JOE: You know, we want to know, what was it like? What surprised them? Would they do it again? Did they learn something about their teaching that they can bring back to their classrooms? Where's this revolution going?
These are brave souls, and so I thank them for the work that they put in, which is enormous, as I hope they won't tell you, but it is enormous. And they'll also be able to tell us a little bit about their experiences.
So I just thought it'd be useful to step back. I'm going to spend about three, four, or five minutes with an introduction. Then we'll have them speak for a little bit. I'll ask them some questions, and we'll save the last 20 minutes or half hour for questions from the floor and comments from the floor. What I'm really hoping for is really a conversation up front here.
We started out trying a meeting to organize them, and the first thing I think-- question I asked one of them, David Chernoff or something, he gave an answer. David easily said, oh, gee, I found exactly the same thing. I couldn't believe this. So they clearly are experienced, and I just think we should just basically let them run.
But I wanted to show you the context a little bit. Remember, we've had about 18 months of a lot of hype on both sides of this case. It's going to revolutionize the world. It's the worst thing that's ever happened to college teaching. And I think it is clearly somewhere in between those two cases. But let's hear from the experts, as I say.
At Cornell, we're pretty slow at getting into this game. We had a MOOC forum ourselves in the faculty about 18 months ago. Ken Fox, who's sitting over on the side here, put together a panel led by Eva Tardos in computer science to study whether or not Cornell should start a-- join a MOOC or join a consortium. That committee came back and said, yes, we should, and it should be edX subject to the following conditions.
We then joined edX just less than a year ago. The senate formed a distance learning committee. The provost solicited proposals. Within a few weeks after joining edX, those proposals were selected, and you see the winners or the losers, depending upon the way you want to choose it, appear in the front, starting last July.
And the senate came out with a distance learning report, which I encourage you to read. But most importantly, the MOOCs were put together, and they've started out live. Most of them are in the final stages of finishing up their programs. And we had another solicitation back in February. Two weeks ago, another round of MOOCs was selected, and we're going to move forward with four more shortly.
So the winners-- and you'll see the names up on the front here-- David Chernoff on the left talking about relativity and astrophysics. He's already finished up. We've got Steve Wicker in the center talking about the wiretaps to big data and the privacy issues that are associated with it, David easily representing a trio of workers, including Eva Tardos and Jon Kleinberg on networks, crowds, and markets. And then, finally, we have two representatives from "American Capitalism-- A History" at the table, both Ed Baptist and Louis Hyman.
We will end this, as I say, with questions from the floor. But then we can continue, as time permits and wine holds out for an hour or so, down the hallway and chatting with people, just asking the questions you want to know the answers to. And you know, I'm looking forward to this probably as much as you are.
We will start off, as I say, with a few comments from each of them, just as they get their speaking voice going. And then I'll ask them some questions. And we'll move from there. OK?
So do each of you want to tell me a little bit or tell us? And you know, speak to one another. I'm going to look over your shoulder probably. Maybe I'll sit down. But tell us a little bit about, in the case of your own MOOC, what motivated you to do this, and then what was the audience that you were shooting for, and what was the audience that you got? So let's start, David-- David's on both sides, so one of the Davids start, please. David Chernoff.
DAVID CHERNOFF: Well, I guess-- so my class was in relativity and astrophysics. And I was hoping to get high school students, hopefully, interesting them in Cornell and perhaps STEM fields in general-- science, technology, engineering, math. And the actual enrollment for the class was pretty concentrated at an age of about 21 with the distribution that died in both directions.
It was amazing. The students that signed up ranged from literally an 11-year-old and various elementary school kids to retired professors. So it was very diverse, and I wasn't expecting nearly as a broad swath of humanity. But the main thing is I'm proof that you can survive the process, because mine is over.
JOE: So Louis, what about yourself?
LOUIS HYMAN: Well, I made the crazy decision-- I'm an assistant professor, so I don't know why I decided to do it. But I guess mostly because I love talking about American history and the history of capitalism in America. And I saw it as an opportunity to really get a conversation going at a global level, at a national level about what that meaning of capitalism is and why it has taken the form that it has today.
And so for me, that was something I was interested in doing for more than just 21-year-olds, but a whole range of nontraditional students from around the world, as well as to sort of push American capitalism as sort of a central thing in American history. It's part of a broader thing we're doing at ILR School called the History of Capitalism Initiative. It has many other components.
And so for me, that's why I did it. And I'm really glad that I did. It's been very rewarding.
EDWARD BAPTIST: All right. Well, I don't want to repeat too much of what Louis said. For me, one of the great things, though, was to participate in the creation and synthesis of what Louis and I think of as a new field within the study of history, and that's the history of capitalism. And this was an opportunity to do it in a way that's, in a sense-- and maybe I'll talk about this later-- comparable to writing a textbook that helps to define a new field within a discipline.
So that was a great opportunity for me. It was a great opportunity to work with Louis, who was a lot of fun to work with, and as well as the crew and other people who participated in the course, which I hope we'll get more of a chance to talk about as we go forward. But I enjoyed it a lot, and I haven't survived the process yet, but I'm still alive.
STEPHEN WICKER: Thanks, Joe, for inviting us. I'd like to offer the following rebuttal to the introduction. I think definitely, I felt more like Guinea pig than expert, but I definitely enjoyed the process. It's been fantastic.
The reason I got into this was I wanted to reach out to certain groups of people, primarily policymakers and to young folks, to give them some idea of what their privacy risks were in dealing with technology and the possible changes that we could make to make privacy a little more of a personal decision rather than a corporate one.
So I think, to some extent, I succeeded. But one of the things that surprised me was the number of people in other countries that were interested in the course. I've got students from Albania, Azerbaijan, all over the world. It's been fantastic.
But probably the best part was the people I worked with. I see them sitting in the back, the support crew. Actually, they ran things. They were great. The product is much better than I could've imagined.
DAVID EASLEY: So as Joe mentioned, the MOOC that I'm doing is joint with Jon Kleinberg and Eva Tardos, and actually, Eva's here in the audience. She didn't expect to be here, but Eva, you should feel free to interrupt me whenever you want.
STEPHEN WICKER: No, come up here.
DAVID EASLEY: Or come up and join us. Our MOOC is Networks, Crowds, and Markets, and it's based on a course that we teach on campus once a year to about 500 undergrads. So we've got a lot of experience teaching the material.
It blends computer science, economics, and sociology, and it's something that we created here at Cornell. Part of the reason we wanted to offer the MOOC is that other people were teaching MOOC on our topic. I mean they were-- there are a couple of them out there that were using our book as part of their assignment.
