DailyDirt: Getting An Online Education...

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The existing system of going to a school, listening to lectures and getting a degree after you've passed some tests might not be the way education will operate in the near future. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) promise to teach a wide array of subjects, and there are plenty of students willing to try out these online classes instead of sleeping through another boring lecture at 8am. Obviously, not all the kinks have been worked out yet, and there will undoubtedly be online degrees that aren't worth the paper they may (or may not) be printed on. Still, there are some interesting developments in the field of education, and here are just a few. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2013 @ 5:31pm

    As a recent high school grad who had to take mandatory online classes, I simply cannot see a good mass implementation of online instruction. If we can't get things right in person, what chance do we have when we're separated?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2013 @ 5:51pm

    Re: online classes

    Online classes aren't for everyone. Some students do better with in-person tutors, and some do better by nearly all self-study. Requiring a certain method of teaching probably won't serve everyone, but offering a variety of ways to be taught give everyone more flexibility.

    There are good/bad teachers both in-person and online......

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2013 @ 7:32pm

    The question is what is being tought.

    If the objective is to learn math, engineering, physics, biology, medicine, history, et on line courses may work in the aspect of the professor directing the student in the right direction for self study and self improvement in a technical aspect.

    If on the other-hand the objective is leadership, communication, or other people interactive skills then the results will probably be, really be, a dismal failure for people skills (computer skills are written not interpersonal) can not be learned except by interacting with real people. If you want real people skills you really need to work in a bar and mortuary, ride with a cop, learn public speaking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2013 @ 8:04pm

    I've seen both good and bad implementations of online coursework.

    Bad = OWL chemistry. Every time I used their mandatory homework programs, the experience left me black with rage that anything so horribly designed could be inflicted upon humanity for a grade. I actually codes my own programs to solve the chemistry problems because I was so sickened by OWL.

    Good = Duolingo languages. Ironically also symbolized by an owl. I spent hours grinding so that I could finish each lesson with all my lives intact. Never before have I been in a situation where I did homework problems over and over until I got 100% on all the problems. Also, I wanted to beat out a stranger I had never met but who was trying to get ahead of me on the scoreboard in terms of the skillpoints the game awards. Intolerable!

    The OWL approach was your standard punitive approach: get it right or we'll give you a bad grade. The gamified Duolingo approach was based on providing game rewards such as points, lives, and bragging rights. One approach made me hate chemistry with a deep, brooding passion. The other approach seems to have the potential for addictive behavior.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2013 @ 4:40am


    lol - people skills and cop in the same sentence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    RyanNerd (profile), 17 May 2013 @ 5:00am

    I remember the late 70's

    Teachers were all worried that they were going to be replaced by computers. I had one teacher who refused to accept any reports unless they were done by typewriter.
    I had a dot matrix NLQ printer.
    I told my dad about this and he said: "Damn educators. They have less IQ than a turnip. Go ahead send your report in using the printer."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2013 @ 5:14am


    when i was in college, online classes were few and far between, but probably one of the best classes i ever took was a data visualization class online. the entire class consisted of us downloading a zip of course materials once a week and corresponding via email with the professor. i never met the man in person, but he was one of the most thoughtful and inspiring teachers i have ever had.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    zerostar83 (profile), 17 May 2013 @ 12:14pm

    Online Classes a Joke

    Online classes are a joke. I've taken several, and they're pretty much the same format. Answer homework questions in a general forum (or just copy everyone else's answer since they all just wait until one guy posts the answer), then leave 2 comments on two other people's answers (like saying good job!). THEN, you take quizzes/tests online, most of them multiple choice. You can either do it the hard way be flipping through the index of your textbook for every question, or you can just copy/paste the questions into an online search engine. One class even used the quiz/test questions from the textbook publishers, which made it easy to find answer keys online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    JackOfShadows (profile), 18 May 2013 @ 10:54pm

    The military...

    If you are looking for why, what, when, where and how distance learning should be done, just go look at the military. We've been doing it for decades. Correspondence, computerized, online, peer-to-peer, temporarily assigned (non-military) professors (even if not degreed in that subject but know how), whatever. The subjects can be pretty much anything and help is usually close to hand given our diverse backgrounds and skills. The really nice thing, as I've found from personal experience, is being able to challenge anything in the courses, even subject requirements, and actually see the changes made rapidly to correct a poor to awful situation. Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt.

    I've heard, damn near my whole life given both parents (then) serving, how unintelligent service members are and similarly poorly educated. The day of the dumb private or hick bosun's mate are far in the past. Part and parcel in the services today, you are not only a student, you are expected to be an instructor if only in your professional field(s). And if no teacher is handy, do it at a distance and practice locally.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Jen Cook, 23 Jul 2013 @ 8:03am

    The Future

    I absolutely believe online education is the future, it may not be for everyone, but I do believe it is the future, and that technology and education are always merging.

    Great article!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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