Whitman

Winter                                                             Seed Catalog Moon

Started another MOOC today.  I won’t be taking a certificate in this one, just as I didn’t take one in the Modern/Post Modern class.  This class focuses on Walt Whitman, ModPo piqued my interest in him and his work.

EdX is another of the MOOC providers, this one tends toward the more high brow: M.I.T., Harvard.  The Whitman class is taught by a Harvard professor and I can’t tell you how many times she mentioned Harvard, Harvard’s resources and the number of poets who attended Harvard.  That put me off.  On the other hand she seems to have an interesting pedagogy in play, one congruent with Whitman which involves taking poetry to the streets and to other cities.

I plan to read the poetry, listen to the lectures and let the rest of it wash over me.  In the climate change MOOC I’m going for the certificate which means all the quizes, two exams, required activities.  I haven’t taken a mid-term or a final exam in over twenty years.  Should be fun.

There seem to be more critiques than praises right now popping up about MOOC’s. Expensive to set up and difficult to maintain.  Not as good as professor-student interaction.  Confusing to students and employers about who is certifying a student’s capabilities.  This is the anti-thesis of the revolutionary heavy breathing that began when they came out.

There is a synthesis down the line that will find MOOC’s do a great job of teaching disciplined students, especially such students geographically dispersed.  There will be proctored exams and course series that function like college majors.  A degree may no longer have only one institution behind it, but a coterie, an alliance, an association.

Will MOOC’s replace current colleges and universities?  Probably not.  Almost certainly not.  Will some of them get replaced?  Almost certainly.  Bricks and mortar is not the only way to learn and the more options students have the better for them.  This may not be best for the current geocentric system, but for whom was it built in the first place?  The student.  The issue is the education, its quality, availability and affordability.  If a few campuses have to become housing complexes, that’s no great loss.

 

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