Posted on August 8, 2012by Jonathan Rees at moreorlessbunk
So I signed up for a MOOC. Seriously. A History of the World since 1300, taught by Jeremy Adelman from a certain university located in my hometown of Princeton, New Jersey.
Why would I of all people do such a thing? Well, I’ve had something of a complex about my overspecialization in American history since my first teaching job at Whitman College. Unlike Wisconsin, which had Americanists coming out of its ears, Americanists were in the minority at Whitman so the old Europeanists teased me for having such a limited knowledge base. I’ve rectified that somewhat through independent reading, but I could definitely stand to learn more specific factual knowledge from outside my country of specialty.
Then I watched this TED talk by Coursera’s Daphne Koller and got a little excited. I had never seen so detailed an explanation of the mechanics of MOOCs, and it seems as if they’ve gone to great lengths to help students learn the kind of factual knowledge that I’m missing when it comes to world history.
Have I lost my mind? Nope. Am I pulling a Whittaker Chambers or a David Horowitz on the subject of MOOCs? Nope. As anyone who’s ever watched a TED video knows, there are parts of every such speech that make you want to take a hammer to your computer screen (and I’ll get to that one for me in this speech in just a second). However, as I’m on sabbatical for this coming this semester, learning world history seems like a good use for some of my extra time.* In fact, there’s a place on my annual performance review for extra education which I’ve never had occasion to mark before. I’m absolutely going to put this down.
Read full post here (Originally posted August 6, 2012)