Posted by: crudbasher | May 21, 2013

When Learning Is An Obsession

Are you ever totally consumed by something? Young people these days seem to be totally involved in social media, video games and other forms of entertainment. I’m sure every teacher wishes their students would be even 1/10th as interested in their own educations. Well, there are some students who are like that, but they aren’t in school…

From the Chronicle of Higher Education comes a story called What Professors Can Learn From ‘Hard Core’ MOOC Students.

Some of the people in the article are taking as many as 7 MOOC classes at once.

Nearly 100 students using Coursera, the largest provider of MOOCs, have completed 20 or more courses. And more than 900 students have finished 10 or more courses, according to the company. That means taking several courses at a time, and racing through as many lecture videos and robot-graded assignments as possible to collect certificates that carry no official credit.

Note that last part; they get no official credit. That’s weird. If you don’t get credit then why do it?

Most are driven mainly by curiosity rather than the desire to show off their certificates to any potential employer, and none has paid for a verified certificate.

There are several other things I found interesting because I have speculated about such things before. First, curiosity drives learning. (see Driven By Curiosity) Second, they are more concerned with their professor than the university offering the course.

When the students talked about the MOOCs they’ve taken, they usually mentioned the professor first. They sometimes couldn’t remember the name of the university offering the course.

I wrote about this already. (see When Teachers Become Rockstars)

Another things the students commented on is they like to have text instruction rather than video because it is easier to go back and find content they want to review. This I think will change when there are accurate machine generated transcripts.

Finally, the article asks the question are students learning as much in MOOCs as they would in a traditional course. This is a bad question. A better question would be what is the rate of return on the investment in time and money? The students are learning a lot because they want to learn it. They are doing it in an environment that is low pressure because a bunch of money isn’t on the line. Turns out, I wrote extensively about this too. (see Searching for a New Model For Learning – Part 4 )

Disruptive innovation doesn’t come down from the top, it comes up from the bottom, like this. Awesome!

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