Prefab Teaching

Somebody we all know and like (I have no idea what the protocol for quoting Facebook comments is and I don’t want to invade people’s privacy on Facebook) said the following:

I would be more open to the creative potential of digital distance teaching if people who do not accept that I already teach hybrid, with mega-Moodle sites, websites, and blogs, would stop browbeating me about how I should replace myself with someone else’s canned lectures if I am not to be declared a Luddite.

Anyway, there is this and I think I must reform my critique: instead of saying anything that can be interpreted as anti-machine, I will criticize the MOOC promoters for not being pro-machine enough themselves, or not having discovered all of the really advanced potential in machines.

I agree with this statement completely. I use a lot of technology in my courses but I use it exclusively and without an exception to deliver the content that I have created specifically for my students. If I make a video for my students, every word in it comes from me and every slide or sequence has been created by me. These videos cannot be transferred or sold to anybody else because they only make sense within the framework of my courses.

I’m very happy that this colleague has given me a way of pushing back against all the suggestions that I substitute my content with somebody else’s. I mean, if I was hired to teach, then I will teach. And my material will come from my own store of knowledge. Switching on some pre-fab lecture created by somebody else does not qualify as teaching.

So now I will tell the MOOC lovers and the instructional video promoters that they don’t understand technology well enough. There is the kind of cooking that consists of heating up a TV dinner and there is the kind where you create a culinary miracle from scratch with your own hands. I’m into the latter while the MOOCers are into the former.

4 thoughts on “Prefab Teaching

  1. “I’m into the latter while the MOOCers are into the former.”

    Although they will swear not. They say they are doing it live, just through a machine, and so on, and that even though the MOOC puts the professor at a greater distance from the students, that is OK because it makes the students interact more.


  2. MOOCers seem to be into large class sizes, which would necessitate pre fab stuff. True interaction, online or offline, requires a class size limit. All of my most rewarding classes or online communities are small. At some point, Dunbar’s number kicks in, I think, even for online relationships. If you have a cast of thousands, does it really matter that you took a class with a rockstar professor, either in terms of networking (“I took a class with rockstar professor”) or in terms of teaching (“I interacted with the rockstar professor and the classmates and they really critiqued what I did”)?

    OT: A controversial
    high school graduation speech that got the speaker heckled for not being more positive. I think there’s stuff you’d like and hate in it.


      1. The number of people who actually finish those MOOCs is negligible. This happens because online learning only works if there is a regular and intense contact between teacher and student.


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