The Effectiveness of Online Writing Courses

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 17 June 2016

The Effectiveness of Online Writing Courses

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are one of the revolutionary trends in education across the world. Many controversies surround it with some education stakeholders viewing it as very costly but of little value. In addition, other critics consider it a cheaper model of teaching especially in higher education (Vimeo, 2014). Cheaper in the sense many students can be reached wherever they are with no travel needed, by a single instructor, but of little value in the sense that there is no face to face interaction between the student and the instructor. For instance, Dr. Karen Head and Thomas Friedman hold divergent opinions and views on the same issue; however, they tend to agree on other significant views concerning the debate this may be in order to attain a neutral understanding. The revolution in the education sector across the world, which is created by massive use of the internet, is acknowledged by both Head and Friedman. The duos are acknowledging that many students across the world can be reached and access education online.

However, there is a feeling that many students especially those from financially challenged backgrounds may be left out (Head, 2013, para. 1). Friedman is arguing that, “massive open online courses can present a scenario of inequalities in education provision.” He further asserts that, “children and students from affluent families will use online courses to augment teaching on campus while their counterparts from the less fortunate families will resort to the use of automated online instruction with little personal guidance (Head, 2013, Para. 2).” This is something that Head shares closely with Friedman as she also raises the concern that many students across the world that she instructs using massive open online courses have little access to the internet. Nevertheless, the content that the model is able to deliver to the students is also a matter of controversy. Friedman is worried of the number of students that can be handled with the use of MOOCs (Head, 2013, para. 4).

His other worry is the creation of a “super professor” that can handle such huge numbers while the rest of the lecturers are left with nothing to handle. Head, however, praises the model as she reports that besides reaching many students in almost all continents of the world, the students have also formed forums where they discuss contents and technology and helps one another with questions. She is also admitting that the most exciting part of all is the weekly “hangout” sessions, which are enabled by the use of Google air (Head, 2013, para. 5). Friedman and Dr. Head still possess different understanding about the use of MOOCs. For instance, Dr. Head is focusing on the Massive open online courses as an instructional means of disseminating information to the students. However, Friedman sees it as a supplementary to the traditional courses and programs. He contends that, “MOOCs is an example of what colleges have been offering as a remedial aid to students (Friedman, 2013, para. 1) .” Dr. Head, on the other hand, presents MOOCs as comprehensive ways of instruction to the students.

For instance, whenever there is a problem the students are always emailed. She adds that the students are kind especially when they become transparent. In this case, the two authors differ on their take on the MOOCs (Friedman, 2013, Para. 2). While Friedman is questioning the authentic nature of the MOOCs, Head, on the other hand, is keen on this issue. She acknowledges the huge number as a challenge with regards to the assessment of the students (Friedman, 2013, Para. 3). However, she is keen to demystify any doubt about the authentic nature of their assessment as she puts it that, “students are first trained on peer review and peer assessment.” The students are also supposed to have a look at the previous essays and see how they were awarded and graded. While Thomas is concerned with the content retention of the MOOCs, he is also concerned about the level of plagiarism that is associated with such a method (Friedman, 2013, Para. 4).

Despite the usefulness of the method as it saves time when reaching out students with information, the time involved in the preparation is enormous, a fact that is shared by both Friedman and Head. For instance, Friedman doubts how possible it is easy to assess and reach enormous large number of students within a short period. However, Head, while defending how assessment and reaching the students is done, admits time as a challenge with open online massive courses (Head, 2013, Para. 1). For instance, she puts it that it takes awhile to prepare, and this is a procedure, which involves many things like rehearsing and recording videos among other things. As if this is not enough, after recording, the recorded script is then taken for editing something that lasts for another ten days before getting the approval of the Cousera. Indeed the process for the MOOCs takes a long time something that the two authors agree on (Head, 2013, Para. 2).

In terms of financial cost, it is expensive for both the student and even the university to run and use. Higher education is perceived to be free or affordable and that all students should access it, across the world. However, both Head and Friedman are in agreement on this issue. For instance, Friedman argues that due to its expensive nature the students from rich families are the only people that can comfortably enjoy it against those from poor economic backgrounds. Head, on the other hand, perceives its expensive nature in the form of the stages it undergoes. She says that before one can use the MOOCs, it has to take one many stages like rehearsal, recording and edition before getting the approval to present (Head, 2013, Para. 3).

In the light of all the arguments, one can conclude that the two authors, Friedman and. Head, have varying opinions on the use of the MOOCs to teach. In some instances, they tend to agree on certain issues and in some cases; they differ on their stands on certain issues. For instance, Head while admitting the challenge of a huge number of students that the method handles, she suggests strategies on how they are handling such challenges (Head, 2013, Para. 4). Friedman is in doubt whether the model is good enough to handle the big number of students comfortably. The two authors also express the divergent opinion on the use of open online massive courses. For instance, Friedman views the model as a supplement that should take the form of remedial while Dr. Karen perceives it as a comprehensive whole model (Head, 2013, Para. 5).

Friedman L. Thomas. (2013). The Opinion pages: Revolution Hits the Universities. New York Times. Retrieved from Head, Karen. (2013). Lessons Learned from a


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  • University/College: University of California

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  • Date: 17 June 2016

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