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Presentation Scales In Massive Online Courses; Does Interaction?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the place-to-talk-about-group-therapy dept.

Communications 63

lpress writes "Coursera has demonstrated that they can scale presentations in massive, open, online courses — they have reached over 1.3 million students in 195 countries since they were funded in April. But can they scale student interaction? As of this morning, 7,839 Coursera students had formed 1,119 communities on Meetup.com in 1,014 cities — many outside the U.S." On the whole, isn't that a positive outcome?

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Romney pivots to more agressive stance in close (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41431681)

race. Fuck yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about.More God, less stump speach and economics.

Re:Romney pivots to more agressive stance in close (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41431705)

I wouldn't start fapping yet. Unless a story breaks about obama doing something horrible, Romney has already lost.

Re:Romney pivots to more agressive stance in close (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41432311)

You don't recognize a Democrat pretending to be a Tea Bagger? GP was about as transparent as it gets...

Isn't that good... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41431727)

On the whole, isn't that a positive outcome?

I dunno; are they forums where the blind lead the deaf or are they staffed with people who are able to answer questions correctly and quickly enough that students don't learn the wrong lessons?

Re:Isn't that good... (4, Informative)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#41434131)

They're staffed by the instructors and their assistants, and in my experience give quick and quality spoiler-free guidance and answers. The nice thing about a forum is that you're not getting off-the-cuff responses from one random assistant; they've got a chance to run it around the room and up the chain to give a better formed response than if you were to sit down with them one-on-one.

And yes, it does scale. Any question that I desired to ask was already asked in the forums, with great answers and discussion around it, even sometimes ending up in new errata added to the video. By keeping this "interaction" persistent, it coalesces a ton of human redundancy out of the learning pipeline, effectively broadcasting the most effective parts of the interactions in a similar fashion as the videos, from a very conversational and relatable perspective.

Re:Isn't that good... (4, Informative)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 2 years ago | (#41434309)

Having followed about a dozen courses at Coursera and one at MITx. I believe there is still much room to improvement on Coursera's forum. The quality isn't equal. Some teaching assistants and Professors are outstanding. Others are so, so. The main point is that professors aren't paid to put their courses on-line. So, in some cases, the time commitment is just not there. Same thing apply to teaching assistants.

The forum could be easier and more user-friendly searching isn't always easy. There is no performant search engine and classification with tags is depends on the students. Provided the number of students from many different locations and culture, it is easy to imagine not everyone is taking care about the tags.

Beside that, you can usually find good help on the forum if you are up-to-date with the course material and not lagging to much behind, otherwise, you are reduced often to dig into the already existing threads to find your answers. There is not always a great willing to help those lagging behind. And, as I said, since there is no search engine, you may endup reading more pages on the forum than the actual course material to find the help and information you are seeking for. This can really be a time consuming task. At my sense, it should be a top priority in the list of the improvements to implement on the forum.

For disabled students, the material isn't always available on time and isn't always accurate. That can be a concern for those needing it since they may at the end have much less time than others to complete the lessons, assignments, homeworks before the deadlines. This is a problem Coursera can easily fix by better planning the lauch of each course making sure a professor do not start a course without having already a given number of videos already adapted for disabled students. This is really just a planning issue. And, it is sad to say that disabled students may be penalized in a course by this lack of planning.

For many teachers, this is the first experience at this scale, they need some guidance from Coursera which should be the primary ressource and should ensure the quality of the material by supervising the preparation and lauching of the new courses.

I strongly believe in MOOC and despite my comments I believe Coursera did a great job. On the side of the on-line help on the forum, my experience with MITx is the forum environment at MITx was a little bit superior to Coursera's environment. Now, let see what edX will offer. Starting a new course today with them.

Re:Isn't that good... (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 2 years ago | (#41434311)

I forgot to talk a little about the meetup. Again, so far I haven't have a chance to join one in my area. I am aware there is now one, less than half a dozen students are registered and I am waiting for the first meetup.

