Learning How to Teach Ry Rivard

Learning How to Teach
March 5, 2013 - 3:00am
Ry Rivard
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Amid the various influences that massive open online courses have had
on higher education in their short life so far -- the topic of a daylong conference here Monday -this may be among the more unexpected: The courses may be prompting some faculty to pay
more attention to their teaching styles than they ever have before.
The conference, organized Monday in Cambridge by Harvard University and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, featured academics and administrators from elite North American
universities and other players in the world of MOOCs discussing the rise of online courses and
the future of residential colleges and universities.
The new attention to teaching methods and learning sciences is coming from two directions:
faculty who want to make sure their teaching is up to snuff for a wider audience, and technology
that allows new levels of interaction with students, and new understanding of students' strengths
and weaknesses.
Harvard Provost Alan Garber said the free online courses can invite comparisons of faculty and
course shopping by students. That, along with their scale -- tens of thousands of students will
sign up for a course, versus only scores for a large traditional class -- means MOOC instructors
now “are working at an entirely different level.”
“Our faculty are extraordinarily successful,” Garber said. “They are used to winning. And they
don’t want to lose this game.”
The head of edX, a major MOOC provider founded less than a year ago by Harvard and MIT,
said that faculty members looking to adapt their classes to the Web are able to take advantage
of technology that didn’t exist before, like instantaneously computer-graded tests. He said
research has shown instant feedback improves outcomes.
EdX President Anant Agarwal said there is certain learning sciences research that many faculty,
including himself, had long ignored as they focused on their own disciplinary fields.
“To me, these papers should be must-reads,” he said, citing specifically a 1972 study of
Agarwal said that paper was among the research about learning he had not read until recently.
He said he thought other faculty were generally unfamiliar with such research.
"If we followed it, it was completely by accident," he said.
From www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/05/moocs-prompt-some-faculty-members-refreshteaching-styles
5 March 2013
The day of discussion wandered across several key topics, including whether MOOCs can
control costs and whether they fundamentally undermine traditional higher education.
Panelists found few conclusive answers to key questions about the future of the residential
college, which remains the popular vision of college even though it is no longer how many
students receive postsecondary education.
Reporters were invited to the conference, but most of the proceedings, which included remarks
by the president of MIT and the MOOC enthusiast New York Times columnist Thomas
Friedman, could not be directly quoted according to agreed-to ground rules, though professors
were free to talk to the press and top officials were made available for comment at the end of
the day.
From www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/05/moocs-prompt-some-faculty-members-refreshteaching-styles
5 March 2013
March 4, 2013
Online Education May Make Top Colleges More Elite,
Speakers Say
By Steve Kolowich
Cambridge, Mass.
Online education may have arrived at the upper echelons of higher education, but it's not going
to make elite colleges any cheaper to attend.
Massive open online courses and other online tools, however, may change many aspects of top
undergraduate campuses. That was the conclusion of a private summit, held here on Monday and
sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, at which many
of online education's heaviest hitters discussed the future of residential higher education,
particularly at elite institutions, in a digital age.
After years of standing by while the online wave gathered momentum at lower-tier institutions,
MIT and Harvard last year gave online education a $60-million bear hug by collaborating to
found edX, a nonprofit MOOC provider that could also serve as a laboratory for studying the
dynamics of virtual classrooms.
The universities made it clear then that they intended to use their MOOCs to improve, not
supplant, traditional courses.
Monday's daylong conference, which was largely off the record except when permission was
granted, featured many of the voices commonly associated with the current upheaval in higher
education. They included Clayton M. Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor, who
gave a crash course in his influential theory of "disruptive innovation"; and Salman Khan, the
founder of Khan Academy, an online-lecture repository, who appeared, Oz-like, as a 12-foot-tall
talking head projected on the wall above the stage.
Online tools that track how much students use certain course materials could give professors
insight into how they should design their traditional courses, several panelists said.
Professors might be surprised by what the data tell them. Eric Mazur, a professor of physics at
Harvard, drew murmurs from the crowd—which mostly consisted of Harvard and MIT faculty
members—when he showed research indicating that students at a lecture have brain activity
roughly equivalent to when they watch television.
