Massive open online courses shake up the way professors teach traditional classes.
10 Cool Back-To-School Tech Tools
(click image for larger view)
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) may not yet be driving down tuition, but they're starting to kill the traditional lecture class.
At Duke University, professors who teach MOOCs tend to go back and do a radical revision of their on-campus classes.
"That's true for at least half the faculty who developed MOOC classes," said Lynne M. O'Brien, Duke's associate vice provost for digital and online education initiatives. She said this was no surprise: MOOCs free professors from constraints required by for-credit classes, like length and format. "People are free to innovate in ways you can't do with a typical course," she said.
A case in point is the class on logic and critical reasoning taught by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. Last fall, he co-taught one of the most popular classes ever, Think Again: How to Reason and Argue. The Coursera course was a sensation, drawing more than 170,000 students, more than 100,000 of whom participated and viewed the course lectures a total of 4 million times.
Sinnott-Armstrong and his co-teacher, Ram Neta of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have spent their summers making radical changes not to their Coursera class, but to the similar courses they teach on their respective campuses.
The big shift: far fewer in-class lectures. Students will watch the lectures on Coursera beginning Monday. "Class will become a time for activities and also teamwork," said Sinnott-Armstrong. He's devised exercises to help on-campus students engage with the concepts in the class, including a college bowl-like competition, a murder mystery night and a scavenger hunt, all to help students develop a deeper understanding of the material presented in the lectures.
"You can have these fun activities in the classroom when you're not wasting the classroom time with the lectures," he said. Neta is also moving away from in-class lectures.
There are some changes coming to the Coursera version of their class, as well:
-- Neta is re-recording all his video lectures. For the first Coursera session, he taught them as he would in a live class, walking around and writing on a whiteboard. That created video quality issues. He's now using ScreenFlow, a video creation and distribution package, and recording them while seated, using animations to replace his whiteboard scribbling.
-- Sinnott-Armstrong has re-written the exercises to emphasize mastery learning, where students learn by repeating exercises until they've mastered the material.
-- The course will now use Coursera's keystroke "signature" technology, introduced in January, to verify student identities.
-- Students now have free access to Sinnott-Armstrong's textbook, Understanding Arguments. His publisher is one of several allowing Coursera to integrate digital versions of textbooks into its courses.
What it won't have is Google Hangouts. Think Again was part of a pilot project Google did with Coursera. But "Hangouts was not built for this purpose [student discussions in MOOCs]," said Ryan George, a course operations specialist at Coursera. "Technical changes need to be made to make it a viable tool." He said Google is working on those changes, but an updated version isn't ready yet.
Google in the Enterprise SurveyThere's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
CIOs Get Smart About BIIT’s tried for years to simplify business intelligence efforts. Have visual analysis tools and Hadoop and NoSQL databases helped? Respondents to our 2014 InformationWeek Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Information Management Survey have a mixed outlook.
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Nov. 10, 2014Just 30% of respondents to our new survey say their companies are very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and analyzing it to make decisions, down from 42% in 2013. What gives?