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e-learning is b-learning

e-learning is b-learning

First, let me say that I do appreciate Daphne Koller's initiative, to the extent that there is a vision of providing academic education to people who coulkd not otherwize afford it.

However, thus far e-learning is not developed enough to being able to offering a good alternative to on-campus education. Most e-learning (also higher e-education) involves little, if any, true interaction. There is even a risk that an increased trust in e-learning is used as a rationale for universities to rationalize and, thus, providing worse quality.

The kind of e-learning that Daphne Koller describes might be a good solution for the kind of learning that implies learning facts and memorizing. However, for the kind of learning that I would call academic, in which the students interact with teachers and other students in order to train on critical thinking nd becoming independent learners, current ways of arranging e-learning are of little use.

In my own subject - management and leadership - experiential learning has lately been introduced as a way to make the education more useful. In combination with critical thinking, I dare to say that management and leadership education has grown into a true academic discipline.

This positive development runs the risk of being ruined by focusing too much on an e-learning model that is not yet developed enough to offer true interaction. Beause higher education is about maturing, questionning, developing and growing, rather than memorizing or replicating.

Dr. Anders Ă–rtenblad
Associate Professor and Director of Teaching Development
Nottingham University Business School China


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  • Sep 24 2012: Perhaps one issue to clarify is whether the goal of education is certification, or whether it is to acquire knowledge. If the goal of education is the enrichment of the mind, as we would all (perhaps naively) like to suppose, then classes from something like Coursera are beneficial in that they do not cost anything, they fit around any schedule, and they reach people who might not normally be able to attend traditional university courses.

    However, an important thing to note is that because Coursera costs nothing and is attended by thousands of people, assignments are reviewed by peers rather than professors. A person could go through the entire course, complete all of the assignments and watch all of the lectures, and have no idea where their skill and knowledge level lies in relation to the accepted degree of "competency" for that discipline. Some might say that doing away with ranking students is a good thing, because it boosts self-esteem, or because the ranking system is faulty. However, if a person who has completed all the free literature courses in the world submits for a job as a professor, the hiring board will not give them a second look, even if all of their Coursera peers said their essays were "quite good" and "very insightful."

    I am taking several Coursera classes and, as someone who already completed a literature degree in a traditional institution, I have found them to be a wonderful chance to further my knowledge, to challenge myself, and to hear other people's perspectives. But as far preparing me for professional participation in my field, the free courses on Coursera are not nearly rigorous enough. Maybe Coursera should amend their webpage where they claim to "Advance your knowledge and career."
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      Sep 24 2012: I so appreciate your sharing your perspective. I am starting a Coursera course in October just for fun, and I have been very curious in advance how feedback is handled. This must be different for assessments of a subjective character, as in a literature class, than, say, a math class about calculation.

      The website for Coursera does say that they make no claim that the courses they offer are at the level of courses in that subject taught at Stanford or at the partner university associated with the course.

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