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NY Times: The University of Wherever

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  • dk
    We re reaching the tipping point where the location of a student s body is not as important as the location of the student s mind. As teachers, we ll probably
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 3, 2011
      We're reaching the tipping point where the location of a student's body is
      not as important as the location of the student's mind. As teachers, we'll
      probably see this and be impacted by this shift. Are we at the cutting edge
      or the bleeding edge? - Dave

      ~~~

      Op-Ed Columnist
      The University of Wherever
      By BILL KELLER

      Excerpts:

      "FOR more than a decade educators have been expecting the Internet to
      transform that bastion of tradition and authority, the university. Digital
      utopians have envisioned a world of virtual campuses and "distributed"
      learning. They imagine a business model in which online courses are
      consumer-rated like products on Amazon, tuition is set by auction services
      like eBay, and students are judged not by grades but by skills they have
      mastered, like levels of a videogame.

      "Meanwhile, one of Stanford's most inventive professors, Sebastian Thrun, is
      making an alternative claim on the future. Thrun, a German-born and largely
      self-taught expert in robotics, is famous for leading the team that built
      Google's self-driving car. He is offering his "Introduction to Artificial
      Intelligence" course online and free of charge. His remote students will get
      the same lectures as students paying $50,000 a year, the same assignments,
      the same exams and, if they pass, a "statement of accomplishment" (though
      not Stanford credit). When The Times wrote about this last month, 58,000
      students had signed up for the course. After the article, enrollment leapt
      to 130,000, from across the globe.

      "Disrupt is right. It would be an earthquake for the majority of colleges
      that depend on tuition income rather than big endowments and research
      grants. Many could go the way of local newspapers. There would be huge
      audiences and paychecks for superstar teachers, but dimmer prospects for
      those who are less charismatic."

      More:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/03/opinion/the-university-of-wherever.html?_r
      =2&pagewanted=all
    • Dr. Elizabeth Hanson-Smith
      Obviously, it depends on what is meant by teaching. If it means reciting a lecture (i.e., reading a speech), you can do it with 58,000 students, or 100
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 8, 2011
        Obviously, it depends on what is meant by "teaching." If it means reciting a lecture (i.e., reading a speech), you can do it with 58,000 students, or 100 million, for that matter. Put it in a podcast and never look back.

        If by "teaching" you mean helping students learn another language (or in fact master any subject matter) it's a different thing entirely. In this situation, interactions, including those with other students, are primary and the process has to be tuned individually.

        It's unfortunate that the general public, and professional educators, continually confuse these two ideas of what "teaching" is.

        As for monetary incentives, money is just the vehicle for desires. Teachers are often dedicated to their jobs and their students, but don't they also want the recognition (and shelter, food, clothing) that a salary gives? Doesn't everybody, including students, want that? Aren't scholarships and fellowships just another form of pay for grades? Aren't pay scales just another form of recognition?

        I don't mean to sound cynical, but everything is about "money," isn't it? Money in its symbolic sense as well as what it buys materially.

        You always provide a lot of food for thought, David--thank you!

        --Elizabeth H-S





        --- In evonline2002_webheads@yahoogroups.com, "dk" <davekees1@...> wrote:
        >
        > We're reaching the tipping point where the location of a student's body is
        > not as important as the location of the student's mind. As teachers, we'll
        > probably see this and be impacted by this shift. Are we at the cutting edge
        > or the bleeding edge? - Dave
        >
        > ~~~
        >
        > Op-Ed Columnist
        > The University of Wherever
        > By BILL KELLER
        >
        > Excerpts:
        >
        > "FOR more than a decade educators have been expecting the Internet to
        > transform that bastion of tradition and authority, the university. Digital
        > utopians have envisioned a world of virtual campuses and "distributed"
        > learning. They imagine a business model in which online courses are
        > consumer-rated like products on Amazon, tuition is set by auction services
        > like eBay, and students are judged not by grades but by skills they have
        > mastered, like levels of a videogame.
        >
        > "Meanwhile, one of Stanford's most inventive professors, Sebastian Thrun, is
        > making an alternative claim on the future. Thrun, a German-born and largely
        > self-taught expert in robotics, is famous for leading the team that built
        > Google's self-driving car. He is offering his "Introduction to Artificial
        > Intelligence" course online and free of charge. His remote students will get
        > the same lectures as students paying $50,000 a year, the same assignments,
        > the same exams and, if they pass, a "statement of accomplishment" (though
        > not Stanford credit). When The Times wrote about this last month, 58,000
        > students had signed up for the course. After the article, enrollment leapt
        > to 130,000, from across the globe.
        >
        > "Disrupt is right. It would be an earthquake for the majority of colleges
        > that depend on tuition income rather than big endowments and research
        > grants. Many could go the way of local newspapers. There would be huge
        > audiences and paychecks for superstar teachers, but dimmer prospects for
        > those who are less charismatic."
        >
        > More:
        > http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/03/opinion/the-university-of-wherever.html?_r
        > =2&pagewanted=all
        >
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