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Author Topic: Supersizing the College Classroom  (Read 18932 times)
larryc
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« Reply #45 on: May 05, 2012, 1:32:14 AM »

4) Badges! Certificates of competency in X or Y. Universities will offer badges for folks who can come in (or online) and pass a test in X.
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spork
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« Reply #46 on: May 05, 2012, 6:25:58 AM »

4) Badges! Certificates of competency in X or Y. Universities will offer badges for folks who can come in (or online) and pass a test in X.

I know people are going to say that this is simply the practice of standardized testing that we have now taken to an even more unproductive extreme. What I'm pointing out is that if you score in the top 100 out of the 500,000 people who take a course taught by Sebastian Thrun online, that itself is a badge that a lot of employers are going to value much more highly than a four year degree from a non-elite university.

Here are the assignments for the campus version of the CS course taught by Thrun and Norvig at Stanford, copied from http://www.stanford.edu/class/cs221/:

- Approximately 20 lectures.

- Online quizzes not counted towards the final grade of this class. Quizzes graded instantly upon submission.

- 8 homework assignments, also online; only the scores on the top 6 out of the 8 count toward the final grade.

- 4 programming assignments, the last being a larger programming contest that counts as the course's significant implementation requirement.

- One midterm and one final exam.

All of this can be done entirely online, with the only trick being the programming and server capacity to evaluate the work of 100-500,000 students.

In a sense we have diluted our own brand by promoting the idea that "everyone" should go to college and through massive grade inflation. Grades at the high school and college level are now mostly meaningless -- they don't signify anything significant about a student to employers. So you have people spending $100-150K on a credential that means less than a single free online course taught by an ex-Stanford professor.
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

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"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
spork
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« Reply #47 on: May 05, 2012, 8:51:59 AM »

The difference between David Brooks and me is that he gets paid to write this stuff and I don't:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/opinion/brooks-the-campus-tsunami.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
larryc
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« Reply #48 on: May 05, 2012, 2:32:00 PM »

Oh I was not being sarcastic, Spork, I think that certification of knowledge gained elsewhere will be a growth area and eventually one of the core functions of universities.
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history_grrrl
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« Reply #49 on: May 05, 2012, 4:38:36 PM »

For some reason, none of the comments on the article seem to address the content of this guy's course. But the very first comment to appear is this one:

"John Boyer is basically the best teacher ever. I still remember his lecture in which he framed the Star Wars missile defense bluff that led to the fall of the Soviet Union as an idea that someone drunkenly scribbled on a napkin and gave to Reagan at a White House cocktail party."

So, John Boyer, who has an M.S. in geography, is teaching his students that "the Star Wars missile defense bluff . . . led to the fall of the Soviet Union"?

Seriously? Yikes.

If anyone's going to teach a 3,000-student class, it would be nice if they knew what the hell they were talking about. I'd vastly prefer to see larryc and spork up there than this guy.
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spork
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« Reply #50 on: May 05, 2012, 6:06:23 PM »

I'm going to bet that larryc looks much cuter in plaid than I do.
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
merinoblue
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« Reply #51 on: May 05, 2012, 6:17:03 PM »

I'm going to bet that larryc looks much cuter in plaid than I do.

No one looks cute in plaid. 
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notaprof
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« Reply #52 on: May 05, 2012, 6:20:39 PM »

I'm going to bet that larryc looks much cuter in plaid than I do.

No one looks cute in plaid. 
I beg to differ.
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anisogamy
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« Reply #53 on: May 05, 2012, 6:20:44 PM »

I'm going to bet that larryc looks much cuter in plaid than I do.

No one looks cute in plaid. 

I swear I used to.  Wow, I miss those pants.
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merinoblue
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« Reply #54 on: May 05, 2012, 6:24:16 PM »

I'm going to bet that larryc looks much cuter in plaid than I do.

No one looks cute in plaid. 
I beg to differ.

