Eureka, part 1
So as I was saying, Ed and I were having lunch in the American Diner, somewhere in the vicinity of Nyack (if I am not mistaken) and we were talking about MOOCs, and I had a eureka moment re: why MOOCs don't work, and why flipped classrooms won't work, either.
The whole MOOC/flipped classroom extravaganza of lo these past 2 years------
Has it been 2 years?
Should we date the commencement of MOOC fever to Bill Gates' anointment of Salman Khan as the new new thing?
Two seconds on Google brings us to Bill Gates on the “golden era” of learning, thanks to massive open online courses and easy access to information, so I say Yes, blame Bill Gates. Because if it wasn't Bill Gates who launched us on the MOOCs-&-flips merry-go-round, it could have been. Pretty much wherever you see a really bad idea re: public education taking hold, you will find Bill Gates.
So I blame Bill.
Anyway, Ed and I got on the subject of MOOCs, and while I no longer recall our point of departure, we pretty quickly arrived at the simple fact that MOOCs (and flips) are fantastically boring.
The fantastic boringness of MOOCs is no secret, & pretty much everyone concedes the point (though for different reasons) but the question is: Why?
Why are MOOCs fantastically boring?
More to the point, why are MOOCs fantastically boring to me, a person who is perfectly happy, and not remotely bored, listening to a live lecture delivered inside a lecture hall?
I can prove it, too. Morningside's Summer School Institute, which I attended the summer before last, used a heavy-duty lecture format; we students sat for hours of lecture, hours on end. Lecture and Powerpoints.
It was great!
By the end of the two weeks I was exhausted and my brain was fried, but I wasn't bored (just the opposite), and, more importantly, I was still in the class. Everyone was. Which would not have been the case if we'd been taking the class via MOOC.
(For the record, the first week of the Summer School Institute is largely lecture; the second week is divided between lecture and student teaching in Morningside Academy.)
My point being: I have a very high tolerance for lecture; I have no problem showing up for, learning from, and enjoying live lectures delivered in bricks-and-mortar venues. Where MOOCs are concerned, I should be a natural.
So why can't I make it through more than 2 or 3 (usually 2) taped lectures of a MOOC?
Ed brought up movies.
When you go to the movies, he said, the screen is huge, the sound is deafening, all the lights are turned off, you can't talk to your friends, and you aren't allowed to turn your cell phone on. Plus a movie lasts only a couple of hours, then you never have to see it again unless there's a sequel that you really want to see, and you don't have to see that for at least a year.
And even at the movies, even with all the ploys and devices filmmakers and theater designers have developed to hold your attention, if the plot sags, your mind wanders.
MOOCs don't have any of those things, so good luck. The wonder of it all is not that the drop-out rate for MOOCs is catastrophic, but that anyone thought they were a good idea in the first place.
TV, he said, had had to follow in the footsteps of movies. TVs are bigger, the sound is louder, the experience more immersive….
That's not really true, I said. It's definitely not true of sit coms. Sit coms are the exact same hokey, flat-lit, 3-camera affair they always were, with the laugh track telling you when to laugh, and they work. They always have.
That's when it hit me.
Part 3 t/k
Eureka, part 2
Eureka, part 3
Eureka, part 4
Eureka, part 5
Flipping the Classroom: Hot, Hot, Hot
MOOCs grow the gap
The New York Times is surprised
In the world of MOOCs, 2+2 is never 4
World's funniest joke: humor depends on surprise
Dick Van Dyke on comedy
Philip Keller on the flipped classroom
If students could talk
Who wants flipped classrooms? (Salman Khan on liberating teachers)
Are math & science lectures boring in a way humanities & social science lectures are not?