Again with the MOOCs!

Froma Harrop wrote an article in her syndicated column about how Massive Open Online Courses are the answer to the high cost of higher education ( – Apr 18, 2016, Higher education needs major disruption ).

Here is my comment.

While I cannot argue that pay for university administrators is way out of kilter, I think you are using that as an excuse to pawn off MOOCs onto poorer students as the solution. That to me is another rip off of that very population. MOOCs may provide opportunities for certifications, but they are the worst possible way to educate. A MOOC is NOT equivalent to learning in a brick and mortar classroom. It is lonely, reductive, narrow, and done by means of software that never allows for teachable moments or free-ranging discussions or Socratic questioning. And I’m just getting started. Would you ever hire, say, an accountant that had learned solely through online courses? MOOCs and all online courses are the worst idea to come along in education in many decades. You should be lobbying for a more equitable distribution of the wealth on campuses, not fobbing off crappy teaching methods onto the poor just because they’re cheap.

Critical Thinking and Active Learning–A Happy Marriage!

I said to a colleague the other day that teachers should know more about active learning since that approach is integral to teaching critical thinking. He just looked at me,  incredulous that this information would be news to any teacher. Well, just click on

Stanford Physicist Embarks On Mission To Improve Undergraduate Teaching

(All Things Considered 4/13/16) to hear/read Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman’s interview about how active learning “can dramatically boost learning” and why so many teachers still cling to lecturing. Why do you think they do?