Students are not paper bins


I was reading Chinese educator and reformer Tao Xingzhi‘s book yesterday and couldn’t stop laughing when reading this passage : ‘One type of teacher does it this way: he/She sees students as paper bins. First this teacher memorises the book and then he/she throws the content of the book to the students as paper bins.’

This does not strike me as something foreign in both physical classrooms and MOOC classrooms. It is even more obvious in a MOOC environment. Due to MOOC’s limits in real-time interaction, most MOOC lecturers prepare notes, read out key messages in the video and call it a class.

Therefore even the best quality content is discounted a great deal as the lecturer is not able to customise the content, modify the teaching pace by taking into account students’ background and instant reaction/feedback.

I am definitely not the only one who is aware of such handicap of MOOCs. A lot of people are seeing the issue and experimenting with solutions. For example, Udacity has constant quiz to gather students feedback; Coursera offers learning centre for students to take MOOC courses together; FutureLearn encourages peer learning and peer reviewing; NovoEd launches mentoring system on top of its small group collaboration function.

How can we change students’ fate being the paper bin in MOOCs? I am waiting to see a success strategy.


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