April 14, 2013

The changing face of education


“Welcome to Introduction to Genetics and Evolution!!!

“As you begin the course, please do the following:

“From the menu, select “Philosophy” and read about what we are offering and what we expect from our students.

“Review “Due Dates” to see when problem sets and exams will be open and due, and “Grading Policy” to find information about grades.

“Look over the “Video/Topic Schedule” to get a sense of the overall plan for course topics and the key ideas in each lecture.”

It continued with much more, including information on lectures, problem sets and exams, discussion forums (like chat rooms) and so on and so forth. (Due Dates present an interesting problem as students register from time zones all over the world.)

I eagerly began the course and my initial impressions were twofold:

1.CMI had changed a lot.

2.CMI had not changed very much at all.

Impression No. 1 was based on the slick presentation and the sheer quantity of resources available to the student under the newer system.

Impression No. 2 was the realization that while the quantity and speed of delivery of the resources had radically accelerated, the type and kind of resources were pretty much the same.

My ACCOLADE system of the 1970s contained a “Yellow Pages” of resources, which comprised: Printed Material (books, magazines, journals, etc), Other university courses, Other lessons on the computer, People, Movies, Videotapes and Audiotapes.

These resources were linked through a Semantic Network that displayed the topics to be learned, as well as the relationships between them.

Like Coursera and similar MOOCs, ACCOLADE also provided an email and a bulletin-board system so learners and teachers could communicate, as well as the opportunity for students to take self-paced tests and evaluations.

While Coursera can provide its resources online to truly massive class sizes (claims of more than 100,000 are common), ACCOLADE had a more tightly integrated navigational system via the semantic net.

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