The consortium to make the previously unacceptable acceptable.

12 11 2013

From Wired Campus:

Carnegie Mellon University is convening a high-powered consortium of educators, researchers, and technology-company executives that will spearhead efforts to develop standards and promote best practices in online education.

The Global Learning Council—to be led by Carnegie Mellon’s president, Subra Suresh—will also look for ways to leverage education-technology resources and disseminate data in an education landscape that some think is being turned on its head.

Believe it or not, developing standards and best practices for learning of any kind isn’t rocket science. I’ve been reading Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error on my new Kindle (so no page numbers), but she’s very clear on what works for secondary education: small classes, with lots of direct interaction between the student and the teacher.

Why would we expect it to be any different for higher education? Because there’s a bill of goods that the Lords of MOOC Creation would like our universities to purchase:

Two MOOC heavyweights—Anant Agarwal, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who is president of edX, and Daphne Koller, a Stanford professor who is a founder of Coursera—are also on the council.

That pretty much tells you that standards and best practices in online education has to include MOOCs in some capacity right from the beginning, otherwise those two folks wouldn’t be participating.

Wanna hear my standard and best practice for education of all kinds? One instructor for every thirty students, face-to-face or online. If you want to run a 300-person lecture course, then hire ten TAs. If you want to run a 30,000-person MOOC, then hire a thousand TAs. You say that’s not economical? Then maybe you shouldn’t run a course with 30,000 people in it in the first place.


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