And we feel like we should own this topic, not somebody else. That wasn't the primary reason, but that was certainly a motivating factor. I mean, we saw this as an interesting experiment, something that might benefit Cornell, and something might benefit our on-campus class, and we'll come to that later in Joe's questions.
We actually thought we would attract a lot of high school students, and I downloaded the data from edX recently, and that's not the case. We have relatively few high school students in the MOOC. The average age in our MOOC is 29. So it's significantly older than we expected. In fact, 2% of the people taking the MOOC who put in ages are 60 or older, and I actually talked to one of those people recently, who's roughly 70.
And he seemed to be enjoying the class, and he was taking it for an interesting reason. He said that for the first time he knew more about how Facebook worked and how Google worked and how the web worked than his children or grandchildren. And so he was really enjoying that opportunity and thought that, actually, the retired population was another target for MOOCs.
JOE: So I gather that each of these courses ran-- started out with 20,000, 10,000, 20,000 or something like that. The number that finishes is much less than that, but that's true because they just sign up in order to be able to see the materials. So let's switch a little bit.
I see some of the people in the audience are people who are likely to be teaching these in the future. And so I wondered if you could give some practical recommendations about how do you develop and teach your new MOOC. What are your experiences in constructing this thing? What's the support been like?
Tell us some good stuff. Tell us some bad stuff. And let's not feel any obligation whatsoever. Everybody's going to speak. Now, well, you'll get a topic and your own of some time. So we'll spend you know, 10, 15 minutes on this topic.
I'm going to go back the other way. Well, I don't want to do that, because that's going to lead to the sequential-- Ed, why don't you lead off?
EDWARD BAPTIST: Oh, OK. Happy to do that. So the first thing to say is that this is a process for us. It's a process for Cornell as well. And so we watched a lot of that evolution happening, and creating a MOOC is different from creating a regular course. It's different from writing a textbook. It is different from, I suspect, from making a movie. It's probably got some elements of all of those things in it.
And so what really made things start to work well for us was when we finally got the right crew in place, where everybody was working off their expertise. So Louis and I were coming up with content. Rob Vanderlaan, who's up there, was helping, first of all, review our intellectual content. It was great for us that he is, in fact, a historian with a PhD who has published a great book on the history of capitalism. So I don't know if you can be more fortuitous than that.
But he was also helping us to think about teaching and teaching in different kinds of environments, and, perhaps, we sort of naturally assume we're going to be teaching in, because he works with CTE. We had Colbert and Serge, who are out there somewhere-- I saw them-- taking care of the sound and the camera, and a guy named Johan, who I don't think is here today, but Johan Grimm is fantastic.
He's worked as, I think, assistant director on various Hollywood films. And he was in charge of telling us, that's a good take. That's not a good take, and keeping us on track in that way.
So once we got those pieces together, the process flowed much more smoothly. And what I would hope for anybody who is teaching one in the future is that that team or a team that's something like it is assembled from the beginning for each of you so that you can concentrate on the things that you do well and not on the things that-- and certainly, I don't know what's a good take. I don't know what's a good camera angle. I don't know that kind of thing.
JOE: Great. David Easley, you worked with a different group than academic technologies. You worked with eCornell. How did that differ?
DAVID EASLEY: Yeah, so we actually had a lot of support from eCornell when we did. We wanted to produce very high quality in terms of the video and the graphics. And I think in the end, we succeeded. But one thing we learned along the way is doing that is hard.
It's actually not hard to be taped for a MOOC. I think all of us found that to be really pretty easy. We're used to teaching, so it turns out-- I think I did two takes on the very first video I did, and after that, I did one take.
The hard thing is actually getting all the organization done, deciding exactly what you're going to teach. And for us, then, getting the graphics done exactly the way we wanted. The people at eCornell were great, but this was a new experience for all of us in terms of the target audience.
But one of the benefits to this really time-consuming process-- I'll warn anybody who wants to think about this-- and it's advice I got earlier before I started doing this from friends who had done MOOCs before. You think it's going to be time-consuming. You're wrong. It's going to be more time-consuming than that.
I got this from a computer scientist I know well, who had done a MOOC on a similar topic. He's right. It takes a lot of time. But actually, it's been, for me, I think, a big benefit.
I feel like I'm going to be a better teacher because of doing the MOOC, because when you do the MOOC, at least the way we did it-- and I think others here did, too-- we did very short videos. They're seven or eight minutes long, and that's not how we teach.
And when you teach in a seven or eight-minute segment, and you want to keep your audience sitting at a computer somewhere watching you paying attention, you really have to focus on the message you want to deliver and make it sharp, and get it done quickly. And actually, I think that's going to carry over on campus in terms of how I teach in the future. So I actually learned a lot that I didn't expect to learn.
JOE: So Steve, what were the unpleasantnesses that you experienced?
STEPHEN WICKER: Well, I was actually going to focus on the positive.
JOE: We've had too much sunshine up here in the front.
STEPHEN WICKER: Sorry about that. Well, I'll get there, then. The one thing I do want to note, I've got a friend at Stanford who runs their program. And he says, it's great. I can get people to do a MOOC once. I can't get them to do it twice. I think the folks here did it exactly the right way. I think it was far easier for us than it's been on others in other schools, because, again, the staff is so superb. They were very helpful.
If you're interested in doing a MOOC, listen to the staff. They know what they're doing. It's been very positive. The one thing I would add, though, in terms of things I've learned, keep it simple. Don't try and get too complicated with what you're conveying, with how you're doing things using new [AUDIO OUT] know how to do it. Keep it simple, and keep your points concise.
It is quite a diverse audience. I have students who can barely-- English is their second, third, or fourth language. And so they're really working hard just to get the basics. And I want to be able to meet them there. At the same time, I want it to be interesting for the folks in Washington, who've been listening to the course. So it's hard. So that's one of the main issues-- meeting your audience halfway.
JOE: So Louis, do you have any comments on what other people have said?
LOUIS HYMAN: I just want to back it up. I feel like we finally-- by about halfway through the process, we got the team that we needed. And it was really hard to-- I think we were just figuring it out as we went along. So figuring out what we needed in terms of someone in charge of the video, someone in charge of the sound, someone in charge of directing.
And I think that process has been worked out. But as long as people are within the roles that they are qualified to be in and have the skill set they needed, then everything works fine. And as soon as people try to step outside those roles, things go wrong very quickly.
But we recovered from all that, and it was-- once we got that process down, which I think it definitely is now-- I don't think it'll happen again.
JOE: Dave, do you expect to modify your MOOC and do it another time?
DAVID CHERNOFF: Well--
JOE: Or use it in your own classes?