What's special about study groups? (5, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41431735)

Is it real interaction? Class interaction is talking to the professor for authoritative answers to questions, or in the case of the massively large science classes I took (CHEM 101 and PHYS 201-ish), they had a paid TA in the lab. Unless there is a paid TA in each of the 1000+ groups, they are nothing more than study groups, and aren't class interaction. There is no "official" answer to a question. There is no "interaction" with a class authority. That's not class interaction any more than friending a classmate on Facebook makes that classroom interaction (even if they meet in person, the difference is the lack of official representation in the group).

Re:What's special about study groups? (3, Insightful)

redfield (638536) | more than 2 years ago | (#41431783)

These are university courses. You don't learn anything useful by having someone tell you the 'right answer' to a made-up problem. The point of the problems is to learn to think about the issues and build the skills needed to find answers. Study groups are places where students can help each other build these skills. Even in face-to-face tutorials, a good TA doesn't just tell students the answers, but helps them find their own ways to the answers.

Re:What's special about study groups? (2, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41431879)

I passed more than one university course with the help of identifying what the professor wanted to hear. Some lecture from their writings and theories and test from the book. Others read from the book and test from lecture notes and other supplimentary material. Interaction with the grade giver has value. Chatting with some chums isn't the same thing, no matter how "wiki" it feels. The truth isn't decided by committee. In a university course, the truth is decided by dictatorship.

Granted there is a difference between learning about a subject and getting an "A" in a class about that subject. Given the choice, I prefer both to neither.

Re:having someone tell you the 'right answer' (4, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432015)

Sorry, I profoundly disagree.

Let's separate topics into "objective" and "subjective".

The "Objective" ones are "easy" - math-engineering-parts of science. There is supposed to be "1.0001" right answers. (The "Right One" and the one in a million shot that the official answer is in fact incorrect.) So no amount of students thrashing around with no closure will help if at the end of the day the instructor-team doesn't produce the right answer. Then there's more thrashing about why 70% didn't get it right, and there is where you learn.

On the subjective stuff, yeah, it heads more into what the Prof wants to hear, but a good Prof might actually have a clue. Look at the Legal Disputes we have going on here. We desperately need an IAAL whose paid specialty (from the EFF?) is to lead the discussions because however much we joke about the topic, law is hard, and 85% of our comments are flawed. The IAAL might make an error, but it's gonna be a much narrower error than most of our 200 comments.

Peer instruction (3, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 2 years ago | (#41433565)

So no amount of students thrashing around with no closure will help if at the end of the day the instructor-team doesn't produce the right answer.

That "thrashing around" as you put it is extremely educational. If you are the asker you have to think carefully and logically about the problem in order to phrase exactly what it is that you do not understand and for those answering they have to do the same to be able to make a rational argument as to why they are correct. This has been shown to lead to better understanding for everyone involved. In fact it is a recognised teaching technique called "peer instruction".

You do still need an instructor to provide the correct answers and explanation at the end to ensure that everyone knows what the correct answer is but it is not necessary for them to be involved all the time in the discussion. Essentially it boils down to the fact that you learn a lot more if you can reason out for yourself your own answers. The instructor acts more like training wheels to stop you falling over. Eventually, if you become a scientist, you use the same technique - thrashing it out in journals - but since nobody knows the answer there is no instructor to come it and tell you the answer at the end...which is what makes it so much more fun!

Re:Peer instruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41434917)

As an engineering student in my senior year the opposite has always been my experience for any objective course. Once you have reached the point of thrashing, you already know exactly where the holes in your knowledge are. If you are given the answer you can move backwards to fill in gaps in your knowledge, and if you're given the steps you will see exactly what was done and understand why. The time you spend thinking about a problem after you solved it is much more valuable toward 'groking' the subject than the time you spend solving it.

Re:Peer instruction (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#41456311)

If you are given the answer you can move backwards to fill in gaps in your knowledge, and if you're given the steps you will see exactly what was done and understand why.

I disagree. It is very easy to fool yourself into thinking that you understand something when you have been provided the answer. You may feel that you understand why something is correct - and indeed you may even be right - but that is a dangerous way to learn. Since you already know that the answer provided is correct you can take shortcuts in understanding which are not available to you if you have to come up with the answer yourself.

