MOOCs, student engagement, and the value of contact

MOOCs: el futuro de la educación. La posibilidad de tomar un curso entero de “Computer Science” de Harvard (el famoso CS50) o del MIT, al alcance en pocos clics. Impresionante.

chemprofdave

I’m a teacher. I teach. But I don’t really teach. I’m a learning helper. Every year, at the beginning of the semester (which is tomorrow), I compare learning chemistry to learning tennis.

Now, I know the basics of tennis. You hold the racket, swing it around this way for a forehand and that way for a backhand.. You hit the ball over the net so it bounces inside the lines. Then the other player hits it back.

Does that make me a good tennis player? No it does not. I never practice. I haven’t held a tennis racket in years. If you don’t actually use the principles, you’re not going to get beyond the most superficial levels.

So as a learning helper, my role is to coach students through learning the content, skills, and thought patterns that make someone competent at sophomore organic chemistry. I can’t unscrew the tops of…

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