daphne Koller, Stanford professor and founder of Coursera. I found it very enlightening.

So now, do I fear for the future of online programs here at WVU? No. There's still the value of a degree from an accredited university. But I expect Coursera and it's cousins will definitely have an impact as we go forward.

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