Answers for Middle-Aged Seekers of MOOCs, Part 1

04 Sep

By The New York Times

Cathy N. Davidson, a professor of English and interdisciplinary studies at Duke University, is answering questions about how to find and use Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other online continuing education tools.

Cathy N. Davidson, professor of English at Duke University who advocates new forms of learning in the digital age.

Professor Davidson, besides teaching a class, “Making Data Matter,” co-directing the Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge and holding two distinguished chairs, is a co-founder of the Humanities, Arts, Technology and Science Alliance and Collaboratory (Hastac), which describes itself as “a network of innovators dedicated to new forms of learning for the digital age.” She was appointed in 2012 by President Obama to the National Council on the Humanities and is co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions. Her 20 books include “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn” (Viking, 2011).

Earlier this year on the Hastac site, she posted an article, “Clearing Up Some Myths About MOOCs,” describing her mixed experience sampling online courses and her decision to teach a free, open, public MOOC offered through Coursera in January 2014, called The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education. (Besides working with Coursera, she is an unpaid adviser to another for-profit provider of MOOCs, Udacity, as well as dozens of other nonprofit educational institutions.)

Transcending ‘Doc on the Laptop’

Q. I’ve taken four different MOOCs through Coursera and edX, and they have all been wonderful. I’ve joined Facebook groups associated with each class and participated in discussion forums that were interesting and engaging. In one course, my peer evaluators included a medical researcher in the Philippines, a Saudi physician, a nursing student in Nigeria and a high school kid from the Midwest who was interested in the subject matter. The fact that we all had different backgrounds and levels of language skill did not diminish the quality of our interaction or the value of the course. I’m honored to consider these classmates my “peers.” — Suzanne, Atlanta

A. Suzanne, you have given us a positive and even lofty place from which to begin this conversation on MOOCs. You model the potential benefits of participating in a community of other online learners (of any age, educational background or national origin).

[ Full article available at The New York Times: ]

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in MOOCs in the News, Op-Ed



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