4-4 Dirty Little Secrets of Traditional vs Massive Online Teaching

دوره: Mindshift- Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential / فصل: Adopting a Learning Lifestyle / درس 4

4-4 Dirty Little Secrets of Traditional vs Massive Online Teaching

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I was even more surprised to arrive in Cambridge and see the room packed with Harvard and MIT folks, all eager to learn more about the secret sauce behind the making of our MOOC. Yet it had on the order of the same number of students as all of Harvard's dozens of MOOCs put together, made for millions of dollars with hundreds of people. Did you know, for example, that research has shown no teacher education courses have been found to have any effect on the quality of teaching?

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So here I am. This is me, getting ready to go to work at my day job in Michigan. And here’s Terry, taking a few minutes off from his day job in La Jolla, California. That’s one of the great joys of MOOC making. Co-instructors can work together from afar. I’m just a typical Midwestern engineer, so it was kind of a shocker for me when I was invited to speak at Harvard about our MOOC, Learning How to Learn. I was even more surprised to arrive in Cambridge and see the room packed with Harvard and MIT folks, all eager to learn more about the secret sauce behind the making of our MOOC. Eventually I understood, at least partly, the reason for their curiosity; Learning How to Learn was a labor of love made for less than $5,000. Yet it had on the order of the same number of students as all of Harvard’s dozens of MOOCs put together, made for millions of dollars with hundreds of people. This tells you something really important. Making good online learning materials is something anybody can do; but not everybody does it. Here are some dirty little secrets of traditional face-to-face university teaching. There’s virtually no competition. Maybe Professor Smith is better than Professor Jones at your local university; but Smith’s class is full, so you’re stuck with Jones. At many universities, especially the world’s elite, the attention goes towards doing great research, not towards doing great teaching. This is why university teaching sometimes just isn’t very good. It’s a statistical truism, by the way, to say that half of all teachers are below average as teachers. Also, professors become professors because they’re good at showing off how much they know. This is often the opposite of what you really need to be a good teacher, where the ability to explain in simple, straightforward ways is vital. Lastly, university teaching is about filling a time slot - say 40 hours in a semester. There is no motivation to be more efficient, to find clever ways to memorably communicate the materials in 25 hours say, instead of 40. But online is a different world. It combines academia with Silicon Valley with a little bit of Hollywood - and there’s nothing wrong with that. And unlike regular classrooms, the online world is highly competitive. The bottom line is if you had a choice between a class that taught the material and a class that taught the same material, but where the professor was also funny and brought you onboard with whimsical visual metaphors that helped you quickly grasp key ideas, which class would you choose? Universities can add real value to what you’re learning by lending insight from research. Did you know, for example, that research has shown no teacher education courses have been found to have any effect on the quality of teaching? Professors can be nervous about the competition, so some can tend to disparage MOOCs and online learning. They’ll say things like MOOCs are bad because they have a low completion rate. However, I would venture to guess that the real completion rate for textbooks; that is, that people have read every chapter and done all the problems, is far lower than the completion rate of MOOCs. Yet professors never say we should get rid of textbooks because of low completion rates. But back to the matter at hand. My point is that though universities can provide invaluable insight into whatever you’re trying to learn, they’re just not used to competition in teaching. So this is part of why there is such a range of quality in online materials, even from ostensibly top universities. In the next video, I’ll give you some insight into how Learning How to Learn was made. This will help set the stage so you can better understand factors to look for in good online learning.

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