Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How Much is 2+2?

I am really starting to hate these MOOCs. They requested the answer be in "prose". Prose is not poetry, that is all. So if one is asked:

"What is 2+2?"

The answer is 4. No, according to the other students one needs a paragraph to explain. But the directions said prose, not poetry. But the Peer, what an abuse of the word, Graders said it must be a "paragraph". So you lose all credit. No recourse.

I suspect that the desired answer should be:

"The questions asked what, and by what it means providing a numerical value to the terms which follow. Then the question poses the specifics. Namely the terms 2, +, and 2. The repetitive use of the symbol 2 may also imply a multiplicative  operator as well as the given addition operator. Now we assume that the 2 chose is a numeral in the standard number system, and applying a Cantor set analysis one can determine by upward counting that the use of the addition operator one attains a total of 2 plus 1 or three then plus one that is 4 which is the equivalent of 2+2. Thus using this process one can obtained the desired answer of 4."

Are you out of you ever loving mind! The answer is 4. No paragraph, no subject, predicate, verb! Just 4! This appears to be an episode of Faulty Towers but in Australia!

This is why the MOOCs will never work as an academic performance system. Having thousands of untrained random folks deciding what the right answer is when they most likely never had the material or anything close is insane!

I suspect that the academics and politicians who push this nonsense have never tasted the medicine.

And yes, 4 is prose. It is not poetry. Poetry is:

I once had the answer as 4
But the grader lowered my score
So I write this long blog
To simmer and slog
And then go back no more

I have also recently heard that some new teachers are using this peer assessment approach. They do the following:

1. Assign the material to be read by the student

2. Have peer assessment in homework and exams

3. The instructor then sits in class and oversees the students arguing amongst each other who has the correct answer.

4. And this is at a $40,000 a year Prep School.

No wonder we are falling behind Uganda and Mongolia. Who allows such stuff. At least Socrates asked questions and had a method to his madness. I wonder what ever happened to teaching. At MIT I knew each of my students personally. I knew their performance, and when they were off top levels and when I was not performing.  In this new world of teaching it appears we pay a fortune for at best being the school monitor.

Thus Peer Assessment is the worst idea I have ever heard of. Some of the peers are in my opinion just a bit short of being evil doers. There is no positive feedback and the basic premise of education has been removed. It appears as who can destroy more peers than anyone else. I guess Coursera is not alone, it include the real expensive schools as well. Too bad America!