Eric S. Rabkin, a professor of English at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, suggested
that professors could direct students to learn the most basic material in a course at their own
5 March 2013
From www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/05/moocs-prompt-some-faculty-members-refresh-teaching-styles
pace, via online modules. Professors could then use the time saved, he said, on the parts of the
course that require more thoughtful, individual attention, such as giving feedback on long essays.
"Maybe we could have 100 people register for a seminar," Mr. Rabkin said. The students could
work through the first 12 weeks independently and online, "and that teacher can finish the
seminar five different times in the course of a 15-week semester, spending the last three weeks
with each of those groups of 20."
Getting Their Money's Worth
Some attempts to use MOOCs to improve the experience of traditional students have not panned
out. One panelist said early attempts at his university to foster interaction between learners in the
traditional and MOOC versions of a course met with resistance from the tuition-paying students,
who wanted a distinct experience for their money.
Those students may eventually come around, but the amount they are paying for a traditional
college experience probably will not—at least not at top colleges. None of the institutions
represented at the summit is likely to use any revenue or savings from the use of online tools to
lower tuition, said one provost. No one at the session disagreed.
It's more likely that online tools will be used to increase value at the same price, said another
provost. That means more seminars, more project-based courses, and more mentorship
opportunities, he said.
That is a privileged position. William G. Bowen, the former president of Princeton University
who has studied the efficiency of online tools, reminded the audience that they occupied "really
rarefied air" in deciding how they might want to use online education.
But professors who are serious about reaching the masses online, he said, will have to think
about innovation and design with a broader, more diverse audience in mind.
"I would humbly suggest that the kinds of assessment and standards and all the rest that I'm sure
are appropriate at MIT and Harvard and so forth," Mr. Bowen said, "have very little relevance
for the large parts of American higher education, particularly in the state systems, that are under
genuine siege."
5 March 2013
From www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/05/moocs-prompt-some-faculty-members-refresh-teaching-styles
Online Learning and the
Future of Residential Education
On March 3 and 4, 2013, MIT and Harvard University hosted Online Learning and the Future of
Residential Education, a Summit at which academic and institutional leaders convened to
exchange ideas about the future of higher education at the intersection of on-campus and online
The Summit program comprised a broad mix of speakers and panelists, and provided ample
opportunities for thoughtful engagement through multiple interactive, working sessions. The aim
was to share knowledge and perspectives across institutions, to stimulate our thinking about the
future, and to shed light on the emerging opportunities and challenges facing our colleges and
universities during this time of tremendous potential for transformation.
Participants left the Summit having learned about:
Key challenges and opportunities for merging digital, online educational experiences
with on-campus, interactive educational experiences to create a new model of residential
Best practices and lessons-learned from current online learning efforts
Major barriers to adoption that must be addressed by institutions, faculty, and students to
enable a smooth transition to new modes of learning
Critical issues to consider when assessing the new financial models that will drive higher
education in a blended online/residential world
Participants also gained:
A set of templates for understanding how one can use online methods for different
intellectual disciplines
A better understanding of how online tools can provide self-assessment capabilities
Proposals for next steps, both for individual institutions and for the higher education
community as a whole
From onlinelearningsummit.org/
5 March 2013
News about outcomes or next steps will be posted on this site.
We would like to acknowledge all contributors — the joint MIT and Harvard Summit
programming committee, speakers, staff, and attendees — for having made possible these four
highly productive and stimulating sessions. Thank you.
MIT–Harvard Program Committee
Chair: W. Eric L. Grimson, Chancellor and Bernard Gordon Professor of Medical
Engineering, MIT
Peter K. Bol, Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations,
Harvard University
Eric Klopfer, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Robert A. Lue, Director, Harvardx and Professor of the Practice of Molecular and
Cellular Biology, Harvard University
Martha L. Minow, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law and Dean, Harvard Law School
Sanjay Sarma, Director of Digital Learning and Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort
Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
Karen E. Willcox, Professor and Associate Head, Department of Aeronautics and
Astronautics, MIT
Online Learning Summit Planning Team
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 7-121
Cambridge, MA 02139
[email protected]
From onlinelearningsummit.org/
5 March 2013
Keynote Program and Overview of Summit Objectives
Radcliffe Gymnasium, Harvard University
Transport will be provided from the Marriott Hotel and MIT.