Re:having someone tell you the 'right answer' (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#41434151)

There is supposed to be "1.0001" right answers. (The "Right One" and the one in ten thousand shot that the official answer is in fact incorrect.)

FTFY

Re:having someone tell you the 'right answer' (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#41434787)

Sorry, I profoundly disagree.

Let's separate topics into "objective" and "subjective".

The "Objective" ones are "easy" - math-engineering-parts of science. There is supposed to be "1.0001" right answers. (The "Right One" and the one in a million shot that the official answer is in fact incorrect.) So no amount of students thrashing around with no closure will help if at the end of the day the instructor-team doesn't produce the right answer. Then there's more thrashing about why 70% didn't get it right, and there is where you learn.

For engineering, there often isn't a "1.001 right answer;" at least not in how you arrive at a reasonable approximation of how your design will behave in the real world. I learned a number of ways, for the same problem, to get to such an approximation; what was important that you develop an understanding of how things work and where you can safely simplify a problem. Much of it was subjective despite the rigorous and equation laden world of engineering; as one professor put it "if the design looks right it probably is right; the hard part is developing a good sense of what looks right..." Oddly enough, that was when I decided I really didn't want to be an engineer but rather learn how develop a sense of what looks right and solve problems; I really enjoyed my days working for a degree after taht and never really worked as the prototypical engineer even though my engineering education has been valuable no matter what I do.

One way presentations are old, they are books (0)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432085)

These are university courses.

If there is no interaction with a professor and fellow students then these are not very good university courses.

There is actually little that is new here, one way presentation of information are centuries old, that is what books are.

Yes there are people that can learn from such presentations. However those individuals are exceptionally rare. That is why Universities evolved, because books alone were not enough.

You don't learn anything useful by having someone tell you the 'right answer' to a made-up problem.

And that *is not* what happens in real university level classes.

The point of the problems is to learn to think about the issues and build the skills needed to find answers.

And that *is* what happens in real university level classes. Sadly however that is not what happens in all university/college classes. Yet it happens far more often than when merely reading or engaging in some other one way presentation. By "real" I was not referring to a class that merely takes place on a university/college campus, some classes are good, some are not, it has a lot to do with the professor and/or TA.

Study groups are places where students can help each other build these skills. Even in face-to-face tutorials, a good TA doesn't just tell students the answers, but helps them find their own ways to the answers.

Absolutely.

Re:What's special about study groups? (1)

fatp (1171151) | more than 2 years ago | (#41433611)

These are university courses.

These are not university courses. They are provided by a university, and provide (a subset or) the same content of a university course and possibly same assignments. However, you get no credit. Instead, they give some form of statement of accomplishment Maybe one day some such organization (e.g., udacity) will become university, but not yet.

Re:What's special about study groups? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#41434133)

You can't reach a conclusion as to whether fluorine is a lanthanide by discussing it with people who don't know what lanthanides are.

But for more "woolly" subjects (literature, art, business) you can certainly develop a better understanding from peers because there's no one right answer, and multiple perspectives can help.

Re:What's special about study groups? (3, Interesting)

xQx (5744) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432037)

You can learn more about how Coursera works here: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/daphne_koller_what_we_re_learning_from_online_education.html - It is far more than just "study groups".

Now, I'm not sure what it was like at your university, but doing a science course at Monash, I realized there is a huge difference in people who can teach vs. people who can research. And universities love getting researchers who publish stuff so the university looks good. The end result - every one of our maths or CS teachers spent their time talking in a thick Indian accent while scribbling nonsense on the board which you frantically copied down without learning a DAMN THING.

As for the TA's - well, they aren't exactly experts or authorities in themselves, usually your first year TA was a second year student; your second year TA is a third year student; your third year TA is a fourth year student ...

Lecturer interaction at most universities doesn't live up to the promise.

