World History MOOC Report 1: In which I am underwhelmed.

17 09 2012

So I started my World History MOOC and watched the first lecture this afternoon. So far, it’s a guy standing in front of a blue screen talking about globalization.

Now if you know anything about me you’d know that this should be right up my alley. In fact, it is right up my alley. Then why am I bored? 1) Other than the segmentation, the lectures aren’t organized at all. 2) There has been precious little specific information yet. It’s literally almost ALL concepts. No events. Almost no specific people. 3) Let’s just say in terms of television presence, Jeremy Adelman is no Carl Sagan.

Yes, I know you get what you pay for, but I expected Princeton and Coursera to at least do something in the MOOC format that they couldn’t do otherwise. Even the multiple choice question you get at the end of each lecture segment is derivative of what people now do with Clickers.

If I had to guess, Adelman handed his regular world history class to Coursera and they made a MOOC out of it. I thought the whole point of education technology was to blow up college instruction and put it back together again in a new, better way.

If this kind of course makes anyone unemployed, it’s not because they’ve built a better mousetrap.

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11 responses

17 09 2012
James Atherton

My copy of the textbook has not arrived yet, so I admit that I may not have got the whole picture–I’m expecting to find details such as dates, there.

I’ll go into this in more detail on my own blog in a day or two, but I too have been struck by the gratuitous conservatism of the presentation. And the treatment of Valeria as interlocutor–is this guy aware he is insulting her with elementary-school questions?

17 09 2012
Jonathan Rees

James:

Did I hear right that the grad students write the quiz questions?

17 09 2012
RAB

Depressing to have my expectations confirmed!

18 09 2012
Vim, Ph.D. (@Exhaust_Fumes)

The exchanges (if you can call them that) with Valeria are pretty awful. They reminded me of when Howard Stern would ask Robin for her response after going on and on so that she basically had one thing that she could possibly say and maintain the point he had laid out. Obviously, the lectures are not akin to Howard Stern rants–I admit it’s not really fair to make this comparison–but the brief moment in which the female subordinate gets to say something so basic nonetheless brought the dynamic to my mind. I would feel humiliated if I had that role.

18 09 2012
Vim, Ph.D. (@Exhaust_Fumes)

…and of course that was a terrible thing to say, for Valeria’s sake, and impolitic for my own, since I will probably apply to History PhD programs this year. Still, as a feminist scholar in another field who has spent multiple years in 2 graduate programs and nearly as many in a tenure-track job, I guess I shouldn’t be afraid to say what I think in public.

19 09 2012
VanessaVaile

A number of FantasySF students from non-affiliated FB group registered in history. When I mentioned a “real history prof” being it, they clamored for the link and are now discussing it. More than a few are also underwhelmed and agree with other points.

19 09 2012
VanessaVaile

PS this from Steve Krause just landed in my reader, http://stevendkrause.com/2012/09/19/17-more-universities-jump-aboard-the-coursera-express/

Recently I’ve come across references to homeschoolers getting credit for courses and high school teachers using them to meet PD requirements (now that public schools are having a harder time picking up the tab).

1 10 2012
MOOCs and the History Classroom « Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics

[...] of my favorite bloggers, Jonathan Rees, has been hammering the MOOC (massive open online course) that he enrolled in. Led by Princeton University history professor [...]

7 10 2012
That Was The Week That Was « The Pietist Schoolman

[...] Carr isn’t sure they’re all they’re cracked up to be (H/T Alan Jacobs) and Jonathan Rees is less than impressed after his experience with a Coursera world history course (H/T Mark [...]

14 11 2012
World History MOOC Report 12: In which I am in a state of confusion. « More or Less Bunk

[...] platform really isn’t serving the cause of global education very well at all. I’ve already complained about the old method of lecturing not fitting the new MOOC delivery system. As I’m writing [...]

29 07 2013
What We’re Reading: September 20, 2012 - American Historical Association

[…] World History MOOC Report 1: In Which I Am Underwhelmed: Jonathan Rhees takes a look at a world history massive open online course (MOOC) and discovers that transferring the traditional lecture format to the small screen offers little pedagogical improvement. […]

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