Jump Your Lane!
Michelle Alexander, in “Connect the Dots” [Sept. 23], honored Martin Luther King more forcefully than the countless TV hours devoted to his memory. What Dr. King so powerfully illustrated, and what Alexander so succinctly reminded us of, is that we are all Others within the homogenizing gaze of Power.
Michelle Alexander was moving and inspiring. The authorities pressure us to “stay in our lanes.” As Alexander says, we need to get out of our lanes and go beyond our usual responses. We need to find new, unexpected ways to challenge the mindless corporate machines that have taken over so much of our politics, our military and our media, and are devouring our earth and our lives.
Michelle Alexander on connecting mass incarceration with corrupt capitalism, drone warfare, NSA spying, & more.
Michelle Alexander rolling up her sleeves, getting ready to speak more truth to power. @mnnakamura
This is what movements are made of. @HelloAlexCL
Re Jon Wiener’s “Inside the Coursera Hype Machine” [Sept. 23]: I find that a good online course is as good as or better than a traditional lecture course. I have two courses on Coursera. My lectures are full HD multimedia experiences with high-end sound—far more interesting than a lecture. One big advantage of Coursera over iTunes is that it can deliver exams—in my case, weekly quizzes, a midterm and a final. As Wiener notes, the discussion boards are also vital, and I expect mine to be well used—but they are only as good as the discussion prompts.
As for monetizing, the holy grail is certificate or for-credit courses. Coursera is learning (with UC Irvine) how to make these courses equivalent to (or better than) traditional lecture courses. I expect Coursera will steadily raise its standards, learn by doing and emerge as a top provider of quality education products. Good courses will drive out bad ones and eventually quality will be uniformly high. My bottom line: online education works if done right, and it need not put professors out of business. Educators must be able to do more than write on blackboards or whiteboards.
See you on Coursera!
I have participated in a number of MOOCs (massive open online courses). I am currently enjoying the UC Santa Cruz course on the Holocaust that Jon Wiener mentions. For me, the great value was the lectures by Dr. Kenez and the forum about books, movies, etc., for further study. Where, if not for the MOOC, would I ever be exposed to Dr. Kenez and Dr. Baumgartner? The course has galvanized my interest.
I also participated in Larry Diamond’s Stanford course on democracy. It was the best college course I have ever attended, and I hold two master’s degrees.