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Dr. G., you probably know more about MOOCs than anyone else in this forum - your thoughts?

"Being a Professor Will No Longer Be a Viable Career."



The academic freedom of professors is under siege, Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors said during his opening remarks for that organization's annual meeting in Washington D.C. yesterday. Universities are threatening to hijack the intellectual property rights of faculty members over their course material, he argued, and the consequences of that could be extreme.

“If we lose this battle for intellectual property,” Nelson said, “it's over. Being a professor will no longer be a viable career. It will be a service industry. That's it.”

Nelson said that the advent of massive online open courses – commonly referred to as MOOCs – offer the potential for tremendous disruption not just in terms of jobs and educational options for students, but professors' control over their course content.

(History News Network)
 

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Dr. G., you probably know more about MOOCs than anyone else in this forum - your thoughts?

"Being a Professor Will No Longer Be a Viable Career."






(History News Network)
I offered to create a "course on demand" and a MOOC here at Memorial. To date, no one has taken me up on my offer. Such is Life.

However, what makes my for-credit online courses "click" are the interactions I have with students. So, they may take my online text and give it to someone else, but that will not make my courses "click" with students. I designed my courses so that not everyone could just take it from me and do the course. They are VERY labor intensive, which is why most sessionals, when given the opportunity to take one of my courses over from me, refuse due to the amount of time it would take to do it well.

Luckily, while the copyright for my online text is shared with MUN, my online content within the Desire to Learn system is mine alone. That is what makes or breaks my online courses. Grading is based on the quality of one's postings, rather than a summative evaluation grade on a multiple choice test.

Marc*Glassman - Memorial University of Newfoundland - RateMyProfessors.com
 

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This is the democratization of education and will make university education cheaper and more accessible for millions. If the professor in question wants to quit because it is no longer lucrative for him to author a textbook that his students are forced to buy, let him stop writing them.
 

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My parents have been in the vanguard of the distance education field since the 1960's, and consequently, I've been immersed in distance ed, on-line education, 'mixed mode instruction, and all the other variations on this theme that have come and gone, and I've thought about it a lot.

Fundamentally, I don't think there's any argument that education is changing, and the role of a professor is changing. With any luck, the large classroom-based instruction format will go extinct; there's certainly no advantage to sitting in a lecture hall with hundreds of other students listening to some guy quacking away at the front of the room and scratching on the chalk board, vs watching a good video tape of a lecture (like a TED talk). That is not to say that there's no advantage to face-to-face instruction, but it derives from student engagement and interaction.

As these MOOCs, podcasts, OpenLearning, eInstruction, etc. etc. etc. resources become more and more available and the instructional design improves, there will certainly be opportunities for anyone to access the best lectures by the best lecturers at any time from anywhere for free. Understanding why this is not a catastrophe (indeed, I think it's a good thing) requires three things: firstly recognizing that only the most trivial subject matter can be taught in that didactic 'lecture' style; the increasing availability of such resources frees universities to go back to what they're actually good at - individualized instruction and mentoring. Secondly, while the internet can provide essentially limitless excellent resources for independent learners, it does not provide evaluation, critical feedback, or accreditation. So if you want to be self-taught, good for you... there's now more and better resources for you to use to teach yourself almost any topic. But if you want or need any help learning more advanced subject matter, and if you want a degree that documents your achievement, you're going to need to engage some instructional and subject-matter experts at some point along the way. Finally, in fields like the performing arts, engineering and the natural sciences, expertise is often not strictly theoretical; you need to learn to actually do physical things and that requires practise with corrective feedback... i.e. labs or performance courses.

What I expect to see is the disappearance of the "Intro" course; the course with hundreds of anonymous students in a lecture hall is going to go extinct. And not a moment too soon in my opinion. In its place, universities will offer tutorials and workshops where students who have watched the videos, read the books, or otherwise consumed the content aspects of the course on line, will engage with the content by doing problems, discussing in small groups, performing skills they've learned, doing labs, etc. under the supervision and evaluation of instructors who will provide corrective feedback and accreditation of their progress through the curriculum.

