Thoughts on MOOCs and math teachers

Posted on June 4, 2014

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So I’m looking more at the MOOC and noticing how many comments have a student really frustrated, or saying the course isn’t doing them any good.   THe cool thing about this one is that there is feedback… from people who know what they’re talking about, usually.   

    I did smack into another problem with a big honking assumption where the “replies” tried to get the student to understand the problem. “You live X miles from your grandmother’s house.   Your work is Y miles from grandma’s house. You drive by grandma’s house on the way to work one morning… how far did you drive?” 

    Welp, where does Grandma live?   If she’s on the way… then it’s your usual commute and you add them, and that’s “the answer.” 

    But:   the problem *does not say* that.   Granted,if they’re on the same straight line it doesn’t matter what the sequence is, but why should we assume that?   

   I’m also wondering who “LisaB” is, who has been helpfully answering… and answered my question about some inconsistencies early on. 

     Once again, though, it’s assumed that … the person asking the question Simply Doesn’t Understand.   It’s not that the question is vague — no, no~!

     Another thing occurred to me and gelled almost solid:   because of my perspective as a tutor, and my years at The New Community School, and the fact that I’m not too busy… I want every. Single.  Student.   to get it.   The idea that “I explained it once, so you need to work it ’til you get it”  … when I’m working with a student whose experience has been that working *does not,* in fact, lead to “getting it,”   then no wonder they shut down and resort to survival strategies, not learning strategies.

      Also confirmed:   once we’ve gone over something… you’re supposed to have fully grokked and know it to “transfer to new material.”   Another New Community lesson was that teaching the transition was awesomely useful (especially since so many kiddos honestly think all this stuff is little separate packages).   

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