Monday, August 4

Nathan Heller: Is College Moving Online?

A long read son. Whilst it won't impact you or perhaps even Diya, a significant change is coming to higher tertiary education. The Gutenberg bible was the start. When the link between 1-2-1 teaching and learning was broken. When the bible in local languages was made available, it didn't need a priest / teacher to teach religion or education. Slowly life is changing. 

You don't have to be in a classroom to learn. But you personally have to have a degree as that is a qualification. A union card if you will. You heard the discussion over the weekend son. One needs to be at the top university. Oxford and Cambridge are it. Then LSE and others. Or if you want to study in Harvard or MIT. 

But you will face the students who have studied online. As potential employees, customers, tax payers and shareholders. Their behaviour and economic incentives will be slightly if significantly different. The trick is to know and recognise this difference son. 



Nathan Heller: Is College Moving Online? : The New Yorker

Gregory Nagy, a professor of classical Greek literature at Harvard, is a gentle academic of the sort who, asked about the future, will begin speaking of Homer and the battles of the distant past. At seventy, he has owlish eyes, a flared Hungarian nose, and a tendency to gesture broadly with the flat palms of his hands. He wears the crisp white shirts and dark blazers that have replaced tweed as the raiment of the academic caste. His hair, also white, often looks manhandled by the Boston wind. Where some scholars are gnomic in style, Nagy piles his sentences high with thin-sliced exposition. (“There are about ten passages—and by passages I simply mean a selected text, and these passages are meant for close reading, and sometimes I’ll be referring to these passages as texts, or focus passages, but you’ll know I mean the same thing—and each one of these requires close reading!”) When he speaks outside the lecture hall, he smothers friends and students with a stew of blandishment and praise. “Thank you, Wonderful Kevin!” he might say. Or: “The Great Claudia put it so well.” Seen in the wild, he could be taken for an antique-shop proprietor: a man both brimming with solicitous enthusiasm and fretting that the customers are getting, maybe, just a bit too close to his prized Louis XVI chair.

Nagy has published no best-sellers. He is not a regular face on TV. Since 1978, though, he has taught a class called “Concepts of the Hero in Classical Greek Civilization,” and the course, a survey of poetry, tragedy, and Platonic dialogues, has made him a campus fixture. Because Nagy’s zest for Homeric texts is boundless, because his lectures reflect decades of refinement, and because the course is thought to offer a soft grading curve (its nickname on campus is Heroes for Zeroes), it has traditionally filled Room 105, in Emerson Hall, one of Harvard’s largest classroom spaces. Its enrollment has regularly climbed into the hundreds.

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