By Michael Fitzgerald
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) may not yet be driving down tuition, but they’re starting to kill the traditional lecture class.
At Duke University, professors who teach MOOCs tend to go back and do a radical revision of their on-campus classes.
“That’s true for at least half the faculty who developed MOOC classes,” said Lynne M. O’Brien, Duke’s associate vice provost for digital and online education initiatives. She said this was no surprise: MOOCs free professors from constraints required by for-credit classes, like length and format. “People are free to innovate in ways you can’t do with a typical course,” she said.
A case in point is the class on logic and critical reasoning taught by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. Last fall, he co-taught one of the most popular classes ever, Think Again: How to Reason and Argue. The Coursera course was a sensation, drawing more than 170,000 students, more than 100,000 of whom participated and viewed the course lectures a total of 4 million times.
Sinnott-Armstrong and his co-teacher, Ram Neta of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have spent their summers making radical changes not to their Coursera class, but to the similar courses they teach on their respective campuses.
The big shift: far fewer in-class lectures. Students will watch the lectures on Coursera beginning Monday. “Class will become a time for activities and also teamwork,” said Sinnott-Armstrong. He’s devised exercises to help on-campus students engage with the concepts in the class, including a college bowl-like competition, a murder mystery night and a scavenger hunt, all to help students develop a deeper understanding of the material presented in the lectures.
[ Full article available at InformationWeek: http://www.informationweek.com/education/online-learning/moocs-lead-duke-to-reinvent-on-campus-co/240160438 ]