Online Learning: A Case Study

It’s not even remotely like a real class. In no way did the rudimentary quizzes and forum discussions substitute for having to write papers, participate in class discussions or sections, swap information and notes with fellow students, talk with profs and / or TAs — all of the things that amount to supplying concrete proof, to teachers and to yourself, that you’ve learned something specific from your studies.

Maria Bustillos took a seven-week MOOC AKA Massive Open Online Courses AKA the thing some colleges are considering implementing for credit to address shrinking state budgets. She took a course by Andrew Szegedy-Maszak (“Professor Andy”), a highly respected and well-liked educator (“listening to the voice of Andrew Szegedy-Maszak is exactly like soaking in a huge stone bath scented with rose petals while being fed grapes and gently serenaded by a distant lute”). The result: The MOOC was like watching a really engaging documentary and walking away a much more informed person, but it couldn’t compare with taking Professor Andy’s class in-person and benefitting from the critical thinking gained from discussion sessions. Plus, as Maria explains, the experience is much different for someone who has already completed college (“it’s relatively easy to learn about complicated subjects, online or off, if you already have the discipline and research skills to follow through, abilities that educated adults already possess”).

Photo: UNE Photos



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