Dan Butin gets provocative on MITx in elearn.  He likes it but argues,

“…there is a problem. A fundamental problem. MITx, and all such similar initiatives, are still delivering a Learning 1.0 product in a Web 2.0 world. They have replicated all of the problems of the traditional industrial-age model of lecture-based teaching and testing that has minimal linkage to student outcomes.”

Agree?  Disagree?

4 Replies to “MITx”

  1. He’s not only wrong about lecture (though he is):

    He’s also wrong about “structuring” instruction:

    (Although arguably you have more room to move away from lecture/guidance at more advanced levels of education.)

    It’s also a little distressing to see a dean of a school of education talking about “learning styles”.

  2. Nice to see Butin quoting Bateson and Mezirow. And yes, negative points for learning style. He’s correct though to argue that no MOOC can accommodate metacognitive insights or guide students through developmental challenges. And he could have made an even more compelling case for a living person as a teacher as a student struggles with a concept. All too often a stuck student is a student who does not know why she is stuck and cannot find out how to get unstuck. That is where Butin’s dialogic argument makes a lot more sense for me. And that is why MOOCs will not be any kind of panacea for any kind of learning except very routinized, procedural tasks for which the student is already capable.

    Nice links Paul, thanks.

  3. Wow, Andy has some tough readers…

    First, thanks for reading the piece. That is appreciated in and of itself.

    Second, this was an op-ed. “Learning styles” was used as a heuristic, and, yes, I am well aware that there is no such thing as a pure learning style. But it is completely feasible to talk about potential differences in one’s preferences versus general abilities versus specific abilities versus etc.
    see here, for example:

    Finally, I find the Clark et al. research unpersuasive. The “guided instruction” versus “discovery learning” debate is riddled with partisan battles (and methodological flaws) that ignore the reality that good teaching is multifaceted bricolage.

  4. If the idea is that the whole project is undermined by the fact that the “debate is riddled with partisan battles (and methodological flaws)”, doesn’t that cut both ways? If we’re going to dismiss Clark et al on those grounds, what’s the justification for your claims of a clear lecture/structure research consensus in your piece?

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