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Spanish language teacher

I see what you're trying to

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I see what you're trying to get across, Matt. But you forget one thing: that teacher-student relations can go both ways: they can work *for* the student and this is definitely an area that MOOCs will always fall behind in, but they can also go sour - I can think of at least half a dozen cases when teacher's animosity towards me in school and university were playing against me.

Hi Mr. Levinson. I enjoyed

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Hi Mr. Levinson. I enjoyed this article, and I do agree that in many MOOCs, students lose this sense of connection. Enter North Carolina Virtual Public School. Our virtual institution is built on 4 key pillars - teaching through effective daily learning blocks, teaching through synchronous communication, teaching through individualized feedback, and teaching through unique student connections. Unlike many MOOCs, we teach through connection. I have taught 4 years for NCVPS, and I will say it is the most rewarding experience in my career. I have seen students of all learning abilities - from self-contained EC to AP - thrive and achieve through this means. Our teachers are carefully trained not just in the latest and greatest technology, but in the connections. I would be happy to share more about our model. I am very proud of it, and we presently boast the iNACOL National Teacher of the Year. Regards, Darlene

Assistant Principal, Middle School, Yavneh Academy

Are MOOCs meant to replace

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Are MOOCs meant to replace high school classes or college lectures? If the former, then I agree with the critique of them. However, to the extent that they serve to replace 101-level lectures in colleges, let's be candid and admit that those courses often lack the close connection with a teacher. Obviously, it depends on the size of the school, but in a midsize to large institution, the basic lecture courses can have several hundred students, and those students will have as much a connection with the teacher as they will if they learn via MOOC.

Edupreneur, CEO and Lead iOS Engineer at Luma Education

I absolutely agree with you.

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I absolutely agree with you. Engagement and establishing relationships between members of the online class is key for a good online education, specially now that we have people from all over the world studying together.
With StudyRoom (www.getstudyroom.com), we are embracing social learning and pushing students and professors in the study rooms to embrace collaboration with each other. As you said, trust grows from those interactions and it is pretty amazing to see the students creating study groups and getting together to study and meet each other.

There are MOOCs and there are

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There are MOOCs and there are cMOOCs http://lisahistory.net/wordpress/2012/08/three-kinds-of-moocs/

#ETMOOC is a convectivist mooc, yes the first goal is to help teachers learn about educational technology and media in the classroom, but it is also about connected learning.
We can see the difference in the learning.

Sixth Grade Teacher

Like Paul, I'm participating

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Like Paul, I'm participating in #etmooc. It is my first MOOC, and I love it. I feel very connected to all of the organizers, they comment regularly on my blogposts, answer my questions, and support me in my learning in a way that no teacher has in my educational history. Not only that, but because connecting is a focus, I have managed to network with a group of peers who share my interests and offer further support. My learning has been exponential, and what I love the most is that I truly can learn at my own pace. I've glanced at everything, some of the technology is still over my head and I. Am not ready for it. But everything is archived so I know that when I am ready, I can come back to it. It is scaffolding and differentiated instruction to the extreme!

Mum to Mr17 & Ms2, Step-mum to Mr6 - Early Childhood Professional Australia

I'd also like to add...

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I'd also like to add - There are teachers.. and then there are teachers.

If we can dispense with the rhetoric and poetry I think we need to realistically look at the lack of relationship between students and teachers that most of us experienced. The teachers that we truly 'bond' with are few and far between. From our family's experience, face-to-face (high school) classrooms were rigid and scheduled to such a tight timetable that there was no time for any personal interactions with teachers.
My MOOC experience so far has connected me with more students and teaching-staff than I ever did on campus. The communication is direct, the facilitators are making use of video and all streams of online media. There are 39,999 other students that you can interact with via text or video. People have even arranged study groups or meetups with students that are nearby.
Also, the drop-out rate quoted in the article is not far off from the drop-out rate at the colleges that I've taught at. One of our MOOC professors made an interesting point that MOOCs are an opportunity for people to jump in and experience as much or as little of the course as they need. It's possible to spend a week or two and gain the knowledge or skills or network that you wanted/needed without having to complete the entire course if the "qualification" wasn't the main outcome. This presents a new 'fluid' type of education that bricks-and-mortar schooling doesn't provide.

Head of the Upper Division, Marin Country Day School

I agree with the comments

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I agree with the comments about engagement. Mimi Ito makes the point about starting with engagement (and not outcomes) first as we construct learning environments. A well constructed MOOC can create and foster engagement and "hook" student interest, but the issue still remains how to connect the content of the MOOC with the power of the relationship that gets established between teacher and student (and this may be more of an issue for the younger grades and not for college age students). It's more challenging to build learning communities without sustained face to face interactions and the trust that grows from those interactions.

The book I co-authored with

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The book I co-authored with my sister was intended to be the basis of a sitcom, and uses a conversational format. After hearing about our book, KIPP asked us to develop - and teach - a personal finance curriculum. Since neither of us are teachers (or financial experts) we asked for a task force of students from the KIPP Class of 2010 to help us. The conversations the book generated with those eight students (who we fondly call our guinea pigs) and ultimately with other students and their teachers/mentors/moderators is what we believe makes it the program successful. The book, and our book club approach, has been approved by the Texas State Board of Education.

The book/program has recently been piloted by the Chaplain at a men's prison, and she attributes much of the success of the program to the interaction and discussions it generates.

Having said all that, I think there are applications/topics that are well-suited for MOOC, but we need to be careful as today's students are losing the critical interpersonal skills that are necessary to survive and thrive in the real world.

There are MOOCs and then there are MOOCs...

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I agree with the point the other commenters have made. Community interaction and feedback is possible even in a MOOC. In fact, having had exposure to two MOOCs recently, one a success and the other a fail, it has become clear to me that the cultivation of social interaction, of community, among MOOC students is critical (my post on the topic, at EdSocialMedia, is here: http://www.edsocialmedia.com/2013/01/a-tale-of-two-moocs/).

I would add, however, that student-student interaction may be just as important as student-teacher interaction. Certainly on E-Learning and Digital Cultures, one of the MOOCs I've been involved with, student-student interaction seemed to be key (though even there, the instructors effectively used social media tools, such as Google hangouts, to promote teacher-student interaction).

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