Monday, July 22, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N29): MOOCs again, Dr. Who, Fiction in Business, 1970s NYC, Flipping the class.

The Economist on MOOC's
The industry has similar network economics to Amazon, eBay and Google, says Ms Koller, in that “content producers go to where most consumers are, and consumers go to where the most content is.” Simon Nelson, the chief executive of FutureLearn, disagrees. “Anyone who thinks the rules of engagement have already been written by the existing players is massively underestimating the potential of the technology,” he says.
Certainly, there is plenty of experimentation with business models taking place. The MOOCs themselves may be free, but those behind them think there will be plenty of revenue opportunities. Coursera has started charging to provide certificates for those who complete its courses and want proof, perhaps for a future employer. It is also starting to license course materials to universities that want to beef up their existing offering. However, it has abandoned for now attempts to help firms recruit employees from among Coursera’s students, because catering to the different needs of each employer was “not a scalable model”, says Ms Koller.

That big MOOC initiative announced by San Jose State six months ago is on-hold (IHeD)
San Jose State Provost Ellen Junn said disappointing student performance will prompt the university to stop offering online classes with Udacity this fall as part of a "short breather."  Junn wants to spend the fall going over the results and talking with faculty members about the university’s online experimentation, which extends beyond the Udacity partnership and has proved somewhat controversial. She said the plan is to start working with Udacity again in spring 2014.  “I think the commitment is to look at the data carefully and make adjustments,” Junn said in a telephone interview Wednesday.  Preliminary findings from the spring semester suggest students in the online Udacity courses, which were developed jointly with San Jose State faculty, do not fare as well as students who attended normal classes -- though Junn cautioned against reading too much into the comparison, given the significant differences in the student populations.

The Daleks and Dr. Who make a show at Comic-Com (Guardian)
The big news outside the Comic-Con panel was confirmation that the Daleks are coming back for the 50th anniversary. Said Moffat: "The Doctor once said that you can judge a man by the quality of his enemies, so it's fitting that for this very special episode, he should be facing the greatest enemies of all." (A biscuit for anyone who got that reference to Remembrance of the Daleks.) But from the publicity stills we've already seen, the Daleks in question are the ones from the Russell T Davies era.
Photos of 1970s NYC (Atlantic)

And so closes Maxwells in Hoboken (New York)
“Maxwell’s felt like a Portkey in Harry Potter,” says ex–Hoboken resident Chris Stamey, one of the many musicians  mourning the great venue’s passing. In the pantheon of important New York City rock clubs—Max’s Kansas City, CBGB, the Bottom Line—Maxwell’s ranks as high as any, even though its legal address is New Jersey. Hoboken was still known mostly as Frank Sinatra’s birthplace when Steve Fallon began booking unknown bands in his tiny, plain bar 35 years ago. On July 31, after countless nights of weird music from acts that went on to fame (Nirvana, R.E.M.) or didn’t (the New Marines drew only one paying customer), the first couple of bands to perform at Maxwell’s—the Bongos and a—will play a final show, and the club will close.
Flipping the class room for ancient Rome (Chronicle)
For me it all started last August, when I na├»vely assumed that the students would be delighted to listen to short lectures at their own pace and away from an uncomfortable and noisy auditorium.  The problem, I soon discovered, was that nobody told the students they were supposed to hate lectures. They were genuinely disoriented when I didn't spend class time lecturing. Only about 25 percent of them watched the prerecorded lectures before class. As a result, class discussion of content became an exercise in futility. Their comments at the end of the semester made it clear that about two-thirds of them preferred a typical lecture class.  I'm pretty sure my students would have been no more interested in watching a Superprofessor lecture on Ancient Rome than they were in watching me—it wasn't me or my style (as they clearly said in the surveys); it was the extra work required of them.
Assigning fiction reading in business school (HBR)
My view of what makes literature so valuable in the classroom is that it helps students really get inside individuals who are making decisions. It helps them see things as these people in the stories actually see them. And that's because the inner life of the characters is imagined and described, in many cases, by brilliant writers whose sense of how people really think and how they really work have been tested by time over decades or even centuries.  We have students, as you know, from a wide variety of backgrounds. And many of them take this course because they've got their own sort of personal interests and concerns-- things they're really trying to think through. And what they often really learn is not sort of what the author put in there, but they learn what other students see and understand and are troubled by or like in these stories.  So it's a very complex form of learning, but it's very different from the old instructional model. In many ways, it's like the case method approach to learning.

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