In the new Listener, on sale from 14.10.12

In The Internaut

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The new Listener leads with the boom in online study options on offer – with big names such as Harvard and Stanford among them – and what it means for local institutions.

Anthony Doesburg’s piece begins this way:

The core of any student’s education was once the 3Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. But in the 21st century, educators are just as likely to be talking about the 4Cs: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.

In this new way of educational thinking, teachers and students are connecting through the “cloud”: the international network of servers that can link digital devices almost anywhere on the planet. The aim is to build, collaborate, share and manage lessons through a multitude of media – trading chalk and blackboards for digital tools that foster collaboration and interactive learning.

In New Zealand, some institutions are already embracing this trend, but questions remain about just how profound an effect it will have on our educational sector.

One example is Moocs, or massive open online courses, which are bringing content from the world’s most prestigious universities to people anywhere there’s an internet connection. Moocs began appearing about five years ago, but failed to get much attention outside higher education. But that changed earlier this year with the launch of two ventures, Coursera and edX, involving leading institutions, mostly in the US.

Coursera is a Stanford University-led effort that offers free courses from more than 30 universities, including Princeton, Ohio State, Johns Hopkins and the universities of London, Edinburgh and Melbourne. It was launched in April.

A month later, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University announced edX, with the Universityof California Berkeley joining in July. EdX is a not-for-profit initiative that aims to “reach out to students of all ages, means and nations” with the modest goal of reinventing education through interactive web-based courses.

So far, edX offers just a handful of mostly computing-related papers, but Coursera covers a much broader range of subjects. Among the nearly 200 papers listed on its website is everything from archaeology to animal behaviour. Nearly 1.5 million people have registered on the site.

The thing that has been missing is the credential that goes with the course: the piece of paper that proves a student has met the mark and with which they can impress a prospective employer.

Now that is also changing, with the news last month that, for a “modest fee”, edX students will be able to sit exams supervised by education company Pearson, which has testing centres around the world, including in New Zealand.

Other highlights in the new issue include Guyon Espiner‘s interview with Alison Paterson, who attributes none of her success to feminism or wanting to prove women can make it in the boardroom.

A judge of a national competition in which young people predict the future tells Karyn Scherer their concern about the environment is stronger than their wild imaginings.

Rebecca Macfie writes on the hundreds of young designers preparing to light up central Christchurch – for just one night.

The jetsetting Guy Somerset might be in Frankfurt now, but the other day he was in Tasmania. He meets Christopher Koch, whose novels are marked by the scars from the past Tasmania’s landscape and the long reach of its convict history

Reviews of new works by Michelle de Kretser, CK Stead and Charlotte Grimshaw. Ann Packer rounds up young adults’ books.

Oh, and we bring back Buck Shelford - to answer a bunch of questions in two minutes.

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