I opened the class thinking that I would get students to design the assignments and evaluations themselves. I began with a discussion of what grades mean. They watched me suspiciously. What does she want? They assumed it was a trap. Then I required a page-long self-assessment. It asked them to spell out their goals and to discuss how they had and had not met them. It asked them to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their paper, in terms of both content and form, and to explain this. And, finally, I asked them to grade themselves.
Joey and Katie both got A’s in their classes. Joey read about 30 pages, and Katie read about 3,000. Joey took 15 quizzes and a final exam, and wrote a four-page paper. Katie wrote 15 weekly position papers and four more substantial papers, each with two drafts that received comments from both the professor and fellow students, and ended with a 15-page research project. Joey enjoyed the class and learned some important things about how to analyze the role of sport in society. Katie’s life was transformed by the class. Both learned, both succeeded, but there were some substantial differences.
The latest change in the higher education world is the arrival of something called MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses, as Harvard and MIT announced something called EdX in May 2012. These have evolved from the Open Courseware begun so generously by MIT a decade or so ago, and build on a growing body of scholarship about the ways online education can be used to make higher education more accessible to large numbers of people, or how to deal with the massification of higher education.
One of the most interesting aspects of it, though, is that when people are finished they earn badges.