Online Learning in Computing Forum (from ACM Ed Council)
The ACM Education Board and Council have just published a white paper addressing the growing popularity of online education, specifically Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). "Online Learning in Computing" grew out of a panel on online learning hosted by the ACM Education Council in June 2012, with several respected educators and researchers sharing their experiences with and opinions on teaching and learning online: Woodie Flowers of MIT, Peter Norvig of Google, John Mitchell of Stanford University, Dave Patterson of Berkeley (former president of ACM), and Candice Thille of Carnegie Mellon University. This white paper was put together in consultation and with the participation of members of the Education Council and its various representatives, including the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).
Rather than taking a stance on the merits of online education, the paper seeks to outline the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies and current educational experiments, and provide a platform to encourage discussion and debate. Potential opportunities for online education as they relate to Education Council priorities are discussed, particularly in the context of the CS2013 curriculum guidelines and the K-12 and Indian education initiatives.
Please use the forum below to share your comments on the paper.
-- The ACM Education Council
ACM rightly has an excellent reputation for the excellence of its publications in the field of Computer Science. However, its reputation may well suffer with the publication of this poor article.
The paper clearly estates the pros and cons of online education. However, it seems that the opinions given (i.e. about how online courses seem to encourage academic dishonesty and increase class-drop rates) came from the idea of getting online degrees without going to a physical school. In my opnion, actively participating in the class and completing the full online course will not be the priority of the persons taking the course, but instead of just expanding their knowledge or reviewng particular subjects in the class that interest them. I personally am a great promoter of online self education to high school students whose high schools do not offer computer science courses. However, I promote them in a sense to give themselves an idea of what a computer science class looks like and, even if they don't fully complete or understand the course the first time, I motivate them to take it again. This way, when the students go to a university, they will have a greater interest and better knowledge in computer science than just applying for a major that they don't know what it is about.
This is a timely presentation from the ACM Education Council. There are as many questions as answers when it comes to the role of online learning. We all have to look at what we do and how things will be changing. What is critical to protect and what benefits should we be embracing? I look forward to an active discussion on the subject!