5:30–6:30 PM
Reception and Networking
6:30–9 PM
Discussion and Dinner
Sunday evening will set the stage for the full day of sessions to come. This keynote program
includes an overview of the Summit and an interactive dialogue with the speakers on how online
learning is shaping teaching, research, and the student experience both on- and off-campus.
Welcome Remarks
Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University
Opening Conversation
Moderator: Lawrence S. Bacow, President Emeritus, Tufts University and President-inResidence, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University
L. Rafael Reif, President, MIT
Gene B. Sperling, Director, National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for
Economic Policy
After dinner, attendees will have a chance to speak informally with one another about the critical
questions of greatest interest on our various campuses.
Closing Remarks
W. Eric L. Grimson, Chancellor and Bernard Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering, MIT
From onlinelearningsummit.org/program.html
5 March 2013
Interactive Sessions
The Monday portion of the Summit will comprise three topic-based dialogues framed by a
keynote address and panel discussion. Participants will be encouraged to contribute ideas,
insights, and perspectives during the panel presentations and facilitated question-and-answer
MIT Media Laboratory Complex
8–8:15 AM
Opening Remarks
L. Rafael Reif, President, MIT
W. Eric L. Grimson, Chancellor and Bernard Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering, MIT
8:15–10:15 AM
Keynote Address
William G. Bowen, President Emeritus, Princeton University; Founder, ITHAKA Group
Panel Discussion
Interactive Group Discussion
Summary of Findings
Moderator: Ian A. Waitz, Dean, MIT School of Engineering
Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics; Area Dean of Applied
Physics, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
John C. Mitchell, Vice Provost for Online Learning and Mary and Gordon Crary Family
Professor, Department of Computer Science, Stanford University
Eric S. Rabkin, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English Language and Literature;
Professor of Art and Design, University of Michigan
From onlinelearningsummit.org/program.html
5 March 2013
Philipp Schmidt, Director and Co-founder Peer 2 Peer University, Director's Fellow MIT
Media Lab
Susan R. Singer, Division Director for Undergraduate Education, National Science
Foundation; Laurence McKinley Gould Professor of the Natural Sciences, Department of
Biology, Carleton College
The purpose of this session is to discuss how online education could enhance the educational
experience for on-campus students. Potential topics: Creating new types of learning experiences
for residential students; engaging faculty members in the creation of online courses, modules,
and tools; developing suitable institutional support for academic technology; and using data and
research to deepen insights into how students learn.
10:15–10:45 AM
Break and Demonstrations
10:45 AM–12:45 PM
Session 2: Online Learning: Today and Tomorrow
Keynote Address
Salman Khan, Founder, Khan Academy
Panel Discussion
Interactive Group Discussion
Summary of Findings
Moderator: Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School and the Harvard
Kennedy School of Government; Professor of Computer Science, Harvard School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences; Co-founder, Berkman Center for Internet & Society,
Harvard University
Anant Agarwal, President, edX; Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer
Science, MIT
Stephen Hodownes, CEO, College of Continuing Education, Southern New Hampshire
Daphne Koller, Founder, Coursera; Rajeev Motwani Professor, Computer Science
Department, Stanford University
Bror Saxberg, Chief Learning Officer, Kaplan
From onlinelearningsummit.org/program.html
5 March 2013
The purpose of this session is to discuss the challenges and opportunities online technologies
may have on teaching, learning, and assessment. Potential topics: Applications of technology in
diverse academic fields, from science and technology to arts and the humanities; integrating new
technologies on and off campus; assessing student learning and outcomes in the online
environment; and perspectives on the use of technologies in different academic settings, ranging
from liberal arts colleges to research-intensive universities to community colleges.