So how do people learn? Well the studies say it isn't by sitting in a room listening. Nor, is it about talking to an expert about the material and asking interesting questions. And importantly - nor is it by memorizing stuff by wrote, then regurgitating it for an exam.
You learn best by USING what you've been taught (in fact studies* say one of the best ways of learning something is to try to teach it to others).

What does that mean?

Most of what you learn at university actually comes from you doing assignments (or using what you have read or have been told in a practical way).

How does Coursera stack up?

Well, they did research that showed that peer-marked assignments hold an extremely strong correlation to teacher marked assignments - so as a student of Coursera, once you've finished an assignment, you then get assignments from other students to mark. They send the same assignment to a second student who also marks it (cross marking) - so you do assignments (when you learn), they get marked, and you get a grade.

Also, There is an "official answer" to questions - when they do exams, they don't just tell you what answers you got wrong, because they have hundreds of thousands of people doing the same exam, they offer reasons why you got that wrong answer. Thus giving personalized learning via machine.

Re:What's special about study groups? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432163)

Is it real interaction?

Interaction is overrated. I went from kindergarten to college graduation without ever raising my hand and asking a question in class. I would talk if called on, but I was way to much of an introvert to voluntarily draw attention to myself. If I didn't understand something, and nobody else asked about it, I would figure it out later on my own. But I did well in school, and feel like I got a good education. I don't see how it would have been worse if it was all online.

Re:What's special about study groups? (2)

jasax (1728312) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432877)

That's not 100% true. I just finished "Learning from data" offered online independently (of Coursera, Udacity,...) by Caltech, in concrete by Prof. Yaser Abu-Mostafa, who answered in person to most of the the questions promptly, in a couple of hours, even on Sundays. It was also true that the number of questions was not overwhelming, and usually were valid questions (I think stupid people didn't abound in the forum.) I don't know how many people was in the class, but hundreds, probably. BTW, a very nice class, I learned a lot, and it just started the fall run a few days ago. I Recommend wholeheartedly. And in video classes you can listen to the professor when you are in the mood and have spare time, not at a precise time spot as in "real" classes. This is a big plus IMHO.

Not exactly scaling well (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#41431739)

So 8k students out of 1.3M have formed study groups? While that's good for those students, I'd hardly call it scaling well. That's a rate of 0.6%. Far, far lower than what you get in traditional universities.

Do students really need to resort to a third party site to meet each other? If so, that's probably part of the problem right there. It seems like integrating social networking features right into Coursera would help to tremendously increase the rate at which students interact.

Re:Not exactly scaling well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41431873)

Many older students such as myself tend to stay away from forums and just do coursework at home alone. There's very little value to forums unless you are really stuck on a problem. I've seen groups form for students from Russia/China/India , etc... , these are usually young people and it's good for them to interact with someone from their own country. Anyways, enough rambling I've got work to do.

btw I recommend the Algorithms I and II course, it's been very fun so far and the teacher (Robert Sedgewik) is really good.

Re:Not exactly scaling well (1)

PracticalM (1089001) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432001)

I also stayed away from the forums because I just didn't have time to participate and by the time I read through a interesting topic I really didn't want to start posting on a topic that was already pretty old. I don't care for the forums on Coursera. It might be easier if I could filter by recent topics so I can focus on the conversations that are fresher. (If that is already possible then I missed it some how.)

I do like the student evaluation process in the class I'm taking. There just doesn't seem to be a way to find those people and continue conversing on the assignment.

Re:Not exactly scaling well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41433913)

Study groups are part of American culture, but not necessary part of university culture elsewhere. There is no such thing as a study group where I studied. Of course, students talk to each other, they explain things to each other and so on. Some even meet to study together with friends. But, there is never a formal study group that meets regularly to study together.

The following is probably a consequence of the above: I did some courses on coursera and I made no attempt to meat with people doing the same course. I know that there were been some in our city, but apparently none of us felt the need. There was IRC, there were forums and they have the same role as casual conversation before/after lecture.

Basically, there is no failure on coursera part. Some did not cared about study groups because there is no tradition of such a thing where they live. Either the culture is less extroverted, or it value more independence or whatever else, but study groups are very American thing. You can expect people from elsewhere to participate in the same rates, as people who grew up with it and consider it "normal".