DAVID CHERNOFF: Yeah, I certainly made plenty of mistakes that will require modification, if it's ever offered again. I mean one thing I was going to say is that I discovered how many different hats you have to wear during the production of the MOOC. And I don't think I was prepared for preparing the content, preparing the questions, interacting on the bulletin or discussion boards, managing TAs and so forth.
I think it was much more complicated than I had originally imagined. But you know, I think you invest a lot of time and effort in one of these, and incremental changes are possible that could make it much better a second time around. So I don't know if I'm answering your question fully, but yeah, I would have a very positive experience based on the outcomes of people who passed the class and their comments.
There are certainly a range of criticisms and compliments that accrue during the period of the MOOC, and I guess you have to also make sure that you don't take anything too sensitively, because there's a whole range of maturities and levels of expectation amongst the students.
JOE: Did others find that as well, this range of expectations and-- please, Louis.
LOUIS HYMAN: I think Ed and I have been stunned by how serious people are about the MOOC, that we have, right now, about I guess 3,000 to 4,000 people arguing about slavery and capitalism in the 19th century. And they're engaging with it in such a serious fashion.
Obviously, people vary in their their background in American history, their background to engage in these complex questions. But you know, for us, whatever-- how hard it was to make the MOOC, for us, it's been incredibly rewarding seeing those conversations going on online and spilling over into other parts of the internet. I know, Ed, if you--
EDWARD BAPTIST: I'm not sure I can do much more than repeat that and to kind of ratify what everybody else said about how interesting it is to have an international audience and the different perspectives they bring, the different experiences they bring.
JOE: I guess especially in your course.
EDWARD BAPTIST: Yeah. I mean we had, when we did the first sort of check-in in the first week, where we asked people to introduce themselves, I mean there is a class of 20 people from Spain, from a small city in Spain, who are taking the course together, and lots of Brazilians, which is very interesting, because they have their own history of capitalism in Brazil, obviously. And I teach slavery, and their own history and historiography of slavery in Brazil. And we could just go on like that.
But that's great. It's hard for me to imagine a context in which I would have those conversations with such a wide-ranging group of people. I mean, obviously, at a professional conference, but this is a sort of an ongoing kind of--
JOE: And were the students able to interact with one another?
EDWARD BAPTIST: Yeah. Oh, they're arguing with each other. They don't agree with each other.
LOUIS HYMAN: Yeah, they're across the political-- as you can imagine, there's some politics involved in the history of capitalism. So we start off with like Adam Smith, and people argue, like capitalism is tyrannical. Capitalism is the ultimate freedom. And it goes on from there. It's so much fun to see this conversation.
JOE: So, David Easley, in a conversation you were having with David Chernoff, you talked about the seriousness of your students. Could you compare that to the seriousness of Cornell students?
DAVID EASLEY: Yeah, actually, so David and I were talking about this in Joe's office last week. We had, I think, a very similar experience. The students in a MOOC, who remember, are doing this for free, are really serious about their grades. And it's not like there's any verification, in fact, of who's actually doing those problems.
But if there's any problem that's unclear, or if there happens to be a mistake-- and, of course, there are going to be mistakes. This is the first time offering some of the technical, some of the ones that we made. If you think of these trivial little things and what you say in the lecture, they jump in quickly and really get unhappy if they think that they didn't get a problem right, because you weren't as clear as you should have been.
They're actually more aggressive about this than Cornell undergrads are.
JOE: And they're not paying $50,000 a year.
DAVID EASLEY: Yes. It was really surprising. Now you have to be careful about this, though, because there's a lot of people signed up for these classes. And it doesn't take a large percentage of those people to generate 100 complaints.
So you know, I don't want to overdo this, but there is a substantial number of people, at least in our class and I think in David's as well, who actually were, And. Sometimes correctly, other times incorrectly, pointing out difficulties. So it was interesting that there were a group of people who are very serious about what they're doing.
DAVID CHERNOFF: And I would just follow up also. In my class, the last two weeks of the class were supposed to be advanced material, where I wasn't going to give them questions that counted toward the certificate. I thought I was doing them a favor.
I thought my Cornell undergraduates would appreciate this. This group actually-- there were people who were unhappy, because I didn't give them the questions that they could use to check their own understanding of the material.
And you know, it's a level of interest that's very high, that they really want the self-assessment that the questions offer. So it was-- it was a surprise. And I have to say, before I got into this, I didn't imagine most of the students would take the questions very seriously. I didn't imagine that a certificate had meaning to them.
And the people I worked with fall semester were telling me, you need more questions. And I was like, oh, no, maybe not. But they were right. They were definitely right.
JOE: Steve, what was your experience like?
STEPHEN WICKER: Virtually the same. I'd simply like to add that the recommendation that I tie my questions to the content-- I'm looking at the person who recommended that-- very much the case. When I deviated, when my questions became too complex, drifted from the material that I was presenting, they were all over me. They were very serious about it. And they're definitely paying attention.
JOE: Cool. So do you think this-- how is this going to change your teaching of courses here?
STEPHEN WICKER: I think I'll take my testing much more seriously. I took it seriously before, but I'll definitely pay attention to questions, see who's responding and who's not, and see how well I can tie it to the material. It's a learning process for sure.
JOE: Others, going to change your teaching in any way? David, you said I think.
DAVID EASLEY: Yeah, I mean I think it's going to have some incremental changes. And with this course, in particular, probably big changes. I mean the incremental changes are just that I've actually had to focus in the MOOC on exactly what I was trying to accomplish every minute I was speaking.
And I don't do that in lecture. I have for my undergrads 50 minutes, or for my grad students, 75 minutes. And I spend a lot of time talking and repeating myself.
In the MOOC, you don't do that, and I think you do want to repeat yourself for an in-person lecture, because they can't replay it. But I learned a lot about focusing, and I think I'm going to do that more in the future. And I think, although we haven't decided this for sure yet, that we're going to make heavy use of the MOOC the next time we teach the course on campus next fall.
JOE: So how would you do that?
DAVID EASLEY: So I'll give you my ideas with a caveat that Jon and Eva and I have talked about this. We haven't made definite decisions. I would actually like to assign the students the MOOC and have them to watch the videos in place of some of the other things I was doing, because I don't want to change the workload too much, and use more of the class time interactively.
We use iClickers in class now, and I would like to use them much more. So use a lot of the class time to ask them questions, have them answer with the clickers.
And what we've been doing is also having questions where we progress to questions that are challenging for most students or at least a majority of the students miss the question. And then we break and say, you've got three minutes to talk to your neighbors and try to persuade each other the answer.
And then we ask it again. And the second time around, most people get it. And the students seem to really enjoy this, and I think, although I don't really have hard evidence, that they're learning a lot from this.
My plan is to do that far more in the future.
