Last week, I had cheese and crackers with Chris Teplovs from University of Toronto.  He claimed he could create some elves to help grade my lab reports for me and give the students a chance for feedback on their work before they finalize it.  We shall see what his elves can do.  They might be able to allow students to have feedback on their writing before they submit their lab reports?  Using a combination of network analysis, automated content analysis, and new media technology, we shall see what these little elves can do. I am sure this is the type of technology that the folks developing the MOOC would love.


One of my students is taking a MOOC.  She had some interesting thoughts to share on the topic.  It does open some interesting doors for high performing students.  It can also open doors for non–traditional students, such as older students balancing a family life.

However, there were some interesting articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education last weekly that were highly critical of the MOOC fad.

“Low-cost online courses could allow a more-diverse group of students to try college, but a new study suggests that such courses could also widen achievement gaps among students in different demographic groups…They found that students in demographic groups whose members typically struggle in traditional classrooms are finding their troubles exacerbated in online courses. The study found that all students who take more online courses, no matter the demographic, are less likely to attain a degree.”

On a similar issue, another interesting NY Times article last week was about Sugata Mitra who gave a recent TED talk.

“We need teachers to do different things. The teacher has to ask the question, and tell the children what they have learned. She comes in at the two ends, a cap at the end and a starter at the beginning.  Teachers are not supposed to be repositories of information which they dish out. That is from an age when there were no other repositories of information, other than books or teachers, neither of which were portable. A lot of my big task is retraining these teachers. Now they have to watch as children learn.”