Humanities and the Future of Teaching and Learning

My colleague and boss Peter Powers called my attention to this piece through his Facebook page.  It looks like Duke professors, many of them from non-humanities disciplines, are singing the praises of the humanities.

Dr. Brenda Armstrong, director of admission for the Duke School of Medicine, argues that medical students need an education that “presents an example of how you integrate into community, how you transfer a set of values and communicate to communities notions of leadership for those who are coming behind you.”

Ian Baucom, an English professor thinks MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) can be effective, but he adds: “a new domain appears to be emerging in what is essential for a university: If you don’t have a MOOC, do you matter?”  He warns us to be “careful about the distinction between a course and an education.”

Mohamed Noor, a biologist who recently had some success teaching a MOOC, believes that online learning will never replace classroom learning, but is impressed by the engagement of the 10,000 students who took his “Introductions to Genetics and Evolution” online course:

I met a high school student in El Salvador who didn’t like his biology class but who got interested in this class.  I heard from a train driver in Sheffield, England, who didn’t have money for university but could take this class.  There was a great outpouring of support for Duke University from people who couldn’t believe that a major university would invest time and effort for this for free.”

Interesting piece.  Articles like this, and bloggers such as Jonathan Rees, are really helping me to sort through some of this MOOC stuff.  Thanks.

One thought on “Humanities and the Future of Teaching and Learning

  1. Thomas Friedman takes the conversation a step further and in this article seems to say that local professors should feel the competition of online top schools breathing down their backs. Why not the other way around?

    I've searched the online sessions from Yale, Notre Dame, MIT, and Harvard looking to integrate material into my classes and and in some cases I've been unimpressed.

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