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Environment

Flip Side Of Online Courses

May 20, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 20

Left unstated in “Flipping Chemistry Classrooms” is the possibility that the best and brightest students may succeed despite bad teaching (C&EN, March 25, page 41).

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer a single professor the opportunity to sift through tens of thousands of anonymous students. The appalling student success rates cited were not attributed to any fault of the tenured professor or his or her pedagogy but rather to the students’ “expectations.”

I would like to assure potential students who would prefer to maximize their chances for success and the time they spend with a professor who knows their names—and that includes engaging in undergraduate research—that there are alternatives to this MOOC snake oil.

James J. Ley
Miami

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