12:45–2 PM
2–4 PM
Keynote Address
Clayton M. Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business
Panel Discussion
Interactive Group Discussion
Summary of Findings
Moderator: Martha L. Minow, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law and Dean, Harvard
Law School
George W. Breslauer, Provost, University of California, Berkeley
W. Kent Fuchs, Provost, Cornell University
Mark Kamlet, Provost, Carnegie Mellon University
Anthony C. Masi, Provost, McGill University
The purpose of this session is to discuss how institutions and their leaders can best enable
technological innovation to further their academic and research missions. Potential topics:
Balancing faculty workloads with incentives; managing the accreditation of programs,
credentialing of students, and potential awarding of full degrees for online learning; developing
From onlinelearningsummit.org/program.html
5 March 2013
financially sustainable models for online learning enterprises and understanding their possible
impact on current revenue sources; fostering meaningful collaborations with other higher
education institutions, foundations, and companies; and exploring the promise technologies
might have for lowering educational and research costs and enabling global engagement.
4–4:45 PM
Conclusions and Closing Remarks
Thomas L. Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist, The New York Times
Alan M. Garber, Provost, Harvard University
Chris A. Kaiser, Provost, MIT
4:45–6 PM
Reception and Demonstrations
From onlinelearningsummit.org/program.html
5 March 2013
The Summit Program Committee recommends the following reading in advance of the event.
1. "The Particle Accelerator of Learning” (Inside Higher Ed, Peter Stokes, February 22,
2. "Four Professors Discuss Teaching Free Online Courses for Thousands of Students" (The
Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffrey Young, June 11, 2012)
3. "What We're Learning from Online Education" (Daphne Koller, TED Talk, June 2012)
4. "Learning from MOOCS" (Inside Higher Ed, January 24, 3013)
5. "How Harvard's CS50 Renewed My Hope for Online Education" (Modern Wanderlust
blog, Erik Trautma, January 6, 2013)
6. "After the gold rush: MOOCs are augmenting rather than replacing formal educational
models" (LSE Impact of Social Science, January 16, 2013)
7. "Beyond MOOCs Into Greater Openness" (Library Journal, Steven Bell, January 9, 2013)
8. "Online Courses Create New Learning Methods" (The Dartmouth, Stephanie McFeeters,
January 17, 2013)
9. "Researchers, MOOCs, and Online Programs" (Inside Higher Ed, Joshua Kim, January
14, 2013)
10. "edX in the Community College: The MassBay Experience" (Campus Technology, Mary
Grush, January 9, 2013)
11. "Revolution Hits the Universities" (The New York Times, Thomas Friedman, January 26,
12. "The Year of the MOOC" (The New York Times, November 2, 2012)
13. "Online Courses Look for a Business Model" (The Wall Street Journal, Melissa Korn and
Jennifer Levitz, January 1, 2013)
14. "Public Universities to Offer Free Online Classes for Credit" (The New York Times,
Tamar Lewin, January 23, 2013)
15. "California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial" (The New York Times, Tamar Lewin and
John Markoff, January 15, 2013)
16. "Unishared: Revolution in Online Education Beyond Coursera, Edx, and Udacity"
(Forbes, Ricardo Geromel, September 17, 2012)
17. "The MOOC Model: Challenging Traditional Education" (Educause, January 28, 2013)
18. "Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Library" (Educause)
19. "Carnegie, the Founder of the Credit-Hour, Seeks its Makeover" (The Chronicle of
Higher Education, December 5, 2012)
20. "Who Benefits from Online Ed?" (Inside Higher Education, February 25, 2013)
21. "The 'Cost Disease' in Higher Education: Is Technology the Answer?" (William G.
Bowen, The Tanner Lectures, Stanford University, October 2012)
A preview of Dr. Bowen’s book, Higher Education in the Digital Age, forthcoming from the
Princeton University Press
Exclusive excerpt for Summit participants
From onlinelearningsummit.org/program.html
5 March 2013
Request an e-review copy via NetGalley
Book preface
From onlinelearningsummit.org/program.html
5 March 2013