Monday, August 29, 2011

Stanford courses - open to all

When is a course a course? Stanford is offering access to a course on artificial intelligence that has attracted thousands - over 135,000 have signed up as of August 29, 2011. Students will not get grades, but will get a "statement of accomplishment." It's not clear from the web site if Stanford's on-campus students will be meeting face-to-face in addition to the online version open to outsiders. (Additional courses are being offered online and open access as well.) Some question this kind of learning. How does this online experience stack up against actually being on-campus and working with others face-to-face? Is there some thing - something we can't even quite describe - about being on-campus, showing up for a face-to-face class, that just cannot be replicated in an online experience? Yes, probably to some extent working face-to-face with professors and other students (i.e. those interested in learning the same things you want to learn) has some benefits. Even though I'm convinced that learning takes place outside/beyond/without traditional classroom experiences, there are those art degrees I have... I really needed the face-to-face contact with other art students. Paying tuition to avail myself of an organized situation with a concentration of art students and art professors.. I think that was necessary for me. BUT.. really - the only way people learn is sitting across from each other in a classroom? We ought to be passed that discussion. Shouldn't the question be what do faculty need to do to give online students the best possible experience?

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