This is basically what I think about study groups: If you are in a group, there will be someone faster than you and you will loose the possibility to figure things out. Figuring things out by yourself is very important too and being able to understand things by yourself has a big value too. It teaches you more than having them explained by faster student. If did not understood something, I through about it for little more or read up. Of course I would eventually ask, but only after being sure I can not do it by myself. My grades never suffered for this and I believe that I learned more than I would otherwise.

Re:Not exactly scaling well (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 2 years ago | (#41435643)

You may not have identified yourself as part of a study group, but from what you've written above, you were part of one. Study groups don't have to be formal. They are not fixed groups of people. They are simply people getting together, discussing the assignments and coursework, and trying to figure things out together. This nonsense about not being the fastest one in the group and how that's going to somehow impede your learning experience is just plain wrong. I had groups in college that I met with to help with math, and most of the time i was pretty quick at figuring things out, and so I'd help explain it to others and I learned by trying to explain it, but we would turn the page, and there'd be some problem that I didn't get that someone else did. It's not about one person knowing everything. It's about a group effort, and generally everyone helped. One person would get it, then they'd share, and this could happen four or five times across the study material in a single assignment, from different individuals. It's very efficient. Further, when no one in the group could figure it out in a way sufficient to explain to the satisfaction of everyone in the group, we'd know that it was time to take it to the TA or the Professor. It's a very efficient means of digesting information. The numbers approx. 7000 students out of 1.3 million forming groups is pretty bad. I am tempted to question just how well the material is mastered if there's isn't more interraction.

Define "interaction"... (4, Interesting)

bgat (123664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41431753)

On the whole, "interacting" via message boards is about as productive for education as typing with mittens on is for coding. Online courseware can provide students with reference materials and enlightening prose, the enhancement that comes with direct, rapid-fire human interaction is missing.

This is why medical, law, and engineering schools heavily promote study groups where you appear IN PERSON to interact with your classmates. The nuance of the spoken word, and the nonlinearity of conversation, adds a powerful dimension to the student's internalization of the material in ways you just cannot duplicate with words on a screen or paper.

Re:Define "interaction"... (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432019)

This is why medical, law, and engineering schools heavily promote study groups where you appear IN PERSON to interact with your classmates. The nuance of the spoken word, and the nonlinearity of conversation, adds a powerful dimension to the student's internalization of the material in ways you just cannot duplicate with words on a screen or paper.

I learn much better by reading and writing, not by listening to people talk. While traditional education models do push for one method over the other, it doesn't mean that someone may learn better in another way. While I am not going to argue there are not faults in online education, just because a traditional model has been accepted as optimal doesn't mean it is and should be eliminated.

Disclaimer: I am a student of online education and I have worked in both public not-for-profit and private for-profit education institutions which offer online components or are outright all online.

Re:Define "interaction"... (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432079)

On the whole, "interacting" via message boards is about as productive for education as typing with mittens on is for coding.

It depends on the message board. I have learned way more from Stack Overflow [stackoverflow.com] than I ever learned from a book. The content is well categorized, and both the questions and answers are rated in a way similar to Slashdot moderation. It seems to work very well.

Re:Define "interaction"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41433147)

stack overflow is awesome for reference but my favorite is when i see a question asked and many people reply to find a solution. and they debate and that the answer ends up coming from not just 1 person. i feel it's easier to recall what i read and i learn more.

Re:Define "interaction"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41434845)

I have learned way more from Stack Overflow

"Far" more or "much" more is correct in that context, "way" more is not.

Keep learning!

Re:Define "interaction"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41432281)

I signed up for coursera's financial class. The instructor was great. The videos were great. The test questions were given in two versions to supposedly prevent cheating. I did ok at first but then when I struggled, it was impossible to get any answers - every instance of forum discussion about the question I needed help with was interleaved between the two versions.

I wound up giving up - no reason to continue since I had hit a brick wall and had no way to get help. You're not allowed (reasonably, I'm not complaining) to contact the faculty and there was nowhere else to turn.

