MOOC madness reflection: a student’s view from inside UC Berkeley

After attending the Technapex’s MOOC Madness event last Monday, I found myself both excited about the potential MOOCs have to expand the reach of higher education, as well as slightly sore about some of the assumptions that were made about online learning, Technapex reports. The main presumption that irked me was the argument that the best learning takes place inside a physical classroom. I understand that the intention behind this position is that personal interaction and collaboration between students will inspire the most creativity and therefore maximize understanding; however, I have issues with the connections made between this interaction and the classroom environment, specifically within higher ed institutions. Most of the material presented in a university course does not necessitate a physical classroom, and is even observed to be the less-preferred option among students. The connection between comprehensive learning and a typical classroom environment was that presented and supported by the panel; however, my own personal experiences as a student have led to my support of a very contrary stance. … I find that the majority of the time I spend in class (the time spent in lecture) is less of a wholesome and enriching environment filled with collaboration and idea-swapping and rather more a big hollow room where I sit for 50-minute time slots and someone shares his or her own thoughts and opinions.

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The best college course ever?

UC Berkeley had a Starcraft course in 2009.
UC Berkeley also offered a StarCraft course in 2009.

Playing the real-time strategy video game StarCraft isn’t just for frittering away afternoons in students’ dorm rooms. It’s now for college credit, too.

University of Florida (UF) education technology doctoral student Nathaniel Poling is teaching the eight-week, two-credit class, “21st Century Skills in StarCraft,” this fall, using the internationally beloved computer game to hone students’ on-the-go decision making skills, resource management skills, and penchant to analyze ever-changing scenarios in the complex game’s platform.

Poling’s course will be conducted entirely online and is limited to 20 students who have, at the very least, “basic knowledge” of StarCraft, a game that pits three species battling for supremacy in the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy.…Read More

Professors file petition against Google Books settlement

From UC Berkeley to Cornell, more than 80 professors have signed a petition against a pending settlement agreement between Google Inc. and authors and publishers, reports the Daily Californian. The petition calls into question provisions within the settlement that its signers say will give Google a “de facto monopoly” over books scanned in a digital library project. According to the petition, co-written by Pamela Samuelson, a UC Berkeley professor of law and information, two of the main concerns that professors have with the settlement are the amount of compensation authors will receive for the past scanning of books, and insufficient privacy protections. Jan. 28 is the last day for authors to reject the terms of the settlement, as well as to file objections to the settlement for the presiding judge to review. In a Jan. 27 campus memo in response to Samuelson’s petition, UC Berkeley professor of economics, business, and information Hal Varian said he sees the benefits the settlement would bring. “The agreement is not perfect, but I believe it to be a huge improvement over the status quo for authors, publishers, scholars, and the general public,” Varian said in the memo. “In my view, it deserves the enthusiastic support of all Berkeley faculty.”

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