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.




12 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


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

17 09 2012

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

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

PS this from Steve Krause just landed in my reader,

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).

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