Re:Define "interaction"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41433945)

I did financial and cryptography class and I have to say that crypto had much less problems with this regard. The difference is that question differences in crypto have been apparent immediately. They always differed by more than one word somewhere in the middle. Plus, teacher and his assistants monitored crypto forums, cleared up misconceptions, explained what was badly explained in the lecture and so on.

Do not judge online learning by financial class, it can be done in much better way.

Labour costs increase with head of student taught (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41431775)

This isn't a positive outcome. The 1960s "tutorial" revolution in tertiary pedagogy indicated the need for small group (6 person max) discussion led by an expert. Coursera currently fails in this area worse than traditional Universities. Most traditional Universities that went through the tutorial revolution in pedagogy maintain some degree of expert led discussion. "Traditional" distance education providers also maintain an element of this function, and have generally proven that the systems required to maintain tertiary pedagogy do not scale towards reduced labour costs.

Re1960s "tutorial" revolution in tertiary pedagogy (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432067)

I'll concede I haven't heard of that, but I'll also wager that a few modern online techniques can scale things much better. An online course, assuming a "tight budget" would employ a special second professor whose sole job it was to answer the forum comments. Then the Moderator system automatically puts him at for example +5 so that his remarks show up instantly. A Prof who really knows his stuff can drill out some 15 comments an hour, so say 4 hours of work a week for the class, pretty soon 60 authoriative replies to the best questions would shape the discussion, because the students would begin re-quoting the answer farther down the thread.

In traditional University, I for example was lucky if the class ever got more than five questions combined in the entire hour because all the time was spent in the lecture. So I'd take 60 answers any day, because chances are at least a couple of them are close to the same question I had.

Re:Re1960s "tutorial" revolution in tertiary pedag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41432655)

"The Tutorial" is a big issue in tertiary pedagogy, and the increase in tutorial sizes from 6 to 40 or more has been a serious attack on the quality of face to face teaching and learning.

Places that don't run face to face, the traditional distance education providers, work pretty hard on this topic. They've already had forty or more years to explore the potential methods of scaling distance education. Given the deep similarities between online modes of delivery and distance modes of delivery you'd think that a quality online provider would be taking many of their cues from the distance providers. They don't seem to be, particularly in the area of direct interaction between students and experts.

Access to Q&A isn't nearly as important as access to modelling conduct and supervised engagement. Small group course delivery provided a large part of what formative assessment is meant to provide. It is possible to substitute—current University distance providers do so successfully—but not on the scales that the market model of these dodgy online providers are operating at.

Certification? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41431801)

I don't know about the rest of the world, but for the most part in first world countries, if you don't have a recognised certificate as 'proof' of your knowledge, then your knowledge is worthless.

Re:Certification? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41431955)

That depends entirely on the employer (most of the time). Some will let you demonstrate your skills to them, and if they deem you knowledgeable enough, you very well might get a job.

works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41431887)

It's been fine for me. I expect that for some students it wouldn't be perfect however. I'm a guy already in the middle of my career and the video lecture format and mailing list/forum types of interaction works awesomely for me. But even given that this format is not perfect for everyone, there are a lot of really whiny voices among the legitimate complaints. For example, some have said on the first day that they are dropping the stats course because the screen was slanted. Others were annoyed that were no certificates of completion and some were upset that we didn't get credits at the school for the work.

My Coursera Experience (2)

jamej (543667) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432351)

Eventually a student needs to talk with and be guided by someone adept in the field. All this online stuff is okay but, I don't think you can become an adept through the online education medium. I am half way through my first Coursera course, I have just short of a million points with Kahn Academy, and I have done 14 Euler Project problems. Online is okay but you'll eventually need more. Good luck to you all. Jim

Mass education is not a problem (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432419)

The 'presentation' part of most education be automated. I really don't see that as controversial at all.

Lab and specific question issues are another beast all together.

How can this be helped?
Maybe fewer profs/lead/expert teachers... and more TA's and other lower-paid people allowing for more one-on-one help with students.

