MOOCs, Books and Friends

reading togetherHave you ever taken an online course?  I am willing to try one someday.  But I worry that it would be a lonely expereince. I like being around people to inspire me, to help me refine my ideas, and to offer counter arguments and reality checks.  When Thomas Friedman wrote about exciting new initiatives to bring higher education around the world through massive open online courses (MOOCs) in an article in Sunday’s NYTimes, I wondered if these courses are better than free libraries that offer the same knowledge in a cloth binding.

One of my favorite education writers, Alfie Cohen says in his book The Schools our Children Deserve, “Any number of theorists have argued that learning at its root is a social rather than solitary act. Some have even suggested that the very idea of intelligence is best applied to what goes on among people rather than what happens in each person’s head.”  That is why it is so important to develop classroom cultures where children work to help each other learn.  For us, the fundamental dynamic is support of one another, not competition.  There is such overwhelming evidence that teachers who coerce students are the least successful.

Its nice to work among people who inspire me to understand how, when and why the best kind of learning happens.  We had a wonderful faculty meeting this afternoon. Thank you, Evergreen teachers.

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