LOUIS HYMAN: Ed and I have been talking about how to use this to flip the classroom, which is, of course, what everyone is talking about. How do you use this to offload that lecture content? At least in the humanities, there's, from our perspective, very little value to us ranting at people. There's value at talking about text. There's value in that really close interaction with students in the seminar format.
And I think that's what we would like to do going forward, trying to figure out how to run seminars, where we actually talk about books and talk about reading texts in class, rather than spend that time we're delivering content and sort of trying to figure out. We haven't set any plans out to do that, because for us, this was a synthesis of all the classes we teach rather than one particular class. So we're still trying to figure out how to do that.
But it's something that we'd like to do going forward. And I have assigned parts of the MOOC, because it's all on YouTube, right? I've assigned parts of it for students who miss a lecture. I say, look, I cover a lot of these materials on these YouTube videos here for various holidays, things like that.
JOE: One of the very contentious things that came up in this distance learning committee-- and I'm sure Laura will agree with me-- was the claim by some members of the committee that to teach a humanities course was almost impossible via this mechanism.
Do you see-- and you used humanities, so let me come back to you. Do you think that-- I mean they just said you need much more elongated, deliberate discussion of reading the text and going-- you can't do it in seven-minute segments. You need two-hour seminars or something.
EDWARD BAPTIST: Yeah, I did wonder about that at the beginning. And maybe it's different for history, where one of the things you're always trying to do is to put together a historical narrative. Of course, you're always tearing them apart and building new ones.
But I think it's actually worked out, because I think the students in the discussions are doing the work of picking apart our narratives and using some of the sources we've assigned for them to read-- historical texts or people writing-- historians writing about history as well, to really think critically about their own ideas about history, except in narratives about history, our stories about history.
So I see it happening in the discussion boards. Is it the same thing as watching that play out in a seminar or doing what Louis is suggesting-- flipping the classroom and really focusing your class time on that? Well, no, it's not, because I think the immediacy of in-person learning is always going to be superior in a lot of ways. And I do think that image of the classroom is better than just me ranting at people.
But what I see in the discussion boards gives me hope that you can use this format of content delivery in order to help jump start those kind of discussions in a classroom.
LOUIS HYMAN: Can I just add to that real fast? One of the things we've also been talking a lot-- Ed and I have been talking a lot about is that although the MOOC format is nice online, it's better offline. That-- so right now, in Takoma Park in Maryland, there is a group that meets on Sundays to discuss our MOOC.
So if you think of MOOCs less as alternatives to the classroom or as a 21st century book club, then it's actually kind of an amazing thing that they can watch these videos, take the class, gather together, and argue about history. For me, it's a beautiful thing.
And to facilitate that, so if you move away from this conversation of credentialist or not credential or is it a classroom, is it not a classroom? Well, the book club didn't replace an English seminar. A book club is a way, for most people, to read books. So most people read books in groups together in America. It's not in universities. So for us, we would-- we've been trying to promote this idea to our students.
While it's great to come online, but its' better to get friends together offline from your workplace or your church or your neighborhood, and use those real life groups to have conversations about online MOOCs. And we think that's a real possibility going forward as we move away from this, what seems to be sort of a bad substitute for universities and more think about something else.
JOE: Let me switch topics a little bit. I wonder whether the-- you two mentioned the international audience made your discussions more interesting. And the people in the more technical fields, do you see the same thing, that there's a difference between the student bodies that you attracted online versus what you might get here at Cornell, and you could benefit from that? Or was it just the same stuff?
DAVID CHERNOFF: Well, for my class, there were definitely many foreign students. You could tell from the discussion boards English wasn't a native language for many of the people. But I think since it was technical, they were able to actually communicate fairly well. And the reach of the class was much further worldwide than I had ever imagined it would be.
I think that these science classes lend themselves to sort of an international sort of audience. To return to a previous point, we don't have the equivalent of problem sets solved for technical fields. That's clear. When I give a class in astronomy or physics, an important part is to have students solve problems and have them graded by someone who can understand what's right or wrong, even if there's a dozen different ways to solve the problem.
There's no analog yet in the MOOC platform that allows that. In other words, I couldn't assign problems in the same way I would in a Cornell class. And the students didn't benefit from that aspect of a normal science class.
On the other hand, what I will say is the discussion boards were amazingly effective. When people got something wrong, other students would really help them learn what it was-- the mistake, or if I've been unclear in a lecture, other students were clearing it up for their peers. So that was very gratifying to see that work as well. I hadn't thought that it would, but it really did.
JOE: Steve, what have your experience been in this area?
STEPHEN WICKER: I would agree. There is definitely a limitation. Typically, when I teach my Wiretaps to Facebook course to freshmen, I teach them encryption, RSA encryption, in particular, and we do some serious mathematics that I wasn't able to get to in this course.
And I think part of the problem is, you know, it's really hard to say yes or no, right or wrong when you're doing a mathematical exercise. You want to be able to get in and say, well, you've got this halfway. You're doing well. Here's where you lost track of what was going on.
And it's very difficult to do with 14,000 students. You know, there are some limitations to this approach. The material I did teach I felt like I was able to cover well, but some of the details in particular, the technical details, I definitely had to leave them out.
JOE: And how did you make use of a teaching assistant or online help and stuff like that? I mean that sounds to me like it's impossible.
STEPHEN WICKER: They were fantastic, by the way. The discussion boards went really well. We had a lot of discussion going on on many different topics. I think I benefited a great deal from the NSA, because we got a new gift every week--
So sometimes the students would beat me to it. They had it posted on the discussion board before I could get there, because they're in a different time zone. But you know, the discussions were going on, and the TAs mediated that. And they sometimes would step in and say, well, you're a little off track. You know, let's look over here.
And so I was able, then, to basically look at certain key topics without watching 14,000 students talk. So it went very well.
JOE: You said TAs, Steve. David?
DAVID EASLEY: Yeah, we were actually using-- I think it's five TAs, all of whom were TAs in our undergrad class on campus. And our TAs have been great. One of the things I've definitely learned is that doing this without TAs would be just impossible, because those discussion boards are really active.
And even though the three of us in our MOOC are actually all involved in the discussion board a little bit, it's very important to have people who are out there a lot, because the students interact with each other. But they expect someone to come in and actually answer the questions. And there's a lot of people asking questions, so the TAs, I think, are indispensable. I wouldn't do it without TA support.
JOE: You had five. I mean that's a lot.
DAVID EASLEY: We had five, but only working a very limited number of hours each, just tried to spread the hours throughout the week so that there would frequently be somebody on.
JOE: What do you think their experiences were like? They liking it or thought it was onerous?