This can even be applied to high school and other areas. You don't really need expert teachers. The material must be presented generally... and can be largely automated presentations. But you can hire more assistants to help with behavior and individual help.

Re:Mass education is not a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41433197)

The 'presentation' part of most education be automated. I really don't see that as controversial at all.

Lab and specific question issues are another beast all together.

How can this be helped?
Maybe fewer profs/lead/expert teachers... and more TA's and other lower-paid people allowing for more one-on-one help with students.

This can even be applied to high school and other areas. You don't really need expert teachers. The material must be presented generally... and can be largely automated presentations. But you can hire more assistants to help with behavior and individual help.

There is a simple yet powerful tool available to learn. That is to find retired mentors in every city and beg them to come to your organisation to help you and mentor you based on their experience. All such resources are ignored by schools, colleges etc. The only problem is, once such help group emergences, the administrators will pocket all the allocated money for student development and fire more teachers and pocket their money too. A sad state if affair in the US and forget about other countries.

Re:Mass education is not a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41433631)

You *can* do a hell of a lot with unpaid labour. Look at the greatness of Britain in the nineteenth century, borne on the broken backs of sugar slaves, cotton operatives, coal miners and cotton pickers.

Re:Mass education is not a problem (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#41433265)

The 'presentation' part of most education be automated. I really don't see that as controversial at all.

The "presentation" part of most education was first automated in, I think, ancient Babylon or Egypt.
China started producing cheap handheld versions of those devices in 1st-3rd century CE/AD.
Then Johannes Gutenberg increased the bandwidth of copying and distribution (at slight expense of resolution).

How much interaction does big lecture classes at a (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41432501)

How much interaction does big lecture classes at a traditional university have?? and what if differnt from on line then???

Also why pay the high traditional university price when you can get the same on line with DRV control?

Re:How much interaction does big lecture classes a (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 2 years ago | (#41435273)

How much interaction does big lecture classes at a traditional university have?? and what if differnt from on line then???

Also why pay the high traditional university price when you can get the same on line with DRV control?

Depends on how much of a coward one is to be too afraid to ask questions. Sorry, but having a few degrees at a major US university, nothing beats that interaction. If you don't think it is pertinent to ask your professor to work out the integral that you aren't seeing, then you're short changing yourself. Please spare me the on-line quality vs. University quality. They are night and day. Go get a Mechanical Engineering degree and discover how important it is being immersed in your field with groups of ME students working on projects. On line crap just doesn't cut it.

what about the filler classes and off major classe (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41435713)

what about the filler classes and off major forced classes?

What about the gen edu's? ones

Some of them are the big lecture classes that can be done on line for less and it's not on-line quality vs. University quality. It's that they can be mixed to make learning better.

A No Brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41432845)

'The USA is the new Soviet.'

'Nough said Dan'O. :)

Let's give this, and Only This.

Shared mythology. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#41433049)

I guess, I repeat what others already mentioned in other forms, but interaction without teacher is more likely to build a shared mythology based on superficial understanding of the course -- someone proposes a plausible "explanation", others will accept it and build upon it, getting farther and farther from the truth.

Re:Shared mythology. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41433951)

Teachers are allowed to participate in forums. Plus, students refer to books and videos when discussing - usually the one who can back it up wins.

Re:Shared mythology. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41434045)

If I'm not being paid, then I'm not "participating" for free.

Re:Shared mythology. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#41434619)

Teachers are allowed to participate in forums.

And how does that help when there are thousands and thousands of students per teacher, all located in some dinky forums where they probably spend most their time badmouthing the teachers?

Plus, students refer to books and videos when discussing - usually the one who can back it up wins.

So those would be students who didn't need the course in the first place? Not to mention, other students won't have the same books. At best it will be references to Wikipedia, and Wikipedia itself suffers from the same problem.

This is a developing concept ... (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 2 years ago | (#41434063)

This is a developing concept with the potential of being a paradigm shift. Now days anything you want to do, there is a YouTube video. From baking bread, to understanding excel, to trying to figure out complex math concepts. Somebody charismatic among a multitude on mediocre has made a video or a tutorial.

