Friday, November 15, 2013

One Face of the MOOC

Professor Yuval N. Harari's Coursera history course is exactly the kind of MOOC that Historian Jonathan Rees likes to hold up to scorn. Just lectures, mostly from a guy sitting in an armchair. No required outside reading. No writing assignments. No in class discussion. And the tests are easy multiple choice.

Well, I still like it a lot. Well prepared lectures have a lot to offer. Sure, I could read the words faster, but the human voice has a compelling quality of its own.

Listening to some guy talking is not going to work for all courses. I don't think you can learn much physics that way, especially if you don't do any problem sets. Some professors, maybe most, give boring or badly structured lectures, don't present the material at the appropriate level, or just happen to be annoying to listen to.

But I really like this little Israeli guy, with his funky accent and original (to me) take on the big picture of global history.