By Terry Hébert, Pharmacology and Therapeutics
An interesting article by the president of my Alma Mater, David Naylor at the University of Toronto on the continuing need for interpersonal contact in the university educational setting. Here, he is commenting on the use of MOOCs (massive open online courses). To quote him:
“At U of T, recent curriculum reforms have deliberately leavened academic and technical skills with what one might call “renewable competencies,” such as critical thinking, effective writing and communications, problem-solving, teamwork, and ethical and social reasoning. These are competencies for a lifetime, for any job and for every citizen.”
This is also the raison d’être for McGill’s Inquiry network (http://www.mcgill.ca/tls/projects/nexus/network).
Naylor also says: “It’s hard to imagine nurturing such attributes effectively without some in-person interactions. It’s even harder to imagine how traits such as resilience or emotional self-awareness can be developed in an online cocoon with its pseudo-socialization. In contrast, if student A debates student B in a seminar, neither can reboot as their pet arguments get shredded. And the good news is that they might thereafter engage in civil discourse and discover the most important piece of human geography: common ground.
Also, here is a link to a lot of good articles on the risks and opportunities of online learning and MOOCs: