MOOCs test new teaching methods

“Buried in all the hype about MOOCs is a somewhat surprising admission by some of the world’s leading universities—that their teaching methods may not be very good.

Lectures are the norm for introductory courses at colleges worldwide, from large research universities to local community colleges. But there’s a growing sense that monologues by professors are of limited effectiveness for many of today’s students. The teaching style is a tradition passed down through generations of academics, and despite the addition of computers, projectors, and PowerPoint, little has changed in the basic model: A professor talks, large numbers of students listen, and one or two brave souls ask questions in the final moments. Class dismissed.

When Harvard and MIT announced that they would pump $30-million each into edX, they stressed that a key reason was to use the MOOC platform as a laboratory to test new teaching methods that could be brought back to their renowned campuses.”