Monday, May 27, 2013

Arguments With Humanities Professors

I have been debating the merits of the new Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) lately, mostly with a bunch of humanities profs. It would be more precise to say that they come up with all sorts of reasons MOOCs can't, and shouldn't be allowed to work or exist. Essentially they argue that the in person prof is the key to actual learning. It's not obvious that this is false.

Why do we need profs anyway? To design the course? A book can do that, and can be more detailed and more precise. To evaluate student performance? Well maybe, but robo-grading works for factual and technique testing, though maybe not for grading essays - yet anyway. To give lectures? They are better on my computer, I think, where I can pause them when I feel like it, or repeat segments when I need to. To answer questions? OK, but Wikipedia can do that. I seem to be left with the task of leading and guiding class discussions.

Am I missing anything?