Economics, MOOCs, syllabus

Economics research and some MOOC thoughts

I want to write a post about students calling for an overhaul of how Economics is taught. You have probably seen the posts – too mathematical, more heterodox stuff…(yada, yada). I think there is a possible project in there – asking fourth years about this, maybe starting a blog on which they can help co-create a syllabus. I’m going to get a team together and do something like this for a paper at next year’s ESSA conference. But at the moment I can’t make the time for enough reading for a sensible post. Give me a shout if this sounds like something you and your students would be interested in.

I have written about MOOCs before and following my reading of Average is over I also think that there are limits to what students will teach themselves online. There is a big role for professor as missionary and coach, and face-to-face higher ed is here to stay. And then I had my ideas confirmed by a post at the Education Outrage blog. It makes some good points, for example:

What is education? Its an experience, mentored by an expert, in which the student tries to accomplish something, fails, and then after some discussion with peers and mentors, tries again.
This is not a new idea, Most PhD programs work this way. But since universities care about undergraduates just enough to require a thousand of them to fill a lecture hall, now they are doing it online so the numbers can get much bigger. It’s all about money. (And, to be honest, the fear of seeming to be falling behind.)

For me the big insight was how boring those lectured captured MOOC video’s are. Watch any of them, or watch all that the post links to – you will have to be really motivated to work through a whole course like that on your own. I doubt if many of my students are. And that probably means that they are coming to class for other reasons than to hear me speak.

Luckily we are close to the end of the semester now, with more sensible posts (and hopefully classes) to follow after the exam.


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