MOOCs condense and fracture course material and present it in the pithiest, shallowest form. They lack improvisation, serendipity, and familiarity. They pander to the broadest possible audience because in the MOOC economy—such as it is—enrollment is currency and quality is measured by the number of people who have checked in without subtracting the number who check out.
That’s not to say that MOOCs could not improve greatly, as I trust they will. But the unfounded hyperbole surrounding MOOCs ignores the real outstanding work professors in all fields have been doing integrating digital and multimedia tools into their courses and the outstanding work being done with online courses that have reasonable, controlled enrollments.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, Cato Unbound. A New Era of Unfound Hyperbole.
By MOOCs he means the massive open online courses like those offered through Coursera, Udacity, University of the People, etc. — courses that could potentially upset the accreditation system of university education. But don’t take the above quote out of context. Vaidhyanathan doesn’t mean to write that MOOCs are bad or harmful. He writes that the excitement surrounding them may limit their scope.
cheapening reducing the cost of education, can be used to do what university courses cannot — reach students outside of the traditional academic world.
Take Clay Shirky’s post on MOOCs from last week:
MOOCs expand the audience for education to people ill-served or completely shut out from the current system, in the same way phonographs expanded the audience for symphonies to people who couldn’t get to a concert hall, and PCs expanded the users of computing power to people who didn’t work in big companies.
When I got that journalism degree back in 1974 newspapers were heading toward near-monopoly status and network news divisions thought of themselves as public trusts more than businesses. For the individual editor and reporter, the profession was a calling and finding the scoop was all that mattered. Today’s students seem to be realists. They get that journalism is a business. They understand that the who, what, when, where and why of their careers is as much about an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit as it is about the story. Industry veterans, far too many still stuck in an old mindset, would do well to spend a little time in the classroom.
It was late last year when we saw the first job posting promising a free iPod just for agreeing to come in for an interview. Even boozy informal “hacker” get-togethers were collecting multiple “sponsors,” driving the hackers to arrange social events practically in secret, to avoid being harassed by desperate would-be employers. A company called DeveloperAuction has actually begun auctioning qualified software developers to the highest bidder.
David Wood, Forbes. An Insider’s View Of Silicon Alley’s Talent Feeding Frenzy.
Silicon Alley, New York City’s version of that other place out in California, has its perks. Woods, CTO of Jun Group, writes that it’s a very good time to be a talented, temporarily unemployed developer in New York. But that was a bit of a given, wasn’t it? Anyway, the numbers are surprising.
More from Wood:
This has been particularly pronounced in New York, where entrepreneurs, enticed by free-flowing VC money and local successes like Tumblr and OMGPOP, have started 500 new technology companies in five years, creating a 29 percent jump in technology-related jobs. To put that number in perspective, it’s eight times the growth rate of the city’s total employment.
Imagine if your whole life you’ve looked through one eye, only seeing through one eye and suddenly, scientists can give you the ability to open up a second eye. So what you would see is not just more data but it’s a whole different way of seeing.
Said photojournalist Rick Smolan today, telling the audience at a Human Face of Big Data event the same thing he told his son when, at 2am, the little boy climbed out of bed, snuck into the kitchen and asked him why he stayed up late everynight on the phone talking about “big data.” Smolan continued:
My son, who again wanted to stay up as late as he could before I sent him back to bed, said: could scientists and computers, like, let us open up a third eye and a fourth and a fifth? And I said yes.
See the group’s phone app, its upcoming book and more here.
But editors and professors recognize that the best way to understand the future of journalism lies in learning from and working with students.
And so, Mercer University is starting a $5.6 million project to collaborate with the Macon Newspaper and Georgia Public Radio.
via The New York Times:
Reporters and editors for the 186-year-old paper The Telegraph and the radio station will work out of the campus’s new journalism center, alongside students whom the university expects will do legwork for newspaper and public radio reports, with guidance from their professors and working journalists.
It’s a plan born in part of desperation. Like many newspapers, The Telegraph has lost circulation and advertising revenue in the last decade, and the public radio station was forced to trim down to one staff member during the recession.
William D. Underwood, Mercer’s president, expects that by applying what he calls a medical residency model to journalism, all of these players may give the struggling industry a chance to stay alive.
Bonus: This report [PDF] from the New America Foundation entitled “Shaping 21st Century Journalism: Leveraging a ‘Teaching Hospital Model’ in Journalism Education”