DAVID EASLEY: I haven't actually talked to them that much, because this is all being done remotely. I mean, these are people who came for us before. So they're used to answering questions. And the questions we ask are essentially the same ones we ask in the undergrad class on campus. A lot of them are technical, but we just converted them into fill in the blank or multiple choice questions, which is not ideal. But you know, it was the best we could do.
We actually had an ambition to do peer grading and have more complex things. But we were warned that the platform was really not up to doing serious peer learning yet, so we weren't able to do it. So in the future, that would be an interesting thing to try.
JOE: Yes, sure.
STEPHEN WICKER: One thing, we recruited community TAs from amongst our students so that we had-- my course had the TAs that we originally employed, but then we had community TAs amongst the students who performed, you know--
JOE: Could you explain what are community TAs?
STEPHEN WICKER: Basically, very interested and very involved students who would help mediate the discussions.
JOE: On Cornell campus?
STEPHEN WICKER: Exactly. They-- actually, they were all over the world. So they helped us out by answering some of the students' questions, again, before we could get to them. So it's been very helpful, and they were all quite willing. As long as it didn't take too much effort, they all made that point that they were still quite willing to help. So it was great.
JOE: Does anyone else plan to flip the classroom in some way or whatever that means? Yeah, go, David.
DAVID CHERNOFF: I guess this gets back to, what would the MOOC do for you on campus? And in my case, I'm teaching this semester the 14-week version of the MOOC to Cornell students. And so I assigned sections of the MOOC to them to read along with the textbook. And that was partially out of necessity, because the book went out of print. And so the MOOC actually substituted, to some extent, for the normal written material that I would have assigned for the class.
What I didn't get a chance to do was flip the classroom. I was too busy trying to prepare the content for the MOOC and actually give the normal lectures to the Cornell students that actually engage in anything so revolutionary as having them answering questions in the class as opposed to me lecturing. But it's something I'll try in the future.
EDWARD BAPTIST: So in my vision of the future, this is what the MOOC does. The internet entrepreneurs and these guys who have a billion dollars, so they think they know everything, and they say, the MOOC is going to replace universities. You should trust me, because I made a billion dollars. They've done a great disservice to the process of using digital and online possibilities for teaching.
I think the way we should really think about MOOCs is not as a replacement for the classroom, but as a really great set of possibilities for delivering content and for delivering content in a way that we can control, because we know our students are out there getting content from the internet willy-nilly. And we're even doing that sometimes to pull together lectures and things like that.
But in this sense, the MOOC, I think, could replace textbooks just the way that textbooks, in some ways, replace certain kinds of lectures over time. It used to be that if you wanted to know what Carl Becker thought about history, you had to come to Cornell and sit in on his lectures. But then Carl Becker wrote a textbook, so if you were teaching somewhere else, you could assign Carl Becker's textbook.
But now we could use the MOOC to replace that kind of textbook, which would incidentally save our students a lot of money. And I think that is the future or one of the futures for the MOOC. It's making it possible to deliver content in multiple ways outside of the classroom in order to make better discussions, better working of problems. That's to make all of these things possible in the classroom, where in-person teaching can really happen in, I think, a much more effective and rich way.
LOUIS HYMAN: Just very briefly, I also think that it's something that's good for Cornell. So I was just talking about-- with a high school teacher in Boston about the MOOC. And of course, all the videos from the MOOC on YouTube, and she said, well, can I just use these videos on YouTube for my history classes? I was like, yeah, you can.
So you know, she's able to, then, sort of-- and every time the students in the class see the videos, it only increases the quality for education for her-- for hr classes, getting into more dense material, but also that it puts Cornell front and center for every AP history class in America. That would be an amazing transformation for Cornell, and I imagine for AP Physics and other kinds of-- I don't know-- AP wiretapping.
LOUIS HYMAN: So whatever that would be, but I would imagine something along those lines. It's something that is worth thinking about as we go forward in this.
JOE: So you're sort of answering this question already, I think, but do you think Cornell should continue to offer MOOCs? And if so, what things should be changed in the way they're supported?
DAVID EASLEY: I'll start. But yes, I think it was a good experiment. I think we should continue to do it. I think there's a real value for Cornell in this, and it's actually what was just mentioned. It's great advertising for Cornell.
And if you think about it that way, it probably suggests that we should do a much better job of marketing what we're doing and think about who the target audience is and actually market to that audience. I mean there was some marketing, but as far as I can tell, not a lot. And I think we could do a much better job on that.
STEPHEN WICKER: I completely agree with what David said. And the only thing I would add is the MOOCs aren't to replace classroom activity. I think they're a supplement, and if we can reach out and be heard in other classrooms across the country, then it's a great outreach effort. This is what Cornell should be doing. I think it's a fantastic idea.
Again, not a replacement activity, but a supplementary activity. And you know, it'll just spread the message, whatever we're doing in our classrooms, whatever it may be, our voices will be heard by more people. That's always a good thing.
EDWARD BAPTIST: I agree.
JOE: Good. What sort of mix can you imagine there being? MOOCs are, you know, a full course of a certain type-- what other things should Cornell be doing in this realm? How do you expect higher education to change in the future because of the opportunities?
EDWARD BAPTIST: Oh, OK.
JOE: You can pontificate if you want.
EDWARD BAPTIST: I wanted to do the first question.
JOE: OK, you choose.
EDWARD BAPTIST: So I think we should think about ways to make it easier for teachers at other colleges, universities, or high schools or other settings to either take the package of a MOOC and localize it for their own classroom to make it easier for them to use it as a supplement, or to just use parts of it. And again, I'm going back, in some ways, to the textbook analogy.
But if you can imagine an app that's-- you know, your wiretaps course, that allows a teacher to download the content for use, assigning it to their students outside the classroom, and maybe it comes along with some discussion boards that are just for their students but maybe have a sort of a portal to a wider set of discussions about wiretapping.
I mean, this would be a way for people to really make the MOOC their own in their own classrooms, which I think would be great.
LOUIS HYMAN: And just getting back to the promotion issue, I think there is a real opportunity here to partner with people that we don't normally think of like the AARP. I think-- or various kinds of professional associations so that all the AP physics teachers knew that you could do the special relativity course. It'd be kind of great to have that. And I think that is something-- I feel like the production side was well thought through, and the promotion side was very last minute.
And I think we were surprised by how much that was necessary, because edX is not very good at it. So I think thinking through how we can partner and improve American education and global education through this, I think it's a real opportunity for Cornell to just be a leader in this regard, because I don't think the other universities are doing it.
DAVID CHERNOFF: So I'll just say one other thing, which is that some of the capabilities for other professors and other students to take advantage of your MOOC material is already-- exists. You can download an editor from edX, which will edit the full content of your MOOC, and you can update it. And if you want, you can pass it out to other people who can do the same thing.