We are comparing an old method of tuition with a new concept of online learning. There are elements of online learning that cannot duplicate face to face tuition, but the reverse is overwhelmingly on the side of online learning.

Some of the greatest innovators are self taught. Some of the most brilliant mathematicians/scientists are also self taught. How many more self taught brilliant minds will this produce ? How many more of the rest of us will not have access to knowledge there is no way we would have pursued under the "old" system ?

Re:This is a developing concept ... (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 2 years ago | (#41435283)

This is a developing concept with the potential of being a paradigm shift. Now days anything you want to do, there is a YouTube video. From baking bread, to understanding excel, to trying to figure out complex math concepts. Somebody charismatic among a multitude on mediocre has made a video or a tutorial.

We are comparing an old method of tuition with a new concept of online learning. There are elements of online learning that cannot duplicate face to face tuition, but the reverse is overwhelmingly on the side of online learning.

Some of the greatest innovators are self taught. Some of the most brilliant mathematicians/scientists are also self taught. How many more self taught brilliant minds will this produce ? How many more of the rest of us will not have access to knowledge there is no way we would have pursued under the "old" system ?

For every self-taught you have tens of thousands equally taught or greater. Sorry, but Newton came around once. Same with Einstein, Bohr, etc. They all had formal training.

Re:This is a developing concept ... (1)

jrmech (2714225) | more than 2 years ago | (#41438023)

As an engineering grad student, I have found (at least at my University) that the grad professors are horrendous at explaining material, and most of the "clarification" I get from asking them questions just leads me back to books/ the Inter-tubes. I have taken a Coursera course and it worked very well (HCI). That being said, the material was no-where near as difficult as the advanced engineering courses I'm referencing, so who knows how that more difficult material would compare in an online setting....

Didn't we SCALE presentation in the 1950s? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41434273)

It's called TV.

Re:Didn't we SCALE presentation in the 1950s? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#41435417)

Why did this get modded down? AC makes a damned good point. With TV, we found a way to reach virtually everyone, all at once.

And how did that effect interactivity?

Short answer - I don't even know my neighbors' names.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41434645)

WTF is with the nonsensical titles all of a sudden?

"Presentation Scales In Massive Online Courses; Does Interaction?"

The words are English, but it makes absolutely no sense at all.

 

*What* interaction? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#41435397)

But can they scale student interaction?

If you mean "scale it from its real world analogue", then no. No, they cannot, because...

If you mean "scale it from smaller online courses", then yes, because online classes essentially have no interaction, at any scale.

40-50 Courserans in my town's Meetup group (2)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 2 years ago | (#41437251)

... and they've never actually met!

Don't be fooled by the raw numbers. Look at how many meetups they've had, and whether any of those Meetups actually occurred. My one lists 3 past meetups, but the location had never been finalized - no one actually got together and met up.

Automated homework checks on Coursera rock (1)

ZmeiGorynych (1229722) | about 2 years ago | (#41438419)

I'm doing a machine learning course with them right now, and they ask you as one part of the homework to write Matlab code, and include a script that connects to their servers, and checks your code for correctness. This, plus a set of partly randomized multiple-choice questions for each lecture are a great help for me to focus on the content.

That's pretty awesome in my book, way more than any forums (well already at Uni I mostly skipped the lectures and discussion groups, and passed everything by reading the lecture notes, then doing the homework).

All this needs to match everything a real university can give me is the option for those few that can pass that sort of course with flying colors (doing the advanced homework well etc) to get a chance for a follow-up advanced course where after passing the automated code check you'd get a real human to comment on your solutions to the more interesting problems. I'd be more than happy to pay for that sort of course, too, after I'd had a chance to check out the professor and material during the free initial course. I already have a career so couldn't care less about getting a piece of paper out of it, but could always do with learning some bleeding-edge techniques.

Coursera Interaction Stats Don't Add Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41446379)

Well, I'm taking a Stats course on Coursera right now and to prove that I've learned something, I took the mean of interaction (average number of students interacting via meetups vs. total population). I'm new at this, but I don't think that .6% is statistically significant.

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