Online exertions

February 20, 2014

I enjoyed Dale Salwak’s thoughtful and thought-provoking article about his experience of teaching an online course (“From chalkface to interface”, Feature, 13 February). It’s worth noting, however, that he was not teaching a massive open online course. First, it wasn’t open; and second, with 35 students, it was more a micro online course.

There are two take-home messages from his experiment. First, if the effort of engaging and retaining 33 of his 35 students left Salwak “emotionally and intellectually drained”, how much more effort would be needed for a successful Mooc? And second, if you are lucky enough to teach a course comprising only 35 students, don’t fritter away the opportunity by substituting face-to-face teaching for technology.

Tim Birkhead
University of Sheffield

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