Matt Emerson | Oct. 9, 2013 | America Magazine
Shock find: People don't like to be isolated.
This, essentially, is what the Wall Street Journal reports today in an article summarizing the pros and cons of MOOCs -- the "massive open online courses" pioneered by companies like Coursera and edX and now increasingly offered at mainstream American universities, including Harvard, MIT and Stanford.
In "An Early Report Card on MOOCs," the WSJ's Geoffrey A. Fowler writes that of "a number of problems" with MOOCs, perhaps most pressing is this: "Staring at a screen makes some students feel isolated and disengaged, which can lead to poor performance or dropping out altogether." According to the article, more than 90% of people who sign up for a MOOC don't finish the course."
But the struggles with MOOCs do raise a larger point: whether online courses and e-based pedagogy should be treated as equal alternatives to a classic classroom or campus environment.