Saturday, November 14, 2015

Out of the echo chamber: New MIT grant enables research into online course forums - Maria E. Cruz Lopez, MIT Tech

The increasing popularity of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has created new pathways to education, connecting diverse groups of learners not bound by geography. But what happens when these online students engage and interact? Do they build bridges of healthy discourse or do they form siloes of insular thinking — and is it possible for instructors to forge communities founded on conversation rather than conflict? Education researcher Justin Reich, executive director of the Teaching Systems Lab within MIT’s Office of Digital Learning, intends to find out. Reich, along with associates from Princeton University and Harvard University, was recently awarded a $400,000 research grant from the Spencer Foundation. The grant is part of the foundation’s “Measuring the Quality of Civic and Political Engagement” initiative.

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