So it's already possible for them to take your MOOC and make it their own, if they're willing to do some work.
JOE: So, you know, I mean I'm about to sign up to do one of these things. You've got me so goosed up here. What are the warnings you'd give me? Why shouldn't I do it? Is there any reason? I mean-- well, me, because I'll have a heart attack. But beyond that, I mean--
DAVID CHERNOFF: Do you want to see any movies in the next six months?
JOE: No, but I mean there are people out here who presumably are considering doing something like this. What should they-- what problems might they not see at this time?
STEPHEN WICKER: I think the one thing I would point out is it's going to change your teaching style. In other words, we're not going to be focused on 55-minute chunks. We're now focused on nine-minute chunks, getting one or two good points across.
And that may be a good thing, but it does require effort. It does require more time for preparation. And it takes a lot of time to get a significant amount of video put aside and ready to go.
I was surprised by how much time it took. The first semester-- it's definitely more survivable the second semester when it's running.
JOE: So before we just-- I want to go around and give everybody a minute or something to say what was the most exciting thing you found, the greatest insight. But before that, Laura came. She had some announcements she wanted to make about the future, right? And then we'll go to questions at the end of the panel.
LAURA: Sure, yeah, that sounds like a good idea. We want to take advantage of what the group has almost unanimously expressed, which is the impact on their teaching on campus of the experience in designing and creating these MOOCs. And I like the range of ways in which our MOOC instructors have expressed this impact and the translatability of the MOOC experience to especially student-centered learning, because that's the best practice going forward for pedagogical innovation. We're committed to supporting student-centered learning on campus.
So the Center for Teaching Excellence does have a plan to follow up in the coming year-- it's too late this year-- with a series of workshops on opportunities where we will draw upon some of our experts and also some of our new MOOC creators and the staff and academic technologies and the teaching center to either help you-- help interested faculty members consider and think about how they might be involved in creating an online course or an online module, but also-- so focused on being effective instructors in the online context-- but also ways of translating the online opportunities into other on-campus student-centered learning opportunities and absorbing the lessons here into an ongoing effort to shape our progress towards flipping the classroom and toward creating more student-centered opportunities.
So the CTE does have-- I don't know if you brought any of those, Theresa. Yes. We'll pass around a little list of the-- just so that you can glance at it, and then set it aside until September. But we do have a series of workshops designed for you all and others who might take an interest.
JOE: So what's your closing statement, David?
DAVID EASLEY: So for people who are thinking about doing MOOCs, let me come back to one of the first things I said. It's going to take a lot of time, and for me, it was worth it. But it really is a lot of effort. And the creation, the taping, the creating problem sets, the organization-- lots of things go wrong along the way. And you have to fix them. In fact I spent an hour or two today doing some editing for materials getting released next week. And I thought we were done with that, and it's just never done.
But you know, it's been, overall, a good experience. I'm not as optimistic as I think the rest of the group here is about what this means for the university as a whole. I just don't know yet. I mean I don't think we have any idea of how these are going to change higher education. I think it might actually have a big impact, not MOOCs as they currently exist, but it's what they might evolve into. But I think it's something Cornell ought to be part of just for the learning purpose, if nothing else.
STEPHEN WICKER: I won't repeat myself. I'll simply say it has been a fantastic experience. It was an opportunity to share some of my own research and that of others in the field of privacy with 14,000 students. And you just don't get that opportunity very often. It was fantastic.
EDWARD BAPTIST: I would say, be prepared for some controversy. MOOCs have been controversial. I had people unfriend me on Facebook, because I was teaching one. I had lots of complaints, and eventually, Louis and I started to joke about the way we were destroying not only higher education, but, perhaps, Western civilization as a whole by teaching this MOOC.
And since we were teaching it in the history of capitalism, people seemed to think we were making a lot of money, which also is not something that you should anticipate happening, unless MOOCs evolve in some other way, as David was suggesting. But at the same time, it's been a lot of fun.
LOUIS HYMAN: Obviously, I should have done this after I got my tenure letters, but it's-- you know, mistakes were made. But I think the best test for me and Ed is that we can't wait to do it again next fall. We can't-- we've talked to Ted Dodds about running it again, you know, basically every semester.
We love doing it, and we've put-- the big work was making it, and now we should just amortize that over time. So it makes sense to us to run it again and tweak it and make it better and build on it and add bells and whistles as it becomes possible.
But to really use it as a way to reach out again and again to the world, and we're looking forward to doing it. And we're just so happy with the opportunity to do it and the possibility of doing it again in the future.
DAVID CHERNOFF: Well, I think it's a very important experiment to be involved in. And I think everyone has their different strategies for making the connections with the students and making an effective MOOC. And I think we don't know what the best approach is or if there even is a best approach.
But I think, you know, now's the time to try lots of different possible ones and see which ones bear the most fruit. And I'm happy that I participated in this. And hopefully, I'll be able to make some corrections to the next version.
JOE: That's great. Well, let's thank these folks [INAUDIBLE].
Just to remind you, these were announced two weeks ago, but there are four new selections, The Ethics of Eating by two folks in philosophy, Civic Ecology-- Finding Meaning in City Life by Marianne Krasny up in natural resources, Introduction to Global Hospitality Management, three professors and a lecturer over in the hotel school, and Computer Systems from Smartphones to Supercomputers by David Albonesi.
But let's-- presumably, this discussion has generated some questions on your part. Please ask them. And if you want, just head right down. There's going to be some wine and cheese down in the entryway there. Yes, please, in the back.
AUDIENCE: I'm interested to hear a little more about the [INAUDIBLE]. Hello? There we go. Sorry about that. I'm interested to hear a little bit more about the amount of direct facilitation that each of you involved in or not, while the class is running. I think, David, you had mentioned that you did get involved in some of it-- did not. Can you comment on that about how far [INAUDIBLE] how much involvement you guys had with the actual students that are in the discussion boards [INAUDIBLE].
STEPHEN WICKER: Well, there is definitely a lot of data, at least week to week activity. I monitor the questions, how students are responding to them, see what's working, what's not working. There are discussion boards that are ongoing, so there's a definite sense of what students are interested in, how much they're enjoying it, whether or not they're happy. And then I review all the questions that I'm going to ask for the next week and change them based on what I've learned from the previous weeks.
So it's not quite the same as teaching a regular class, but you are definitely involved. So there is a fair amount of work.
JOE: Anyone want to add to that on the panel?
DAVID EASLEY: Yeah, so I'll add a little bit to that. So what we did is we all actually watched the discussion board and answered questions occasionally. But what we did more than that was to have our TAs forward to us any question that seemed like it was particularly contentious or where the answer wasn't obvious, and we needed help. And then we would either tell the TA how to answer the question or step in and answer ourselves.
