professornana (professornana) wrote,

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If you are on Facebook, then you have seen the ads about miraculous weight loss, cheap insurance, best places to buy stuff, and the like. Before we removed our land line, we got these things in the form of phone calls that all began with, "I am ot trying to sell you something..." at which point I would hang up because YES, you are trying to sell me something.

This is sort of how I feel about a few issues in education. CCSS is touted as the magic bullet that will finally get all kids above average. Professional books promise scores will go up if only kids learn the "important" words or strategies or whatever. And, frankly, we are all looking for quick fixes at some point. I would love to believe I can drop 2 dress sizes in 1 week. But I know better. That takes commitment to diet and eating right. Unless I am willing to rethink exercise as more than playing catch with Scout, that secret will not work. I know that. I am at peace with that.

Lately, the rapid weight loss of the education world has seemed to be MOOCS (massively open online courses). I signed up for and took a MOOC about a year ago, so I know the un-truth, the hype behind this article that proclaims: 12 REASONS WHY MOOCs WILL CHANGE THE WORLD: While it is true that there are prestigious universities offering MOOCs, that they transcend some boundaries (time, locations, etc.), there are also some items on this list that are not quite accurate. Here's one: 5.It can be organized as quickly as you can inform the participants (which makes it a powerful format for priority learning in e.g. aid relief).

Actually, a MOOC that seeks to provide more than some basic pieces of information takes time to organize. For me, putting together a MOOC (and we did this for our university recently even though it is languishing, more about that later), meant really planning it out. It was rather like the planning stages for a course I would offer in an online or FTF forum (the C in MOOC stands for COURSE, after all).

Here is another reason that is not as accurate as it could be: 10.You don’t need a degree to follow the course, only the willingness to learn (at high speed).
Well, that depends on the purpose of the MOOC. I took a MOOC on gamification that actually required some knowledge on my part, I thought, learning that was not part of the MOOC. I did brintg some of that learning to the course, but it was not sufficient to help me at times. I became stuck and sometimes drifted off from the MOOC because I was feeling rather stupid.

My final quibble has to do with the reflection that MOOCs will find more purchase in higher education than in the corporate world. I think the opposite is true. As a university, we can offer MOOCS but not (at least for right now) for credit or twoward a degree. I think companies could find a way to build in MOOCs that will add to the knowledge of employees and lead them up the corporate ladder more readily than MOOCs will make inroads into for-credit, toward-a-degree classes. There is a difference between a MOOC and online courses, trust me. I can handle 20 students in my online classes. But MOOCs that offer that same "course" for hundreds or more? I do not see that working at this point.

One more thing: much of what I have seen with my limited MOOC experience is absolutely the same as if I were in a traditional course: video lectures, class readings, quizzes. Lather, rinse, repeat education. The idea that I can fit it into my busy schedule is kind of absurd. I was doing MOOC work in the wee small hours. It was not working for me. It was not as free and easy as I had been told. I still had deadlines, papers (graded by other students), idiotic multiple choice quizzes, some lectures to attend within a time frame.

So, if someone tries to sell you on quick fixes, be wary.
Tags: quick fixes
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