Is it a good thing that over 90% of students drop out of MOOCs?  Are MOOCs basically the Darwinization of higher education?  Are MOOCs like a Google search algorithm for filtering and sorting out the top students?  

Keith Devlin, professor at Stanford and the "Math Guy" on NPR who has taught a MOOC on math,  argues so:

"MOOC education is survival of the fittest. Every student is just one insignificant datapoint while the course is running. Do well, do poorly, struggle, drop out - no one notices. But when the MOOC algorithm calculates the final ranking, the relatively few who score near the top become very, very visible. Globally, talent recruiting is a $130BN industry (, 2.12.12). It's "Google search for people" in action."

More of his thoughts about MOOCs here: "I don’t think there is a problem at all. The drop off is just a feature of what is a very new form of human experience. Old metrics are simply not appropriate, “retention rate” being one such."

Other thoughts on the use of video in MOOCs, which he sees as unnecessary:
"the videotaped lecture is, from a learning perspective, the least important constituent of a MOOC,"

And his philosophy of teaching math (after the 8th grade level) is that it is like learning chess, a meaningless "symbol game" - you just press on and memorize the rules devoid of any real-world context:
"my thesis (advanced by others in addition to myself) that, whereas numbers and perhaps other elements of basic, K-8 mathematics are abstracted from everyday experience, more advanced parts of the subject are created and learned as rule-specified, and often initially meaningless, "symbol games." The former can be learned by the formation of a real-world-grounded chain of cognitive metaphors that at each stage provide an understanding of the new in terms of what is already familiar. The latter must be learned in much the same way we learn to play chess: first merely following the rules, with little comprehension, then, with practice, reaching a level of play where meaning and understanding emerge. (Lakoff and Nunez describe the former process in their book Where Mathematics Comes From. Most of us can recall that the latter was the way that we learned calculus - an observation that appears to run counter to - and which I think actually does refute - Lakoff and Nunez's claim that the metaphor-construction process they describe yields all of pure mathematics.)
If indeed there are these two, essentially different kinds of mathematical thinking, that must be (or at least are best) learned in very different ways, then a natural question is where, in the traditional K-university curriculum, the one ends and the other starts.“
The Darwinization of Higher Education
The Darwinization of Higher Education
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