Since we won't have to be wasting so much time lecturing, university professors can be providing much better instruction by developing and evaluating problem-based learning exercises and mentoring individual students. Students who don't need this individual help with a given topic will be able to progress through it more rapidly, rather than having to plod along at the speed the professor feels is appropriate for the class (but which is too fast for some, and excruciatingly boring for others), and then go to their professors for help when they run into their own individual limits. Students that have trouble with certain topics won't feel intimidated about spending time with their professors clarifying, as that's what the professors will be doing (rather than breezing in, pontificating behind a lectern, and breezing out with some vague comments about office hours).

So yes, change is (finally) upon us, but no, it's not the end of the professor as a career.

{also, I should point out that undergraduate instruction is only about 1/3 of a university professor's job; research, training of graduate students, and other scholarly activities generally consume the majority of a professor's time}.
 

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That's taking Vanity Publishing a little to far, and in the wrong direction as well. ;)
 

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This is the democratization of education and will make university education cheaper and more accessible for millions. If the professor in question wants to quit because it is no longer lucrative for him to author a textbook that his students are forced to buy, let him stop writing them.
That was always something I refused to do, Macfury. Since I had big enrollments, year after year after year, I had publishers coming to me wanting me to author a book for them to publish, for my students to buy and for me to receive royalties. Of course, I had to agree to change the book every four years so that older textbooks could not be used. I refused in that I could not see myself profiting from a book I demanded my students to buy. Nor did I see the point to change a book every four years for no real reason. So, my online text is free for my students to use in the course, and to print off if they want to use it after the course.
 

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"Since we won't have to be wasting so much time lecturing, university professors can be providing much better instruction by developing and evaluating problem-based learning exercises and mentoring individual students. Students who don't need this individual help with a given topic will be able to progress through it more rapidly, rather than having to plod along at the speed the professor feels is appropriate for the class (but which is too fast for some, and excruciatingly boring for others), and then go to their professors for help when they run into their own individual limits. Students that have trouble with certain topics won't feel intimidated about spending time with their professors clarifying, as that's what the professors will be doing (rather than breezing in, pontificating behind a lectern, and breezing out with some vague comments about office hours).

So yes, change is (finally) upon us, but no, it's not the end of the professor as a career."

I fully agree, bryanc. Paix, mon ami.
 

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That was always something I refused to do, Macfury. Since I had big enrollments, year after year after year, I had publishers coming to me wanting me to author a book for them to publish, for my students to buy and for me to receive royalties. Of course, I had to agree to change the book every four years so that older textbooks could not be used. I refused in that I could not see myself profiting from a book I demanded my students to buy. Nor did I see the point to change a book every four years for no real reason. So, my online text is free for my students to use in the course, and to print off if they want to use it after the course.
Very commendable, Dr. G!
 

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Very commendable, Dr. G!
My students think so as well. Also, not having to write a textbook leaves me more time to teach, which I enjoy. I also only make them purchase a traditional textbook that costs under $100, which is very difficult these days. Or, I find a book that has an e-version which can be "rented" for 6 months. The e-version is usually 75% off of the hard cover version.
 

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I've always thought the idea of textbooks was rather absurd. What we need is a more authoritative Wikipedia; something like Wikipedia, but not editable by anyone... only people who've got some demonstrated expertise (Stanford is already doing this with respect to some subject matter here). Such a resource would make essentially all textbooks obsolete.
 

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I've always thought the idea of textbooks was rather absurd. What we need is a more authoritative Wikipedia; something like Wikipedia, but not editable by anyone... only people who've got some demonstrated expertise. Such a resource would make essentially all textbooks obsolete.
I don't use the traditional theory-based textbooks, but rather, try to find those that have suggestions for actual praxis-based classroom ideas and assessment strategies.
 

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My economics prof let us know that forcing us to buy his textbook was a fantastic money maker for him.
 

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My economics prof let us know that forcing us to buy his textbook was a fantastic money maker for him.
:mad::ptptptptp:mad:

Some of our profs force students to buy their online textbook for the cost of printing/shipping and a small royalty payment for the prof. I prefer to let my students look at it online and to print off the parts, if any, they want to keep. I am already getting paid to teach the course, so no need to double dip.
 

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:mad::ptptptptp:mad:

Some of our profs force students to buy their online textbook for the cost of printing/shipping and a small royalty payment for the prof. I prefer to let my students look at it online and to print off the parts, if any, they want to keep. I am already getting paid to teach the course, so no need to double dip.
:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

I applaud you.
 

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:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

I applaud you.
Merci. I was a poor student once, and never forgot having to pay money for books rather than for food.
 
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