pathfinder at lindenlab.com
Wed Mar 15 12:30:37 PST 2006
Pete, fascinating idea. An online "clearinghouse" connecting
interested students with online courses/instructors who accept
enrollment around the world would be amazing. Great way to leverage
the work of pioneering online courses/instructors.
Perhaps one could also create an automated matching service as part of
the system, where students registering on the site would be
automatically notified of newly added courses to look into based on
their specified interests (e.g., keywords or tags).
I'm looking forward to hearing what other educators think of this concept.
On 3/15/06, Pete Border <border at mail.physics.umn.edu> wrote:
> Hi folks:
> I've been thinking about online courses and have a few ideas I'd like to
> get peoples opinions on, if you dont mind. The SL community is the only
> group of educators I know who really do "get" the idea of online ed, so
> that's why I'm emailing this group, though this has very little to do
> with SL per se.
> I'm in the midst of preparing an online version of Physics 1101,
> algebra-based physics for University Freshmen, for the University of
> Minnesota (the tough part is doing an online version of the labs). My
> version of this course involves a lot of student-group-work and chat
> meetings. Students work together, we meet weekly, they see each others
> lab work, etc., etc.- online can be very lonely and you have to do
> whatever you can to increase the community feeling. SL works really well
> as a chatspace for such things, it's a vast improvement over the "voices
> in the dark" of the standard webct chat.
> Phys 1101, or something very close to it, is offered at almost every
> college and university in the country, if not the world. The course is
> basically a standard and the content has been pretty much frozen for
> decades, though the teaching methods are beginning to change a little
> bit. In other words, 1101 is pretty much a commodity and can be taken
> pretty much anywhere in the country with entirely equivalent results.
> An online version has some interesting implications, as both the
> students and the teachers can be anywhere and the course can still work.
> I really don't care if my course comes out of servers in California, or
> Switzerland for that matter. Nor do my students care much either- they
> can log in to California as easily as they can to Minneapolis and it
> just doesnt make any difference (leaving out time zones for meetings;
> which will be held in SL, of course!).
> From my point of view, this is great! If the U decides not to offer my
> course, or not to pay me much for it, I can just hit up the web and find
> some other online institution. Once the course prep is finished, running
> another instance is the same amount of work no matter where the server
> is, so I am motivated to take my course wherever I get the most benefit
> from it (whether $$, prestige, or fun).
> From the students point of view, this is also great! They are no longer
> limited to the same boooooring old profs at their home institution and
> can take the online version wherever is best for them. Since the course
> is a commodity (and trust me, it is), all the locations are the same and
> credit will transfer if theres any justice in the world. So students can
> be out to maximize their benefit, whether it means minimizing cost or
> maximum learning.
> So what the online world needs is a market. Call it "eBay University",
> where students and courses/instructors can meet up and see what each
> other has to offer. You could imagine one student who is out to minimize
> expense, and has no problem with a machine-graded course with an
> "enrollment" of 300 (hey, thats what the U has to offer now). Or another
> student who needs lots of individual help and can afford to pay for it.
> Or anything in between. EBay U will lat them find each other and
> negotiate a contract.
> Naturally there would have to be some way to compare effectiveness,
> which means a standardized, effective, worthwhile testing service. Speak
> to me not of multiple-choice! Computers have come a long way since the
> IBM punch-card, and it amazes me that so many exams are still
> fundamentally based on that ancient technology. How many jobs involve
> multiple-choice tests- besides game shows that is? I mean some sort of
> "deep-learning assessment" sort of thing.
> Once eBay U is in place, and there's a decent testing service, there's
> one question more: why keep the Universities around at all? If all they
> do is endorse classes, run servers, manage schedules and keep up
> standards, I suppose they do still have a (minimal) role to play. But
> once faculty and students realize just how mobile they can be, the
> leverage the Universities have is extremely reduced....
> have fun!
> Pete Border
Community and Education Manager, Linden Lab
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