On May 2, 2012, Pedagogy Cohort watched the above TED video by Daphne Koller and discussed the idea of using standardized videos from top-tier universities as components of our courses. Koller and her associate Andrew Ng created Coursera at Stanford University, which makes lectures from 16 universities across the country available to the public. It also provides assignments and assessments to support learning. Integrating the Coursera videos might enable us to “flip” our classrooms by allowing students to watch lectures outside of class and spend classtime working on problems or case studies with professors.
After watching the TED video, we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of integrating Coursera. On the positive side, Coursera provides high-quality lectures on various topics, enabling us to flip our classroom right away without videotaping all our own lectures – a process that may take an entire semester. The negatives, however, may outweigh the positives. First, lectures on the particular topics we wish to cover may not be available. Further, the information provided on these lectures is static; it does not necessarily reflect the latest scholarship. We also agreed that one of the benefits of “live” lecture is that students can stop and ask the professor to clarify or provide more examples. Students watching at home may forget where their questions lie by the end of a given lecture and fail to fully understand the material. Finally, classrooms provide distraction-free environments as opposed to home-learning environments, where students might not disconnect themselves from social media or cellphones. Concentration is key to learning.