Your Voice | Pedagogical potential
February 19, 2013, 11:30 pm·
In response to an editorial in yesterday’s paper (“The Coursera cliff,” Feb. 19), I would like to clarify that the American Council of Education recommended professor Robert Ghrist’s Coursera course on single variable calculus for credit but did not recommend that “Penn should give course credit” for it as stated in the editorial. Penn has no current plans to award such credit, and ACE did not make any recommendations about the actions of specific universities.
That said, it is important to appreciate the potential of professor Ghrist’s course to revolutionize the teaching of calculus during the internet age. For the first time, we have a mathematically sophisticated and graphically beautiful single variable calculus course available in a self-contained format. On our own campus, the next time professor Ghrist teaches “Calculus I,” he can devote class time to the kind of learning that can only happen face-to-face.
Moreover, other teachers can flip their classrooms, thereby increasing the quality of instruction for students everywhere. For the first time, students with interest and ability in math attending high schools that do not teach AP Calculus BC will be able to learn it through Coursera. We hope that this will in turn help recruit students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, especially those from traditionally underrepresented and underserved backgrounds. ACE’s recognition of professor Ghrist’s achievement is richly deserved, and we hope that it will aid in the widespread adoption of his course.
Edward Rock is the Senior advisor to the president and provost and director of Open Course Initiatives.