BobRob Reich: Much Ado About MOOCs: "Sandel is legendary lecturer, and Justice is rightly one of the most celebrated courses at Harvard…. And yet the San Jose State philosophers are right about the poor quality of JusticeX. It is almost certainly inferior to what the SJSU faculty could offer its students. How can this be?… I signed up for JusticeX with interest and went through most of the course content…. JusticeX is dispiritingly uninventive, seemingly disinterested in experimenting with any of the novel forms of faculty-student and student-student interaction that many online platforms, including edX, make possible…. In creating JusticeX, Sandel chose to do nothing more than upload the PBS video recordings…. No attempt was made to create supplementary materials designed specifically for online learning…. No attempt was made to curate a robust and interactive student discussion forum; instead online discussions consist of hundreds one or two sentence posts by students with scarcely any replies by Sandel, his teaching assistants, or other students. No attempt was made to foster student learning through digital projects, essay assignments, or the kind of written assessment or section discussions that Harvard students experience…. Sandel appeared once, live, to answer questions from JusticeX students. Otherwise, he might not have had any involvement at all. When the San Jose State philosophers… observe that 'purchasing a series of lectures does not provide anything over and above assigning a book to read', they are also correct. What this demonstrates, however, is not the inferiority of MOOCs but a lack of imagination in the case of JusticeX…. The cliché that 'more research is needed' is actually true about MOOCs."
Charles Stross: Crib Sheet: Glasshouse: "And so I ended up with a novel narrated in the first person present tense by the ultimate unreliable narrator (if your first person narrator is murdered two thirds of the way through the story then it's a fair clue that nothing in the story should be taken at face value, right?). Who in turn thinks they're being injected into a prison designed to rehabilitate war criminals, on a mission to expose the administrators' complicity in atrocities ... except that the narrator has a remarkably dodgy background, and indeed fits all the criteria for being incarcerated there himself. And nothing is what it seems, in this panopticon, and indeed our hero/ine may be the worst villain in the plot—or alternatively an innocent in search of redemption: as are they all, hopeful monsters on a one-way journey into a future where their sins can be forgotten."
Mark Thoma sends us to Brian Keeley and OECD Insights:Economist's View: 'The Impact of Immigrants': "Flick through the pages or online comments of some of the racier newspapers, and you’ll see immigrants being accused of stealing jobs or, if not that, of being workshy and 'scrounging benefits'… they do seem to reflect a degree of public ambivalence, and even hostility, towards immigrants in a number of OECD countries…. New research from the OECD indicates that… across OECD countries, the amount that immigrants pay to the state in the form of taxes is more or less balanced by what they get back in benefits…. The extent to which this finding holds true across OECD countries is striking…. Low-skilled immigrants are less likely to have a negative impact than equivalent locals."
Paul Krugman: Fiscalists, Monetarists, Credibility, and Turf: "Cardiff Garcia has a nice survey of the two main groups of stimulati…. I’d just add two points. First, my own evolution: in 1998, looking at Japan, I concluded that monetary policy could be effective, but only if — in what I guess is now a widely used phrase — the central bank could credibly commit to being irresponsible…. When crisis struck more widely, it became clear to me just how hard this would be to achieve…. So I became a pragmatic fiscalist, for reasons best laid out by Mike Woodford: the great thing about fiscal stimulus is that it doesn’t depend on expectations, and it works even if nobody believes it will work. Unfortunately, this pragmatic case for fiscal policy runs into a different real-world problem: the obduracy of policymakers…. Second, I’m surprised that Garcia doesn’t mention Richard Koo, who would seem to be the prime candidate on the fiscalist side for someone who is adamant that we not try monetary policy on the side. I’ve written about my puzzlement over Koo’s position…. The greatest intellectual sin here is to care more about protecting your turf — my answer is the only answer! — than about the real economy that desperately needs every form of help we can deliver."
Ronald Bailey: About 60 Percent of Conservatives Favor a Carbon Tax | Democratic Party of Japan | Shinzō Abe | Griqua people | Mark Thoma: Economist's View: Paul Krugman: Sympathy for the Luddites | Laura Tyson: Getting More Bang for the Buck in Higher Education | John Sides: What If a Party Re-branded Itself, and Americans Never Noticed? |