Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In which economists know nothing about teaching and probably less about learning

This is a rant so I thought I’d blow off steam here instead of being rude on MR:

In an online lecture it pays to be concise. Online, the student is in control and can choose when and what to repeat. The result is a big time-savings as students proceed as fast as their capabilities can take them, repeating only what they need to further their individual understanding.

If I’m not making much sense the first time I say it, no matter how many times someone plays back the same incomprehensible words it’s still NOT going to make much sense. It’s the same idea as reading the same incomprehensible passage over and over again. Can’t you get it into your thick skull?

I’m swamped in coursework with Coursera right now (but enjoying it). There is huge IF in online education in general which goes something like this: Assuming that teaching at the college level at its current approach (which is mainly “chalk and talk”) then all educators need to do is bring the in-classroom experience online.

The big IF is the assumption that college level teaching is at its optimum or its current best and many (not all) online courses seem to assume that all the professors have to do is make a video of them standing in front of a blackboard (or a projector screen) available and all is well in the world. There is very little difference between this approach and just having power point slides with a voice behind it. If I don’t get something 5 minutes into the lecture, playing it back 100 times isn’t going to do much good.