Fifth in a Series. First one is here.
When I was at MIT, it seemed like hardly anyone there was interested in teaching. My advisor told me that mathematicians viewed teaching as akin to golf: an unrelated side-interest. The teaching award was known as the “kiss of death,” because faculty who got it did not get tenure. Graduate students who showed too much interest in teaching were presumed not sufficiently serious about research.
But with MOOCs, MIT and its peers Harvard, Stanford, and the like, are now interested in education, and due to their prestige, are the presumed leaders. A bit after I enrolled in the physics MOOC from MIT there was an article about MOOCs in the Boston Globe that discussed the course, and where another MIT instructor talked about how from MOOC data he learned that students often start the problems before they watch lectures, which gave him the idea to sometimes intentionally start with problems, something that many of us (including some in the dreaded ed schools) have known for years (and some of us skip lecturing almost entirely).
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