Oct 13

More on What You Won’t Get Out of a MOOC

My post on massive open online courses (MOOCs) generated a bit of commentary. Since I am busy with travel, a grant proposal, and a commissioned article on top of the usual research and committee work these days (I don’t teach in the fall), I thought I would summarize that commentary in lieu of a proper Monday post.

First came a post by Aine Seitz McCarthy, one of our PhD students whose blog also focuses on development. Aine (“pronounced like An-ya”) sees MOOCs as a threat to her future employment: Continue reading →

Sep 13

What You Won’t Get Out of a MOOC (Updated)

(Credit: catspyjamasnz.)

(Credit: catspyjamasnz.)

I have been toying for a while with the idea of writing something about massive open online courses (MOOCs). But the more I thought about MOOCs, the more I struggled to come up with an original angle, and with something that hasn’t already been said better elsewhere.

It wasn’t until Sunday morning, which is when I usually sit down to write blog posts for the week, that I thought of something interesting enough to be shared here when I thought of one of my favorite essays in development economics.

The essay in question is by Lant Pritchett and is titled “The Policy Irrelevance of the Economics of Education.” It was published in 2009 in a Brookings collection of essays edited by Jessica Cohen and Bill Easterly titled What Works in Development? Continue reading →

Nov 12

#SWEDOW on Steroids

The One Laptop Per Child organization is trying something new in two remote Ethiopian villages — simply dropping off tablet computers with pre-loaded programs and seeing what happens.

The goal: to see if illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its preloaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs. Continue reading →