Last January, the University began offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) in partnership with the online learning platform edX. Since registration began, several of the University’s online courses have been completed, and the courses’ instructors said they have gained insight into MOOCs’ innovative educational approach.Professor of physics Michael Hildreth and associate professor of teaching in mathematics Annette Pilkington collaborated as instructors for the University’s offering of “Math in Sports.”“We had a couple of TAs who would monitor the online assignments and the blog chat,” Hildreth said. “The Office of Digital Learning did a huge amount of work in terms of post-production. … If I were to try do this by myself, I could never do it.”Though producing the courses was a group effort, the instructors found the courses themselves were less collaborative. Pilkington said in an email she experienced less interaction with students than she had expected, and Hildreth agreed.“There definitely is a disconnect. Because there was no feedback, you’re standing up there talking to an imaginary group of people. It is a little strange,” Hildreth said.Gabriel Said Reynolds, professor of Islamic Studies and theology and the instructor for the University’s offering of “Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam,” said teaching an online course is challenging because the instructor does not have the direct contact of the physical classroom experience.“Students are able to profit if they are motivated,” he said. “The great majority of students are not taking the course for a letter grade. … It showed me how much students are motivated by the grade.”Hildreth said although the online courses were less interactive than more conventional offerings, he felt students received timely feedback and had their questions answered.Pilkington said the edX has a good layout and smooth video playing, though she encountered programming limitations in creating math questions.“The platform was pretty slick,” Hildreth said. “Production values are really high. I did some editing of the modules and things like that, and it was pretty easy to customize things and move things about.”While there is speculation that MOOCs will fundamentally change higher education, Pilkington said she believes they offer more opportunities for students and teachers.“I don’t think it will threaten the university system as we know it,” she said.Hildreth said the MOOCs are missing the engagement of a physical classroom, where, crucially, students can engage with each other as well as the professor. The technology of online courses cannot replicate the interactivity of a conventional classroom experience, he said, although Hildreth did not rule out such a future possibility.“I think putting as much content out there for people is better than nothing, but online learning doesn’t, by any sense of the imagination, replace what we do here in the classroom,” Hildreth said.Reynolds said he felt online classes were a good thing for students, particularly those in countries without access to expert teachers. MOOCs also give more students access to leading scholars, he said, and facilitate the democratization of knowledge.“Having taught mature students, I know that they have incredible motivation but struggle greatly with finding time to study,” Pilkington wrote. “I think that online courses and degrees will have great appeal to part-time students and will improve their lot by freeing up time that would otherwise be spent traveling to and from class at their local university in addition to providing options at distant institutions.”Hildreth said he may use methods from his online class in his physical classroom, such as producing videos of him addressing a problematic concept. The instructional video could save instructors and students time on frequently asked questions.Reynolds said there are many new possibilities to engage students created by the development of the technology behind MOOCs, and he believes they are an exciting way to use technology to aid, if not replace, the conventional learning process.“Some students would thrive in an online environment and some would not do well. It is certainly beneficial to have resources available in the form of online courses,” Pilkington said. “However, I think given the choice between studying full-time at a university and studying part-time online, the better choice is to immerse oneself fully in their studies for a few years on a campus.”Tags: edX, moocs, Office of Digital Learning
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The Queens Museum looked like CBGB’s as thousands of people in leather and denim packed the main floor on Sunday to celebrate the Ramones, the legendary punk band from Forest Hills whose original, hard-hitting music remains as vibrant today as it was 40 years ago when their legendary first album was released on April 10, 1976.The occasion was the opening of “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk,” an exhibit of signed guitars, battered Marshall amps, original albums, rare photos and an array of memorabilia lovingly organized by the Queens Museum and the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, in collaboration with Ramones Productions, Inc., JAM Inc. and Silent Partner Management, with production support by Pace Gallery. It’s co-curated by Queens Museum guest curator Marc H. Miller and Bob Santelli, executive director of the GRAMMY Museum.The project has been years in the making, explained Miller, whose last show at the museum was dedicated to Louis Armstrong, who also resided in Queens.“In the end it all came together,” Miller told the Press as he gazed at the crowd waiting to get into the special galleries, culminating in a 60-minute film of the band’s ’77 London concert. “I got the opportunity to do the show I wanted here.”He selected the objects and picked their spots.“Curating is about rejecting stuff as much as it is about what you’re putting in,” Miller said. “With the Ramones, there were a gazillion photographers, and everybody has their favorite photograph so the trick is not to get seduced by a photograph that only stands by itself. I always like having little stories within the exhibition.”This exhibit runs at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens until July 31, when everything is packed up and moved to L.A., where it will be on display from Sept. 16, 2016 through March 2017. Visitors to the Queens show can take away a great map of the Ramones’ New York City, drawn by John Holstrom, that shows their roots as well as important landmarks in their life. On the flip side is an illustrated account of their career and lasting influence.Over the years the band’s mantra “Hey Ho, Let’s Go!” could be heard blaring over the sound system in nearby Shea Stadium and later at Citi Field when the Mets—or their fans—needed a lift. But the refrain wouldn’t last long, depending on the action on the field. Here at the Queens Museum, the cultural contribution of Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy get their full due with a tribute that honors them for their legacy and influence. Talk about New York values, what other band embodies it better than the Ramones?Their self-titled debut album, recorded at Plaza Sound Studios on the 7th floor of Radio City Music Hall, introduced the world to the uncompromising music known as punk. Recorded in three days for a total cost of $6,400, the first album raced through 14 songs in 29 minutes. Despite its seminal influence, it actually took years until it went gold, in part because at the time of its release rock radio stations did not know how to handle its ground-breaking, genre-defying style.But the Ramones found a receptive audience—and they never looked back.As the exhibit’s brochure relates, the Ramones’ “minimalist tunes, slapstick lyrics, buzzsaw guitars, and blitzkrieg tempo became the wellspring for a new music and culture.” Their music “lifted listeners out of the bleak world described in its lyrics, providing anthems for a worldwide fellowship of the disaffected.”It was the time of New York City’s bankruptcy, high crime and graffiti-covered subway cars, when tenement buildings were crumbling and people were scrambling in the shadows just to get by.None of the original band survives: Joey died from lymphoma in 2001, Dee Dee overdosed in 2002, Johnny succumbed to prostate cancer in 2004 and Tommy fell to bile duct cancer in 2014. But their presence was on full display Sunday in Queens. How they’d react to all the attention is hard to say. No doubt they’d smirk.“I don’t even know who the Ramones are!” admitted a woman who was standing near the stage where a live band was performing “The KKK Took My Baby Away” in the main hall. She’d come to the museum because WNYC had said on its broadcast that “it was the top thing to do in Queens!”On hand for the opening was Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who was very pleased with the turnout. Outside the museum the parking lots were full and more cars were parked over the curb and on the grass. Asked what her favorite Ramones song was, Katz thought for a moment and picked two: “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Pinhead,” which is memorable for its refrain, “Gabba gabba hey!”Nearby in the lobby entrance stood Monte A. Melnick, the band’s tour manager, who also helped compile the show’s collection. He was pumped up by the size of the crowd, which vindicated all the time and effort the organizers had devoted to making the show possible.As Tommy Ramone, the drummer, put it in the band’s first press release, “The Ramones all originate from Forest Hills, and kids who grew up there either became musicians, degenerates or dentists. The Ramones are a little of each.”“Hey! Ho! Lets’ Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk” runs until July 31 at the Queens Museum, at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park [exit 9P heading west off the Grand Central], 718-592-9700.Queens Museum guest-curator Marc Miller holds the Ramones map at the opening of the exhibit on the legendary punk band.