MOOCs and The Change of Higher Education

Stefan Popenici, Aug 30, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I think people are still looking for the value proposition for learning. Case in point: "It is evident that mastering critical thinking, collaboration, presentation skills and genuine empathy require human connection, interaction and practice, and are best acquired in person, not only online. This is why we like to drink our coffee with friends – whenever possible – on a coffee shop, not on Skype." I don't think this is at all evident. Minimally, it needs to be shown. Maximally, some aspects (such as empathy) may be innate, others may be acquired through self-learning, and our desire for human contact might have nothing to do with the requirements for learning from them. Indeed, at best, we can assert only the almost tautological, 'in order to learn how to interact with humans, one must interact with humans'. But even here, one might suggest, a well-designed simulation might do the trick.

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