Socc it to ya, ya big Mooc

December 13, 2012

THE correctly points to aspects of massive open online courses that UK universities could learn from ("This could be huge...", 6 December). For example, the development of "big data" models to better explain students' setbacks and progress, and software that adjusts the weighting of peer marking by students who assign inaccurate grades, are useful for any programme with e-learning elements. Khan Academy-style presentations would no doubt be welcomed by students with poor attention spans. Yet, I remain underwhelmed by an educational model that struggles to build a sustainable staff-student relationship of trust and mutual respect.

The pool hall "mook" brawl in Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) offers an alternative vision. "Soccs" (small online closed courses) might be a better description of what many so-called "Moocs" will end up looking like.

Simon Walker, National teaching fellow Head, Educational Development Unit, University of Greenwich

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