Online Learning: Using Discussion Boards

Discussion Boards can be a useful way to simulate classroom discussion, to elicit opinions and analysis, to have students build upon each other’s ideas, or to create or extend a sense of classroom community.   Whether you use a Learning Management System or social media as your platform, preparing the conversations can enhance the quality of the discussion.  Creating the assignment might include thinking about Before the discussion, Setting up a discussion, During the discussion, and After the discussion

Continue reading “Online Learning: Using Discussion Boards”

How does the Mobile Student study?

In an update to my 2012 survey, at the University of Novi Sad last week I offered the results of an informal follow-up.  In short, university students are studying – reading and writing – on their tablets and phones than ever before.  And in addition to a greater number of students doing their written work on their phones and tablets, they are doing so more frequently.

More on this in upcoming posts.


Law School Externships and Online Learning

While many universities have started to offer online-only or hybrid (much online; some on-site) degree programs, law schools have been slower.  Some of this is chicken-and-egg – the American Bar Association has not offered accreditation to any online-only programs and has seemed reluctant to do so.  In late 2013, it did agree to a 2015 pilot program with the ABA-accredited William Mitchell College of Law, to offer a hybrid program combining online and on-site education.

The National Law Journal reported that the ABA last week rejected a call to ease its ban on paid externships for law students – that is, what you know as “paid internships” in which the student receives both pay-for-work and academic credit. Law students who might go to Washington or New York for the summer, or who want to work in their field during the fall or spring semester, will be affected.  Critics charge that this most affects students who can not spend a summer working “for free” on Capitol Hill or elsewhere, or who must work during the school year and can not earn academic credit for that work, as their unpaid classmates can.

NLJ reported that removing the ban had been supported by the ABA’s Law Student Division but opposed by the Society of American Law Teachers and the Clinical Legal Education Association.

As law schools move toward online learning, this may affect many more students.  The importance of externships – both for education and for resume-building – could be especially critical for online-learning/distance-education students.  The ABA ban retains an important hurdle for future law students who will seek to combine valuable legal training and experience during the day while studying online at night.


What’s up with MOOCs?

Online learning at American University and elsewhere tries to replicate the small-class experience of classroom-based courses: intense student-faculty interaction, student-to-student learning, and a community for discussion.  But in other places, the focus in the last couple of years has been on MOOCs – massive open online courses:  thousands of students, open admissions, no tuition, and no academic credit.  Here’s some recent MOOC news.

Study Finds MOOC Reality Not Yet Meeting High Expectations

Columbia University researchers conclude that from the educational and the business perspectives, MOOCs stll have a long way to go before they are fundamentally change the cores of higher education.  A summary and the entire report.

Another report concluded that so far MOOCs are “more like health clubs than hospitals” – a summary and the report.

In Defense of Teacher Learning

A blog from the global business school INSEAD notes the importance, but lack of discussion, of instructors reconsidering their courses when preparing them as MOOCs.  The new platform forces teachers to reconsider content choices, assignments, and assessments in ways that spill over into reconsidering their classroom-based courses.

Andrew Ng joins China’s Baidu

A Coursera co-founder, with roots at Google and Stanford will become chief scientist at Baidu, the Chinese Internet company with $1.5 in 2014 Q1 revenue.

MOOCs Go Global

From Jordan, Queen Raina’s Foundation for Education and Development will work to increase the number of Arabic MOOCs available for the benefit of Arabic students and scholars with a partnership with edX, called Edraak.  MOOCs are also being offered from Asia and elsewhere.

MOOCs – Not Just for Universities

Forbes notes that while MOOCs pose challenges and opportunities for universities, businesses like SAP and Sky News are also using the ideas that shape MOOCs for their own business purposes.

MOOCs on Everything – Including, Now, SABRmetrics

“An introduction to sabrmetrics, baseball analytics, data science, the R language, and SQL.”  From Boston University via edX.  Begins next week….