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Maureen Greenbaum

The Future of College? - The Atlantic - 29 views

  • proprietary online platform developed to apply pedagogical practices that have been studied and vetted by one of the world’s foremost psychologists, a former Harvard dean named Stephen M. Kosslyn, who joined Minerva in 2012.
  • inductive reasoning
  • Minerva class extended no refuge for the timid, nor privilege for the garrulous. Within seconds, every student had to provide an answer, and Bonabeau displayed our choices so that we could be called upon to defend them.
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  • subjecting us to pop quizzes, cold calls, and pedagogical tactics that during an in-the-flesh seminar would have taken precious minutes of class time to arrange.
  • felt decidedly unlike a normal classroom. For one thing, it was exhausting: a continuous period of forced engagement, with no relief in the form of time when my attention could flag
  • One educational psychologist, Ludy Benjamin, likens lectures to Velveeta cheese—something lots of people consume but no one considers either delicious or nourishing.)
  • because I had to answer a quiz question or articulate a position. I was forced, in effect, to learn
  • adically remake one of the most sclerotic sectors of the U.S. economy, one so shielded from the need for improvement that its biggest innovation in the past 30 years has been to double its costs and hire more administrators at higher salaries.
  • past half millennium, the technology of learning has hardly budge
  • fellow edu-nauts
  • Lectures are banned
  • attending class on Apple laptops
  • Lectures, Kosslyn says, are cost-effective but pedagogically unsound. “A great way to teach, but a terrible way to learn.”
  • Minerva boast is that it will strip the university experience down to the aspects that are shown to contribute directly to student learning. Lectures, gone. Tenure, gone. Gothic architecture, football, ivy crawling up the walls—gone, gone, gone.
  • “Your cash cow is the lecture, and the lecture is over,” he told a gathering of deans. “The lecture model ... will be obliterated.”
  • One imagines tumbleweeds rolling through abandoned quads and wrecking balls smashing through the windows of classrooms left empty by students who have plugged into new online platforms.
  • when you have a noncurated academic experience, you effectively don’t get educated.
  • Liberal-arts education is about developing the intellectual capacity of the individual, and learning to be a productive member of society. And you cannot do that without a curriculum.”
  • “The freshman year [as taught at traditional schools] should not exist,” Nelson says, suggesting that MOOCs can teach the basics. “Do your freshman year at home.”) Instead, Minerva’s first-year classes are designed to inculcate what Nelson calls “habits of mind” and “foundational concepts,” which are the basis for all sound systematic thought. In a science class, for example, students should develop a deep understanding of the need for controlled experiments. In a humanities class, they need to learn the classical techniques of rhetoric and develop basic persuasive skills. The curriculum then builds from that foundation.
  • What, he asks, does it mean to be educated?
  • methods will be tested against scientifically determined best practices
  • Subsidies, Nelson says, encourage universities to enroll even students who aren’t likely to thrive, and to raise tuition, since federal money is pegged to costs.
  • We have numerous sound, reproducible experiments that tell us how people learn, and what teachers can do to improve learning.” Some of the studies are ancient, by the standards of scientific research—and yet their lessons are almost wholly ignored.
  • memory of material is enhanced by “deep” cognitive tasks
  • he found the man’s view of education, in a word, faith-based
  • ask a student to explain a concept she has been studying, the very act of articulating it seems to lodge it in her memory. Forcing students to guess the answer to a problem, and to discuss their answers in small groups, seems to make them understand the problem better—even if they guess wrong.
  • e traditional concept of “cognitive styles”—visual versus aural learners, those who learn by doing versus those who learn by studying—is muddled and wrong.
  • pedagogical best practices Kosslyn has identified have been programmed into the Minerva platform so that they are easy for professors to apply. They are not only easy, in fact, but also compulsory, and professors will be trained intensively in how to use the platform.
  • Professors are able to sort students instantly, and by many metrics, for small-group work—
  • a pop quiz at the beginning of a class and (if the students are warned in advance) another one at a random moment later in the class greatly increases the durability of what is learned.
  • he could have alerted colleagues to best practices, but they most likely would have ignored them. “The classroom time is theirs, and it is sacrosanct,
  • Lectures, Kosslyn says, are pedagogically unsound,
  • I couldn’t wait for Minerva’s wrecking ball to demolish the ivory tower.
  • The MOOCs will eventually make lectures obsolete.”
  • Minerva’s model, Nelson says, will flourish in part because it will exploit free online content, rather than trying to compete with it, as traditional universities do.
  • The MOOCs will eventually make lectures obsolete.”
  • certain functions of universities have simply become less relevant as information has become more ubiquitous
  • Minerva challenges the field to return to first principles.
  • MOOCs will continue to get better, until eventually no one will pay Duke or Johns Hopkins for the possibility of a good lecture, when Coursera offers a reliably great one, with hundreds of thousands of five-star ratings, for free.
  • It took deep concentration,” he said. “It’s not some lecture class where you can just click ‘record’ on your tape.”
  • part of the process of education happens not just through good pedagogy but by having students in places where they see the scholars working and plying their trades.”
  • “hydraulic metaphor” of education—the idea that the main task of education is to increase the flow of knowledge into the student—an “old fallacy.”
  • I remembered what I was like as a teenager headed off to college, so ignorant of what college was and what it could be, and so reliant on the college itself to provide what I’d need in order to get a good education.
  • it is designed to convey not just information, as most MOOCs seem to, but whole mental tool kits that help students become morethoughtful citizens.
  • for all the high-minded talk of liberal education— of lighting fires and raising thoughtful citizens—is really just a credential, or an entry point to an old-boys network that gets you your first job and your first lunch with the machers at your alumni club.
  • Its seminar platform will challenge professors to stop thinking they’re using technology just because they lecture with PowerPoint.
  • professors and students increasingly separated geographically, mediated through technology that alters the nature of the student-teacher relationship
  • The idea that college will in two decades look exactly as it does today increasingly sounds like the forlorn, fingers-crossed hope of a higher-education dinosaur that retirement comes before extinction.
Randolph Hollingsworth