But I did not try to read every post on that discussion board. There wouldn't have been time to do that.
EDWARD BAPTIST: But you know, people say, well, only 10% of students in a MOOC participate actively. Well, if you have 11,000, that's a lot of people participating actively. And I think that as time goes on, the percentage will get a little higher. So you can't do this without a team. And I really-- I feel for you and for you, because they did-- they did their MOOCs by themselves.
You know, Louis and I were able to trade off, and we continue to be able to trade off when one of us has a really rough week because of other stuff. The other one has generally been able to just step up their participation in the different aspects of the course. And beyond that, the TAs, the broader staff-- you can't do this without a team of some sort.
JOE: Another question.
DAVID CHERNOFF: Well, let me just correct a misunderstanding. I spent, actually, very little time on the discussion boards, because I was so busy with other things, preparing week by week for the class. So it was the TA and Patrice, who actually spent most of the time going through the students' questions and sending me a summary of what was a fire that needed to be put out.
So if I do this again, I would have much more contact with the discussion boards. I feel that was a particular failing of my particular MOOC, that I did not have more contact.
JOE: So often, in teaching, you know, you realize the day afterwards or over the weekend that you were unclear about something. Is there an opportunity to go back and clarify it to the whole 14,000 students? Or is it pretty much set in stone as you're running forward?
DAVID CHERNOFF: Well, I can say that part of what I was doing each week was posting corrections, going in, fixing typos, and also-- well, I really, you know, said something incorrect at this point in the lecture. And this does remind me that I think it's very useful to have multiple experts creating these so that at least one other person can be double checking the mistakes we make.
I mean it's a little embarrassing to realize how often you misspeak, because when you really go through the video the week before it gets reviewed, and you realize, oh, no, I had just mislabeled something. I divided instead of multiplied. If there'd been another expert on site, I think those could have been cleared up more quickly.
So I think for people considering doing MOOCs, you probably want at least a grad student or TA sort of watching over your shoulder. And probably, it's best to have two professors.
LOUIS HYMAN: It was great.
EDWARD BAPTIST: And we had Rob as well.
LOUIS HYMAN: Rob, Rob.
EDWARD BAPTIST: Who is still mad at us about not saying enough about the progressive era.
LOUIS HYMAN: Yeah.
EDWARD BAPTIST: We know what we said.
JOE: Andre, please identify yourself.
ANDRE KESSLER: I'm Andre Kessler, College of Evolution. I have two very related questions. One, I assume that all of you have done only one so far. Are you expecting the workload to be the same for the second round, or are you using most of what you had created already in the second round of the course? So are you expecting that workload to be much lower the second time around? And the other one is-- it's a practical question-- how do you finance the TAs?
LOUIS HYMAN: I would never do that again. So I mean I think we might do the occasional switch here and there, but it's going to basically be the same course with the sort of-- the real time commitment is in the video-making. And I can't imagine a world where we do that again. It's great once, and I feel for actual actors. I'm not an actor.
STEPHEN WICKER: My course was slightly different. As I mentioned before, the material continues to accumulate. And so I would love to do it again. I would have to change a small number of the videos. But I wouldn't think that more than about 10% to 20% would have to be changed. So again, I would be advertising my efforts, as it was put, a great way to put it. I'll lean on what I've done in the past.
EDWARD BAPTIST: We hope we don't have another financial crisis to do a segment about. Nobody wants that.
DAVID EASLEY: So I'm sure we'll do the networks MOOC again that we created, just because, again, all this work to only show once doesn't really make sense to me. And there'll be some modifications, but if we're thinking about doing another one, a completely new one, I haven't survived this one yet. So I'm not ready to do that. But it will be a long time, because it's a lot of work.
JOE: In the back, Shami.
SHAMI: So a quick follow-up to that.
JOE: Identify yourself, please.
SHAMI: Oh, I'm Shami. I'm from the astronomy department. Quick follow-up to what you just said. How easy is it to go back and just edit a little segment of your lecture? Like how much control do you have in practice over that?
STEPHEN WICKER: One of the benefits of the way the MOOC has been designed, all of our MOOCs were designed, is that they do operate in short segments of seven to nine minutes. And so when I'm talking about changing a few segments, I'm talking about some seven to nine-minute chunks. I don't think it would be that difficult. Of course, I'm saying that with zero experience.
MARIANNE KRASNY: So when I'm not--
JOE: Could you identify yourself, please?
MARIANNE KRASNY: I'm Marianne Krasny in natural resources. I'm not sure that the second question that the gentleman here had about the TAs and how you managed to get multiple TAs was addressed. But my question is about, how do you manage when there's dissension, this negative feedback? Because I can really see it going totally viral and derailing a lot of the interactions that you wanted to happen and the learning potential.
LAURA: Let me just say about the support, the TA support, the grant does provide the departments with funds to support a TA. And so I think all these MOOCs were supported through funding from the grant that enabled them to have a TA to support the development of the MOOC and some additional support for the running of the MOOC. But go ahead and answer the viral question.
DAVID EASLEY: So we, in the MOOC that I'm doing we actually didn't have much of that. We've had a very small number of inappropriate posts, and what we've done is just deleted them and left it at that. And that seems to be working.
EDWARD BAPTIST: I thought you were talking about when-- the times when Louis and I disagree.
LOUIS HYMAN: Ed wins. But yeah, I think we've been, at least our class so far-- it's about halfway through. We've been very fortunate. We haven't had massive dissension. You think that people would go crazy on a topic like this, and actually, they've been very civilized, very serious. They say, oh, I disagree with you on this point, this point, and that point. And I think the dissension really comes-- I think what you're talking to is critiques of the professors or the structure itself.
And for the most part, people say, I don't like this question. You change it. It's fine. So far, it hasn't gone off the rails. But I've heard about MOOCs going off the rails in other places.
DAVID CHERNOFF: Well, my experience was that when we first started, we were immediately compared to other MOOCs the students had taken. So these students would sometimes start by saying, well, I've taken three other MOOCs, and none of them did it this particular way. And you know, I think the ones who are really disgusted left. But most of them responded very positively when we made changes mid-course that addressed concerns.
So in one case, we had many problems packaged together. We could only answer them all at once. You couldn't get the first one wrong, and then learn how to get the next four right. And that was a design problem that we had. And they pounced on it. They were very critical. And when we were able to make that change in subsequent sections, the relief, the goodwill that came back was-- you could feel it through the internet. It was great.
So I think they often do have valid points, and if you can address them, you actually get a lot of goodwill.
