back to article Ethernet daddy: online education poised to transform the world

During an interview at the Ethernet Innovation Summit in Mountain View, California, Ethernet inventor Robert Metcalfe was asked what surprises were on the horizon due to the ever more pervasive advance of the internet. "The most exciting surprise, I think, is going to be MOOCs," said Metcalfe on Wednesday, referring to online …


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  1. Don Jefe

    Good Stuff

    I've been doing the aerospace courses from MIT for a while now and I really enjoy the entire process. Provided you already know how to study (which I think doesn't get taught anymore) the information provided is fantastic.

    I don't know that you'd ever want to fly in an aircraft I designed but the knowledge does translate directly to my miniature R/C aircraft hobby. What I like best is that even though all the information is already out there the online courses organize it in a useful way where concepts are built upon one another as opposed to just thrown randomly at you from God knows who.

  2. GloriousVictoryForThePeople

    I'm going to really miss it

    ......he said. "We're now going to solve ignorance with the internet."

    I'm really going to really miss it,

    - its entertaining

    - its great for business

    - it make politics and religion really soar.

    We are going to be so screwed when its gone.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I'm going to really miss it

      Sarcasm, right?

      1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

        Re: I'm going to really miss it

        But the YouTube comments will be empty!

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I agree that the Internet is a great tool for knowledge. I had the opportunity to use it in 2010 to get myself a certification in web design and web server maintenance. Did it from home thanks to an online course, saved a lot on travel expenses and could work all day without interruption. There were workshops scheduled at regular intervals, you could chat with the professor in charge and ask your questions. It worked rather well for a group of adults.

    Without that course, I would have had to register in a brick-and-mortar place, which might not have had space for me, would be at an hour's drive away, and would require me to bother with noon meals, all that at a time when I was without a job and thus preferred not spending all that money on gas and food.

    Now I have a job again, even though I'm not doing much web design I'm mighty happy about how it all turned out.

    So yeah, school on the Internet, I'm all for it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Distance learning

    is nothing new, the OU has been doing it for years. On-line IT courses have been around for years too.

    In the end a good teacher taking you through the course makes a huge difference to learning anything substantial. A mix of distance learning and tuition sessions can work fairly well though.

  5. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

    Completion Rates

    I read that completion rates are around 7%. My first thought was that this is quite low compared to traditional higher education. I would guess that this is has to do with the lack of financial investment on the part of the students, but that is speculation on my part. However, this small percentage can translate into a number greater than would complete and pass the course in a more traditional classroom setting.

  6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Metcalfe's a good guy...

    ... but his opinion on the subject of MOOCs is hardly more valuable than that of J Random Idiot. As far as I'm aware, he hasn't conducted any pedagogical research. He probably doesn't even have much in the way of pedagogical training; many university professors don't, particularly in scientific and technical fields (Metcalfe is a prof of EE).

    MOOCs are swell for many purposes - they're particularly nice for people looking to achieve some reliable knowledge about a subject area where they don't already have expertise, or to give someone the flavor of a field they're thinking about trying, or just for general broadening of the mind. I would never discourage someone from taking one. But they are by no means well-suited to every subject, or to every student.

    They work well for students who are reasonably self-motivated and not easily discouraged when learning in a traditional instructional environment, and for subjects where the knowledge-transfer model works well. Process-model subjects like composition are much harder to adapt effectively into the MOOC model.

    (The less said about that twee "BOOC" metaphor, the better.)

    And let's not forget that his track record with predictions is not great.

    And by the way, Rik, MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course. I don't know what "massively open" might entail ("dude, that course is massively open!"), but the intent of the phrase is that "massive" modifies "course", just like the other two adjectives.

  7. ecofeco Silver badge

    One to one relaitonship?

    What one to one relationship?

    On-line ed will be the best thing to happen to the human race.

    Wait. Will? It's already happening and has been for years.

    The folks in the ivory towers get farther and farther out of touch while the average person become better and better informed.

    Well, many anyway.

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