I wrote this in an email exchange with a friend recently, and I thought it might be of interest here at aiqus. The basic argument is that the MOOC revolution is not poised to replace the classroom. Rather it is poised to replace the textbook. Let me know what you think.
asked 16 Nov '12, 15:30
Thanks for the thought provoking post. The thing that fascinates me is that I find your argument persuasive, but at the same time I believe a significant shortcoming of many MOOCs is the lack of an associated textbook. Now I need to try to resolve this cognitive dissonance ;-)
The main things I think textbooks add to MOOCs are: 1. Additional depth and breadth of material. Some MOOCs address this by making optional lectures and readings available, but I find the coherent presentation of a textbook generally superior for this. 2. A relatively error free reference. Books also have errors of course, but my experience is that the typical error rate is lower for books than for lectures/slides (and textbooks often have errata these days). (maybe I am overly sensitive to this, some of the MOOCs I have taken have driven me to distraction with course material errors, especially in quiz answers/grading)
Perhaps another way of addressing this is simply to ask: what role (if any) do you think textbooks should play in a MOOC?
answered 16 Nov '12, 17:03
I think quite the opposite, but it's a good discussion. At any rate I do not think MOOCs decrease the need or demand for textbooks, at all.
I think MOOCs as learning material--or rather the learning materials of MOOCs--are quite similar to the learning materials of traditional courses. That's good but a good, well articulated textbook without omissions is invaluable even if you already took a very similar course, as reference material. It also depends on personal taste, in college I used text books much more than most of my fellow students.
I think the main difference between MOOCs and traditional courses is certification, but as we've talked many times over here, it's little more than that, a tradition, along with some initial but solvable problems. Neither is brick and mortar education immune to cheating of course, nor is online education more vulnerable to it. If and when traditional education wants to fight cheating, digital tools are the best ones.
answered 17 Nov '12, 14:15
I'd probably hope for a MOOC with an infinite series of drill-down videos. Perhaps have a text translation of the narration with links to explanation of subsidiary concepts. For example in the AI class when we get to anything involving linear algebra have links referencing Khan Academy on matrix manipulation. Given a complete set of links, the need for a textbook starts to fade.
The textbook or some other printed material may still be necessary for a deeper understanding of the material. It would also be useful if you wanted to go somewhere briefly referenced in but not covered by the course.
It might be nice to reference other courses here as well. Then a quick scan of the other courses referenced would give you an idea of what background knowledge would be helpful.
Actually MOOCs usually have a better "path through the stuff", for lack of a better word. Textbooks tend to designed as a reference, and it's seldomly clear for a reader what stuff should or can be omitted on a first pass through the book. MOOCS are usually designed to be manageable cover to cover.
Forum participation usually isn't for me. I don't have a lot to say, or ask while staying clear of cheating policies, and I can't usually help anyone because the questions are answered well before I see them.
answered 18 Nov '12, 07:36