STEPHEN WICKER: And I think one of the key elements was to address them quickly. I had two TAs monitoring the discussion boards virtually 24 hours a day, and we responded very quickly to complaints. And I think that made them feel that they were being listened to, and there were things that we could address pretty easily as well, the structure of questions and those sorts of things. And nothing went viral, thank goodness.
PAUL VELLEMAN: Paul Velleman in ILR and statistics. I have a pedagogical design question. To what extent are the lessons you're presenting talking heads of you talking to the camera, and to what extent are you showing other things while you speak-- graphs, equations, pictures, other materials? And what do you think works? How do you balance that? What do you think is the right way to do that? I'm sure it differs from subject to subject, but I'm curious what you were doing.
DAVID EASLEY: I'll start again. So for the MOOC that we did, I mean we did a mix. Certainly, more than half of the time, the students are seeing graphics, sometimes beside one of us talking. Other times, the graphics were complicated enough that it had to take up the whole screen. So we actually thought about how to do it for every little segment. And we had a lot of help from people at eCornell on how to do this.
I mean, it wasn't always smooth, but we did a blend of the two, as much as you would do in the classroom. There are times when I'm talking, and I want the students to pay attention to me. There are times that I want them to see what's up on the overhead.
STEPHEN WICKER: I did spend some time at a whiteboard, and I found that was very effective. From the feedback we saw on the discussion boards, they enjoyed that. And so I think it is a good idea to avoid the talking head thing, you know, throughout the course. If you could stand up, show you have legs, et cetera, that's a good thing. And it worked well.
LOUIS HYMAN: I think we could have done more with close readings of texts. I mean I know it's not data, but in my actual lectures, I do spend a lot of time looking at a document, explaining it, thinking through the meetings, and something that it just turned out didn't work out. There were a lot of ideas we had that just to get through it, we had to scrap. But I think, you know, also history lends itself just to telling stories. So I think that's part of what we did. But you know, ideally, that would be something where we could go-- improve on going forward.
JOE: Yeah. Let's move on to another question. Up front, and then we'll go to you in the back row.
ASHIM DATTA: Ashim Datta, biological engineering. I'm curious about the modular nature of things. We talked about repurposing these, that we-- you said we download, and we take some of the modules and use it in other contexts. And how easy is it to sort of take chunks of it, and then repurpose it for something else?
DAVID CHERNOFF: Well, I guess-- I'm pretty much a novice at this, but when my MOOC was over, I went to the edX site and read about their offerings. And you can essentially download a virtual machine, which runs their software in a well-controlled environment. And it's a what you see is what you get editor. So you can go in and pull out sections, add new sections. So you literally have the entire MOOC in the machine.
That doesn't mean you can change the videos without help. But it means you can change the equations. You can change the problems. You can make corrections for past errors. So I think that in principle, you can do whatever you want. In practice, I don't know how hard it is. The editor is fairly primitive, but it works. It works.
JOE: In the back. Charlie?
ANDREW CHIGNELL: Oh. Oh, I'm sorry. Should I go ahead, or should I--
JOE: Yes, please.
ANDREW CHIGNELL: I'm sorry. I'm right here.
JOE: Yes, OK. And who are you?
ANDREW CHIGNELL: I'm Andrew Chignell. I'm in Philosophy.
JOE: Oh, yes. OK, right.
ANDREW CHIGNELL: Yeah, so I've wisely or unwisely signed up to co-teach the Ethics of Eating class next year. So I'm curious to ask you all about-- I mean really, it's the conflict question again, but because it's an ethics class, and it's about eating and gets into animal welfare issues and so forth, so promises to be somewhat more controversial, whether you intentionally try to avoid-- I mean is it an opinionated introduction to your topic, or are you trying to just provide a neutral framework and let people have the discussions? And do you feel like an ethics class is going to lead to more conflicts, especially about this topic?
STEPHEN WICKER: I think one of the beauties of having a controversial topic is that you're going to have a lot of discussion. And I think that's a positive thing. I tried to not make my opinions clear, although that was kind of hard at times. But I did state opinions that were on both sides of a given topic.
To what extent should surveillance be a public thing? What sort of notifications necessary, those sorts of things. And the students enjoy talking about it. So I think that the platform is actually quite good for controversial topics in that it does allow for a lot of discussion.
LOUIS HYMAN: Yeah, I think we taught the conflict. So one of the things we did, because we were teaching together, was to talk about the different ways people interpret things, and just like in a classroom that you don't want to shove your opinion down the throats of students. You want them to think critically. So that's what we tried to foster.
JOE: Yes. Go ahead, please.
CHARLIE WALCOTT: Charlie Walcott, neurobiology and behavior. I just wondered if it might be possible to assemble a kind of a sample reel of some of your various MOOCs that those of us that could-- so we could just get kind of an idea of the variety of things and what it looks like. It might be a very useful thing for recruiting other faculty.
JOE: Laura, you want to respond to that?
LAURA: Yeah, I don't see why we couldn't. I think that's an excellent idea. We'll look into finding a way of just a quick preview overview of some of the best of our first four MOOCs. Thanks, Charlie.
JOE: I think there has been talk also of providing tools that would make it easier going forward.
JOE: Yeah. One last question. Yes, please.
AUDIENCE: This is for Laura. I'm just wondering if the MOOCs are revenue neutral. We're being told how to handle this. We're supposed to be revenue neutral in our department. We should propose anything if it isn't revenue neutral. I'm wondering if they are for Cornell, and if not now, will they be in the future?
LAURA: Well, I can say that they're technically not revenue neutral, but they're not tremendously expensive for us. And the app-- and so how to balance the benefits against the rather limited costs, we feel in certain fields that they are enabling us to recruit graduate students. So there is an extended cost benefit analysis. But I think the bottom line is we're not spending large amounts of money on these, as our-- as our-- our instructors will testify.
LAURA: We're-- we've taken advantage of the generosity of a small troop of faculty, and we take advantage of faculty all the time for different reasons and different purposes. And in this case, we've taken advantage of them to support long term changes in our ability to be innovative in relationship to undergraduate education. So I think that that's a significant long term benefit that their experience is beginning to make me believe is a possible one.
JOE: That's a great way to end this. So thanks very much for coming. I thank the panelists for their efforts and their explanations of what's going on. And I invite you all down to the hall to have a glass of wine and chat with some of these delightful people.
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Faculty members who created Cornell's inaugural MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) shared their experiences during a panel discussion April 16, 2014. Participants: Edward E. Baptist, history; David Chernoff, astronomy; David Easley, economics; Louis Hyman, labor relations; Stephen Wicker, electrical and computer engineering; and Laura Brown, senior vice provost for undergraduate education.