Online courses: high hopes, trimmed

The idea of a remote course that will “educate” thousands or hundreds of thousands of students is something only a venture capitalist could dream up, The New York Times reports.

Every effective teacher knows that coursework is not just about imparting information; it is about motivating our students to want to learn about the material and giving them the skills to do so. This requires adapting to their differences, not treating them all identically.

The use of the web to help accomplish this is no big mystery. Nor is it reliant on the next “big idea” approach that fuels Silicon Valley.

Like every colleague of mine, I use websites, podcasts, chat rooms, videos — any supportive technology that works — to augment and extend what I do in the classroom. Managing the balance between the needs of our students and what the web can offer in this hybrid approach is the real challenge.

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