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The MOOC revolution that wasn’t (dailydot.com)
18 points by PretzelFisch on Aug 23, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments



I really have to take exception to this (characterizing MOOCs as some sort of useful-only-for-signalling high-tech "vocational training" for the privileged).

I've been working through Andrew Ng's Machine learning class (https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning/home/welcome) on Coursera, and I think it's wonderful. It begins a bit slow-paced, and I definitely supplement the lectures with readings and the class notes for CS 229 (http://cs229.stanford.edu/materials.html) that broadly match the content of the online course, but I absolutely love the course.

The lectures are well-paced and have 'in-line' quizzes to test your understanding as you go. The problem sets are easy to do at any time, with optional components and instructions that let you understand the material better if you want to deep dive. The course itself is available to start whenever you choose, which means barrier for entry is very low.

MOOCs may not be everything that they first promised, but they definitely win in terms of the sheer accessibility of content and the flexibility of the format. I would not be learning machine learning right now if the only available format was dead-tree or (worse) putting together information piecemeal from blog posts.


I don't think this is much of a response to the piece's argument. Yes, high-level tech classes are a use-case where MOOCs work. But MOOC companies have repeatedly presented them as useful for intro-level and non-technical courses--and they aren't.

It's great if MOOCs help you with high-level tech stuff. But that's not what most students want or need. Someone in a low-level math or composition class is likely to need far more interaction with their instructor (which is what I take the article to be arguing).


Serious editor fail: the main subject of the article is an acronym used ~20 times without ever defining it. I know what it stands for, but I'm sure some readers were frustrated by that.


"Although MOOCs were hardly new in 2012—the term had been coined four years earlier by Canadian educators to describe their experiments with “connected,” open online learning— ..."

I suppose that passes as a basic explanation, but I agree that a better definition would be nice.


> We need more diverse students in computer science. But the track record of MOOCs in supporting all students’ needs should give us pause.

In the last MOOC I signed up for one of the first things I read once inside was that it was 80% male and I should go encourage some females to join. Being a male I took this as a signal that I wasn't particularly wanted or valued in that course and I thought allow me to help your gender ratio by not participating.

It's strange they're simultaneously alienating their core users in order to "increase diversity" and complaining that their numbers aren't staying high enough.




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