When you're under 22, you can look cute in anything.  But professionals shouldn't go near plaid.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #55 on: May 05, 2012, 6:31:08 PM »

I'm going to bet that larryc looks much cuter in plaid than I do.

No one looks cute in plaid. 
I beg to differ.

When you're under 22, you can look cute in anything.  But professionals shouldn't go near plaid.

Nobody ever better tell that to the petroleum engineers and geologists I know.  They are plaid guys and do look good.
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jonesey
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« Reply #56 on: May 08, 2012, 10:12:37 AM »

Plaid =/= flannel.  

I'd love to do this but my administration would have a fit over how to write the ACOs.  We're all up in arms about standardized coursework, ACOs, and Learning Management software that it's like I'm teaching at a HS (learning plans, standardize syllabi, etc).  Plus, the drop out rate for online students is, at my institution, hovering at around 80%.  We're looking at moving people into classrooms, not out of them. Also, if you teach at a school where not everyone has a computer at home, or uses social media (most of my students have no idea what Twitter is), then this falls apart pretty quickly.  

VT is pretty elite compared to most colleges.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 10:13:08 AM by jonesey » Logged

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cgfunmathguy
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« Reply #57 on: May 08, 2012, 10:35:08 AM »

ACOs?
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spork
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« Reply #58 on: May 08, 2012, 10:53:51 AM »

Plaid =/= flannel.  

I'd love to do this but my administration would have a fit over how to write the ACOs.  We're all up in arms about standardized coursework, ACOs, and Learning Management software that it's like I'm teaching at a HS (learning plans, standardize syllabi, etc).  Plus, the drop out rate for online students is, at my institution, hovering at around 80%.  We're looking at moving people into classrooms, not out of them. Also, if you teach at a school where not everyone has a computer at home, or uses social media (most of my students have no idea what Twitter is), then this falls apart pretty quickly.  

VT is pretty elite compared to most colleges.

Sounds like your administration is going at this completely the wrong way.

Boyer demonstrates the need to put the faculty who are the most passionate about what they do into the courses that students encounter first -- i.e., the core or gen ed curriculum, which many institutions farm out to adjuncts. The message to students when they hit a course taught be an instructor who is obviously not interested in the subject material: this course is a meaningless requirement and a waste of my time, therefore will do the absolute minimum I need to do to check the box.

Ng and Thrun demonstrate how uniform standards of rigor and assessment are massively scalable if a course or curriculum has the right architecture and support.

A common syllabus across multiple sections without any effective quality control over how the content is delivered is a recipe for disaster.

Giving students some degree of choice -- a la themed first year seminars with actual college level content, like "Siege Engine Construction: Design and History" -- will generate more student buy-in and thereby improve learning outcomes.
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
jonesey
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« Reply #59 on: May 08, 2012, 12:01:21 PM »

ACOs?

Administrative Course Outline: the bullet point list of things students are required to know (and that I am required to cover) during a course.  Includes texts, course objectives ("essential" or "important" or n/a), evaluation requirements (the percentages that reflect evaluation and assessment methods appropriate for on-ground and online delivery of the course, i.e. assignments and weights of each), minimum amount of writing assignments and length of each, and suggestions of appropriate "possible readings and presentation order". 

My evaluations are directly related to how well I ensure that students understand/absorb/"learn" the "essential" and "important" objectives listed in the ACO for each of the four courses I teach.

@Spork: I agree with what you're saying, but our online courses are 100% adjunct, taught by people who live around the country; we have no direct control over our adjuncts as our online courses are farmed out to a separate administrative system (including hiring) than our onground university.  Ng and Thrum, Stanford, EdX, etc, are not teaching CC kids, or their teaching open enrollment courses for no grade and self-paced learning.  The elephant in the room is that a highly selective group of students, with top SAT scores, high GPAs, who have been trying to get into college since they were 5, is not the norm (and will probably excell anywhere they go to school).
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