While at the AACU (Association of American Colleges and Universities) annual meeting, I met one of the plenary speakers, José Antonio Bowen, Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, and Algur H. Meadows Chair and Professor of Music, at Southern Methodist University. He has a blog based on his book Teaching Naked (and I had an earlier blog post about that book and his ideas a few semesters ago).
He now has a blog, which I follow, and recently he had this post on MOOCS versus the face-to-face classroom, which he argues needs to be transformed into the “Massively Better Classroom.”
I agree with much of his thinking. College is expensive. A college like McDaniel is really expensive. Online courses are not going away and they do educate. And are a lot cheaper. So how to we explain why the face-to-face liberal arts model is “better.” We can’t just say “because it is” (well, we can but if a student used that argument in a class, would we say that was a persuasive argument?).
I agree that we need to show that the face to face experience is a Massively Better Classroom. We need to transform the classroom to be a place where students DO things in their learning, where they engage in the material. Worried that they don’t read the assignment for class? Bring in a small amount of text and make them grapple with it and THEN discuss it. Then send them back to do a longer reading.
And of course you know I am going to give another plug for Reacting to the Past – which is still the most engaging classroom I have managed to create – with students reading, arguing, speaking, writing and researching. You can’t beat it. You can’t do it for every class, and I’m not advocating that. But it can build significant engagement in your classes.
What are you planning to do to develop a Massively Better Classroom?