Do Majors Matter? - Inside Higher Ed - 0 views

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    Sociology and foreign languages at the top of undergraduate majors if you are interested in seeing gains in critical thinking skills in higher ed - could be some pedagogical models for folks in the natural sciences to emulate since they were at the bottom!
Ed Webb

Times Higher Education - Dummies' guides to teaching insult our intelligence - 0 views

  • if you encourage discussion in class, you have to be prepared for your students to arrive at conclusions that are unpalatable to you.
  • When I started, largely out of exasperation, to investigate the educational research literature for myself, I was pleasantly surprised to find there was some genuinely useful and scholarly work out there, which recognised the demands of different subjects and even admitted that university lecturers aren't all workshy and stupid... It's a shame that this better stuff doesn't seem to have fed through into the generic courses that most institutions offer. My personal advice to anyone starting out as a university teacher: find a few colleagues who take their teaching seriously (there are almost certain to be some in the department) and ask them for advice; sit in on their classes if possible; remember you'll never teach perfectly but you can always teach better; and close your ears to well-meaning interference from anybody who's never actually spent time at the chalkface!
  • Magueijo's could acknowledge that some people teaching these courses are genuinely concerned about improving teaching, and they need academics' help in designing better courses that do so. Sotto's side should acknowldge that however much they talk about how important teaching is (as if they discovered this, and academics did not know), they are not listening to the people attending their courses if those people feel utterly patronised and frustrated at the waste of their time. If academics treated their students like educationalists treat their student academics they'd be appalling teachers. A simple course allowing us to learn from a video of our own lectures would be immensely useful. Instead whole empires of education have developed that need to justify themselves and grow, so they subject us to educational jargon and make us write essays on the educationalist's pet theory.
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  • I would have preferred that David Pritchard had written it; his comments above are perfect.
  • Most colleagues with excellent teaching reputations seem not to oppose training per se, but bad training.
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