MIT Stem Pals
  July 2012  
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Our STEM education community is growing rapidly. We want to hear from you—your ideas, opinions
or news on this important topic. Send your contribution and a photo by the 10th of each month here.

Beware of MOOC’s: Weapons of Mass Instruction!
Dick LarsonA MOOC is a recent creation: Massive Online Open Course. Even the definition of a MOOC is not yet agreed upon. One person’s MOOC is another person’s garden-variety asynchronous online course. To me, the thing that makes a MOOC a MOOC is (1) huge worldwide enrollment, (2) for near-zero tuition and (3) yielding a certificate of competency when a final exam is passed. By huge, we are talking north of 100,000 students in one MOOC! Such a game changer in enrollment and tuition makes headlines, as did recent MOOC initiatives from Stanford University (with its 100,000+ enrollment in “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”), MIT (with MITx and Harvard (collaborating with MIT, with EDx And other universities are becoming MOOC’ers, too. Enrollment in one MOOC eclipses total on-campus student enrollment. MOOC devotees want to “…teach the World.” Some have called MOOCs “…networking on steroids.” Read more.

STEMx National Network Launched at U.S. News STEM Solutions Event
Elizabeth MurrayWhat does quality STEM teaching and learning look like? Where can teachers find resources or great examples of classroom practice? How can families or communities help raise student achievement in science?

Battelle Memorial Institute and 13 state STEM education networks officially launched STEMx on June 27th at the U.S. News STEM Solutions Summit in Dallas, Texas. STEMx is a multi-state initiative connecting state networks and partners to accelerate the growth of policies, practices, and partnerships that are needed to expand the number of STEM teachers, increase student achievement in STEM education, and grow tomorrow’s innovators. Read more.


A STEM Resource for Teachers
Rick McMasterEarlier this year I wrote about the 6Rs of Informal Education and the wealth of Resources (one of the 6Rs) that are available. This month I would like to highlight one of the free resources that are available to educators both in and out of classroom, Teachers TryScience. This website was developed as a partnership among The New York Hall of Science, and IBM. The advisory committee had worldwide participation.

The site has as its mission to support teacher instruction in project-based learning through hands-on lessons integrated with multimedia and engineering as the context in which to teach STEM topics connected to real world experiences. An additional function beyond the lessons and teaching strategies is its social networking tools for collaboration among educators - more about that aspect later. Read more.

Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society: The Important Role of the Four C’s in Making this Happen
Mike KasparA policy maker walks into a school and says, “From this day forward we oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills including critical thinking skills in all our state-funded schools.” “But, why?” asks a shocked educator. “Because,” the policy maker declares, “They are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education which focuses on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” “And, that means?” asks the bewildered teacher. “It means that we oppose the teaching of “higher order thinking skills” like critical thinking because we believe that the purpose is to challenge a student’s “fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.” “What the...?” ponders the teacher. Read more.