在线教育新媒体

    麻省理工目前正在该校最受欢迎的人文MOOC尝试教师评阅论文的方法,这在所有同学科在线课程中尚属首次。

    该校大规模开放在线课程(MOOC)“哲学入门——神、知识、意识”于上周一开课,学员可选择由活生生的哲学家来评阅修改论文。这些评阅人首先将从麻省的毕业生中选拔。

    此举的目的有两个——一是向世界各地的学员介绍哲学的基本命题;二是为广大哲学家提供就业机会,同时让那些支付300美元以获得实名认证证书的学生有机会提升自身的书面论证技巧。

    这已是麻省理工第三次开设此课程,该课的变化大体上反映了MOOC的发展趋势。首次开课,采取的是课程录像加多项选择问题的形式,以测试学生的阅读理解能力。第二次就加入了同伴互评的内容,每个学生评阅同学的数篇论文。

    课程发起人Caspar Hare教授表示:“教这门课感觉很美妙。”前两期课程的学员达到近9万人,课程论坛也满是关于宗教和自由意志的争论,一片火热。但Hare同时表示,“可以做的还有很多,”认为课程写作任务欠缺。

    “课程论文对你理解整个领域至关重要,”Hare坦言,“真不觉得它可有可无。”

    在MOOC中实行论文评阅对院校来说是个棘手的问题。因为一门MOOC课程的学员往往成千上万,也就是说仅仅是每个学生一篇论文也会超出一位乃至一群老师的工作极限,更何谈给予有意义的反馈。

    麻省理工协助创立的MOOC平台EdX已经试点论文自动评阅功能,但此次课程尚不会采用这项技术。一些教师,包括Hare,都对它持怀疑态度。

    麻省目前尝试的哲学MOOC模式保留了原有的自动化元素,如课程录像和在线测验,这些都免费提供。希望由老师评阅论文、进行更多互动的学员则需要另外付费。通常只有一小部分MOOC学员会选择实名认证证书,这在一定程度上也使得论文审阅工作量更加可控。

    Hare强调,该模式仍在试验当中,一些细节后续可能会有变动。在此轮课程中,麻省理工将聘用一位哲学毕业生担任课程推广,负责有效运营课程,维护课程论坛,同时审阅论文。

    对于该课程推广员的薪资,Hare拒绝透露,仅表示为固定酬劳且高于麻省理工课堂客座教师的报酬。

    如选择实名认证证书的学员人数众多,该校将安排助教协助评阅论文。Hare透露,麻省理工可能设置该课的学员人数上限,但目前尚未确定可以接收多少人。课程的首次写作任务要到本月后期才会布置。因为学员无需立即注册申请证书,校方预计直到那时才能更清楚了解学生对教师批改论文的兴趣如何。

    一旦该课程需要论文帮助,麻省理工计划由每名助教负责几名学生的论文评阅工作。Hare表示这有助于在学生和评阅人之间建立起联系。

    Hare还透露,如果该模式行之有效,将来麻省理工将聘用外校有哲学背景的学者来协助运营MOOC。

    总的来说,可选的教师论文评阅服务以及课程推广员是为了甄选更多能胜任的哲学老师,他说道。对于有些学员来说,MOOC是一次性的体验,而有些则会花钱申请认证证书,更有人甚至想通过此课程获得哲学学位。

    Hare坦言,300美元的认证证书费用对于有些学员来说仍是个障碍。但课程已在努力降低收费,使之相对面对面教学更加低廉,学生只需承担部分成本。然而,费用问题要想得到解决,少不了学校对MOOC的持续补贴,他补充道。

    “接下来还需要大量改进工作,使之更完善。但类似的尝试对于我来说十分可行,”Hare满怀信心说道。

    Humans, the Latest MOOC Feature

    One of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s most popular massive open online courses is adding a feature not seen in any of its other humanities MOOCs: instructors grading essays.

