Hello, Zed Omegas! I was reading an article about edX last night, which is MIT+Harvard’s foray into the world of massive open online courses (MOOCs). This is post-secondary education stuff, which isn’t really your focus, but something in the middle of the article sparked my interest and made me think, hey, this is something worth talking about, maybe. What interested me - and what I feel is most applicable to your explorations in education - is in edX’s president’s answer to the third question. I’ll quote part of the answer here:
“When we began the course, we were really concerned about the large number of students enrolled. We had 154,000 students sign up and our staff was about six or seven people, which is the kind of staff that we have for a 100-person on-campus class. We didn’t know how we were going to deal with all the questions and so on that students usually have, but through our online discussion boards, we saw the students answering each other’s questions. There were no repeat questions because once someone asked a question everybody could see the response. In that way, we were able to serve 154,000 students with a very small staff. I think that was clearly our biggest learning experience and the biggest surprise we had.”
The students teaching students thing really interests me, and I wonder if that is something that learners outside the traditional schooling formula can leverage. Maybe there are places where they already are? I don’t know. Online forums where unschoolers/homeschoolers/non-traditional learners (or even traditional learners - why not?) can share their learning experience and information, and learn from each other, answer each other’s questions, etc.
I do know that I’ve seen this kind of knowledge sharing in citizen science projects like Citizen Sky, where everyone who signed up to observe and share data also shared learning. If someone didn’t know how to configure a piece of equipment, they could log on to the site, ask a question, and SOMEONE would have the right answer. (And if someone posted a wrong answer, someone else would come right along and correct it pretty quickly.) In this way, everyone’s skills improved in using observing techniques and equipment.
I thought, this idea of the massive classroom and student learning networks seems so relevant to learning and education, and I had to wonder, is this (or something like it) being utilized in traditional schools (and if not, why not?), and is it something that could be useful to you and other non-traditional learners?
What do you guys think?
(Clare’s positive response to Brandie’s earlier post)