SOBA: How are MOOCs Changing Science Education? > December 10 2012 > 4PM - 5:30 PM ET

Steven E. Patamia, Ph.D. patamia at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 4 14:52:24 EST 2012


I actually took that headline-making Stanford course on artificial
intelligence.  I did it partly for the content and mostly to see how it was
done.  It was a massive undertaking with some rough edges and there is much
to say about it both positive and negative.

What I wanted to jump in and say to this audience is that this kind of
education delivery is certainly not for everyone or every situation.  It is
a taste of things to come at this stage primarily as a proof of concept
demonstration.  I chose to participate in it at a time when I did knew I
would not genuinely and reliably have the time to fully immerse myself in
it.  I was nevertheless able to periodically devote enough time to get
perfect scores on many assignments and high, but not perfect, scores on
some of the exams.  It was, overall, like a giant take-home exam spread
over the whole term.

Among those with enough available time, there was an enormous amount of
collaboration. Collaboration is good, but not all participants had equal
opportunity to indulge.  While I did not directly participate in any
collaboraions, I peeked in on the two forums set up for it to see how it
was done and even went back a few time to see if anyone else had noticed
errors in the presentations, assignments or tests which I did (usually they
did).  It was clear to me, however, that those forums revealed the presence
of some students with lots of time on their hands and strong backgrounds.
 Those advantages were amplified by the availability of lots of people to
have discussions with provided one had the time to really do that, of
course.  My recollection at the moment is that the percentage of students
active in the collaborations was quite small ... maybe a few percent.
Perhaps Gerry knows or can find out.

Here is one of several possible punch lines:

I have been a graduate student and taught at the undergraduate level in a
university.  A student immersed in a full class load in a major university
is very unlikely to have the kind of time it takes to achieve a perfect
performance in this kind of course presentation.  Out of 160,000
participants there are bound to be some very intelligent people who are
also obsessive enough to achieve that goal and also have enough available
time to achieve it.  So what?  It is what it is, but the observation that
the top performers were not even enrolled at Stanford is not a measure of
anything useful or new in this case.

I now find myself with very little time again, but I could not pass up
contributing this particular observation.  I wish I had time to go over
more in detail as I think there are useful things to notice about all this.


On Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 10:14 AM, McKiernan, Gerard [LIB] <
gerrymck at> wrote:

>  *** Spoiler Alert > Possible Duplicate Posting ***
>  Colleagues/
>  Free Streamed Event
>  /Gerry
>  Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun's Introduction to Artificial
> Intelligence made headlines from the New York Times to the Huffington Post
> for having 160,000 students sign up, but did you know that none of the 248
> students getting a perfect grade were actually enrolled at Stanford?
> Clearly, the role of the classroom in higher education is changing and
> Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are leading the way. How will
> extending high-quality science education to more people change how research
> is done? Will MOOCs less to more factual discussions of controversial
> scientific topics like climate change and genetically modified organisms?
> Will the "flipped classroom" enable schools to get the spiraling cost of
> higher education under control and train more scientists? Join Relly
> Brandman, Keith E. Grant, and Kristin Sainani  for a discussion of these
> questions and more at this month's SOBA.
>  Presentations are followed by a panel discussion moderated by Christian
> Simm, swissnex San Francisco's Executive Director. The audience Q&A will be
> followed by a conversation at a nearby bar (to be announced at the event).
> During the discussion portion of the evening, we’ll probe the challenges
> and opportunities of MOOCs. Bring your questions!
>  *Presentations and discussion livestreamed. Follow the event on Twitter
> (@sciobayarea and #sobay), and like SOBA on Facebook.
>  Date: December 10th, 2012
> Time: 7:00pm - 8:30pm PT
> Location: swissnex San Francisco, 730 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA
> 94111
>  Source and Speaker Profiles and Registration and Streaming Links
> Available At
>  Gerry McKiernan
> Associate Professor
> and
> Science and Technology Librarian
> Iowa State University
> 152 Parks Library
> Ames IA 50011
>    ============================
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> 2012-12-04

Steven E. Patamia, Ph.D., J.D.
Personal Cell: (352) 219-6592


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