    Learners in Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness, which started on Monday, now have the option to have their essays graded and reviewed by real, flesh-and-blood philosophers — in this first case, one of MIT’s own graduate students. The goal, according to MIT, is twofold: to give learners from all over the world an introduction to basic philosophical topics and — for those who pay $300 for an identity-verified certificate — an opportunity to improve their written argumentation skills and to experiment with new employment opportunities for philosophers.

    The philosophy course, now in its third iteration, mirrors the development of MOOCs in general. When it first launched, it featured lecture videos and multiple-choice questions to test learners’ reading comprehension. The second time around, it evolved by adding peer grading, where each learner evaluates a handful of papers written by course mates.

    Teaching the MOOC has been a “marvelous experience,” said Caspar Hare, the professor of philosophy who created it. Nearly 90,000 learners signed up during the first two runs. The discussion forums buzzed with debates about religion and free will. Yet Hare said he was left “feeling you could do more” — referring to the lack of writing assignments.

    “It’s really central to the way you come to understand the field,” Hare said. “I just don’t think you can get rid of that.”

    Essay grading in MOOCs has been a tricky issue for institutions to solve. MOOCs can enroll tens of thousands of learners, which means assigning even a single essay will lead to more content than an instructor and a small army of teaching assistants can read, let alone give meaningful feedback on. EdX, the MOOC platform MIT helped found, haspiloted automated essay grading, but the technology is not there yet (not to mention that some instructors, including Hare, are highly skeptical of it).

    The model MIT is experimenting with in the philosophy MOOC keeps the automated elements already in place — lecture videos and quizzes — which are still available for free. Learners who are interested in instructor-graded writing assignments can pay to access that additional level of interaction. In most cases, only a fraction of MOOC learners opt for a certificate, making the workload much more manageable.

    “You can still achieve scale through partially automating courses, but keeping some bits of human interaction that are really important, like the interaction between you and the person you are writing a paper to,” Hare said. “There’s no automating that.”

    Hare stressed that the model is still a work in progress, and that details may change. This time around, MIT is paying one of its philosophy graduate student to serve as a course facilitator. The facilitator will effectively run the MOOC, moderating the discussion forum and grading papers. Hare declined to say how much the facilitator is paid, but added that it is a flat fee and more than what an adjunct instructor is paid to teach a residential course at MIT.

    If a large number of learners opt for the identity-verified certificate, the institute will use its own teaching assistants to help the facilitator with grading the papers. There is likely an upper limit to how many such learners the MOOC will enroll, though MIT has yet to determine how many it can accommodate, Hare said. The first writing assignment won’t take place until later this month, and since learners don’t immediately have to sign up for a certificate, the institute expects to get a clearer sense of the interest in instructor-graded writing assignments then.

    Should the MOOC require grading help, the plan is for each TA to work with a set number of learners over the course of the MOOC’s multiple writing assignments, which Hare said is intended to help them build relationships with the person to whom they are writing their essays.

    If that model proves successful, MIT could in the future hire people with philosophy backgrounds from outside the institute to run the MOOCs, Hare said.

    Together, the instructor-grading option and plans to hire facilitators are an effort to expand the base of the “funnel” of people who are able to enroll in or teach a philosophy course, Hare said. For some learners, the MOOC will be a one-off experience. Some will pay for the identity-verified certificate. A handful may even pursue a degree in philosophy as a result.

    The $300 price tag will still be a barrier to some learners, Hare said, but it is a product of trying to make the MOOC more affordable than a face-to-face course while also covering some of the costs of offering it. The price point may not work without the institute continuing to subsidize MOOCs, he added.

    “There’s going to have to be a lot of refining of the model and tinkering and trying to get it right, but something in the vicinity of this seems eminently doable to me,” Hare said.

    编译自: Humans, the Latest MOOC Feature

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/09/02/massachusetts-institute-technology-experiments-instructor-grading-massive-open

    本文编译:中教全媒体 英文记者程亚会

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