Online Ed at MIT
It’s tough to write a decent entry when your old computer is carefully transferring 250 GB to your new one. 19 hours left to go.
I was able to attend a large 3-hour meeting at MIT yesterday about online education, both off- and on-campus. There were about 100 folks, most of them professors or postdocs, with a few grad students and undergrads in the mix as well. It was fairly interesting and useful. I was worried that it would be mostly people defending face-to-face courses and lecturing without considering what might actually be done online, and while there was some of that, it wasn’t the primary thrust of the meeting. Many people were genuinely, actively considering what might be done about the whole thing.
Two major topics came up at my table:
- How can humanities courses take advantage of this? Especially courses where analysis and writing are the primary activities? How can automated grading provide useful feedback to 200,000 students? (That’s not a rhetorical device, that’s an actual question.)
- In science/engineering courses, how can we provide useful feedback regarding problems that are complex or that have multiple solution paths? Is this something that must necessarily be coded into each problem we write (time-consuming), or are there other ways?
All in all, it was substantially more useful than I feared it would be. The institute is still likely to move fairly slowly as a whole, but there are many people who are interested in attacking the issues rather than ignoring them.