A little (academic) dream come true

About a month ago I wrote the post What if we change the role of “teachers as educators” to “teachers as incubators”? that encourages the use of systematic and reputable video tutorials by teachers. Well, edX is one step ahead of the game, by offering not only complete courses, but also certificates that are predicted to be accepted by colleges within the coming year.

Traditional online courses charge tuition, carry credit and limit enrollment to a few dozen to ensure interaction with instructors. The MOOCs (massive open online courses), on the other hand, offered by edX are free, credit-less and, well, massive.


Today is the day where I pick my classes for next semester. As a senior entering my second semester, I would love to take a class on computer science. Here’s the problem. In my second semester, the intro class is not offered, and the rest of the classes have prerequisites, so I am at a loss. Or am I?


“We reject about 98 percent of faculty who want to teach with us. Just because a person is the world’s most famous economist doesn’t mean they are the best person to teach the subject.” Dr. Stavens sees a day when MOOCs will disrupt how faculty are attracted, trained and paid, with the most popular “compensated like a TV actor or a movie actor.” He adds that “students will want to learn from whoever is the best teacher.”

“We desperately need crowdsourcing,” says Cathy N. Davidson, a Duke professor of English and interdisciplinary studies. “We need a MOOCE — massive open online course evaluation.”

Join the movement.


The DOE Encourages Cheating

One of the ongoing trends in the news has been the rise of cheating in America’s prestigious schools.  My old high school, Stuyvesant, and even universities, like Harvard, have been plagued by this new phenomenon that has left many people perplexed.  A lot of explanations were offered as to why a Stuyvesant student decided to send a mass text to seventy-one other students on a state issued Regents exam. “This self-admitted cheater lacks both honesty and any moral compass. And no, it’s not the fault of the schools or the teachers, but clearly his family has failed to teach him the basics of right and wrong,” responded Mugsy66 on a New Yorker article. Meanwhile, the newly appointed principal, post-scandal, of Stuyvesant High School told reporters “I have not been made aware … or have a reason to believe that there is ongoing cheating there.”  Well, newsflash – everybody cheats at Stuyvesant High School, and we’re not the only school with cheaters. If you’re my age, you won’t be surprised to learn that 75-98% of college students surveyed each year have admitted to cheating in high school.

If you are of the older generation and are perplexed by such high percentages, it is because times are changing – only 20% of college students admitted to cheating in high school during the 1940s. The reason being is not poor parenting or a shrinkage of the temporo- Continue reading

What if we change the role of “teachers as educators” to “teachers as incubators”?

The Khan Academy, started in 2006, currently has at least 3400 tutorial videos on the subjects of Math, Science, Computer Science, Finance, Economics, Humanities and Test Prep (SAT, GMAT etc.). Subjects are taught in depth – lessons on polynomials alone span through 79 videos; matrices, 33. As classes are rapidly translated to video tutorials available online, should the role of the teacher begin to change? Years ago in high school, I sought the help of random Youtube videos when I was learning trigonometry. My teacher spoke with a heavy dialect and I received little from being in class. I would’ve benefited a lot from comprehensive tutorial videos from a respectable source such as the Khan Academy, which had only just begun then. Now they’re legitimate tutorials coming in from respectable sources everywhere: University of Michigan, Berkley, Chicago, and business schools of Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, UPenn, and NYU are just some examples of colleges getting in on this. Then there are sources that range from the likes of Khan Academy, Freelance Teacher, to TED talks. Not only is every popular subject covered, but also the quality of teaching is top-notch, clear and reliable.

This sudden shift of knowledge to be made easily accessible online could perhaps change the role of the teacher. Not replace, but change. The teacher-student and student-student connection is without a doubt very important to learning and irreplaceable. So as video lectures inevitably grow popular, teachers need to emphasize being an incubator more than ever – to have students synthesize ideas and projects from data, as well as to motivate students to learn.