DartmouthX: Four Questions (Dartmouth Now)

DartmouthX: Four Questions

Posted on January 23, 2014 By

Josh Kim, Dartmouth’s director of digital learning programs, and Alan Cattier ’86, director of Academic Computing, spell out why DartmouthX—the College’s newly announced association with online learning platform edX—is a winning venture for Dartmouth students and faculty, and for learners everywhere.

Alan Cattier and Josh Kim

Alan Cattier ’86, left, director of Academic Computing, and Josh Kim, director of digital learning programs, are responsible for leading Dartmouth’s efforts to innovate with learning technologies. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Alan Cattier ’86, left, director of Academic Computing, and Josh Kim, director of digital learning programs, are responsible for leading Dartmouth’s efforts to innovate with learning technologies. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Even a quick glance at edX offerings makes it clear these aren’t correspondence courses by email, or a collection of taped lectures. But they also aren’t like face-to-face Dartmouth classes. What’s different, and why does that matter?

JK: I think of edX courses in particular, and open online learning in general, as the next evolution of teaching materials. These courses are building interactive and social textbooks for a digital world. But even the very best edX course will offer a qualitatively different learning experience from how Dartmouth approaches teaching and learning. A Dartmouth course, whether it be fully face-to-face or a combination of online and residential learning, is all about the learning relationship that our faculty and students create. Our faculty know our students well, and they work to create as individual and personalized learning experiences as possible.

AC: EdX, and experiments like it, potentially create learning communities where learning can occur in multiple dimensions. Students may teach each other, they may work in teams, they may teach across cultures or nationalities or affiliations. In a best case, they bring their world to the course as opposed to just having their course delivered to them. And because the environment is digital, it can respond to the learner as they navigate the material, giving them feedback as to how they are doing as they move through the content. In edX, as a learner, you see yourself needing to reengage material, and you see it as you are learning, not just when you take a final, summative exam. Read more.

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