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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Pedagogy First, Technology Later
21 January 2000 7:00 pm
Faculty members can get their hackles up when they see administrators trying to force online instruction into the curriculum. At the University of Washington, Seattle, 2 years ago, 900 professors signed a protest letter to the governor (Science, 26 June 1998, p. 2019). At York University in Toronto, Canada, at about the same time, they struck for 2 months. Taking a gentler approach, University of Illinois (UI) faculty members held a seminar.
After a year of talk amongst themselves and with outside experts, 16 professors from the three UI campuses issued a report last week offering recommendations and precautions for universities thinking to add online classes. Although the committee came to no classroom-shattering conclusions, they do give some commonsense advice. Paramount, says chemical engineer John Regalbuto, the seminar's chair, is to have good teachers involved in the development of online instruction every step of the way. "We don't want technology to get ahead of pedagogy," he says.
The seminar participants warn that get-rich-quick schemes for Internet teaching are doomed to fail. Effective online teaching requires a lot of technical support and instructor time spent interacting with students one on one, they say. The most successful online teaching programs, Regalbuto points out, are those in which students pay extra to take a course with flexible hours, such as full-time workers taking graduate business classes. But historian David Noble of York University warns that online courses are bound to be low-quality scams--digital diploma mills. Distance learning is not about education, he says: "It's about money." The profit motive drives private firms to produce online teaching materials and universities to buy them; for a school to make money on the deal, he argues, it has to ignore the kinds of recommendations that the Illinois group makes.