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登录常青藤联合会高校

(2009-05-10 16:36:08)
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杂谈

分类: 英语学习

Logging On to the Ivy League

                          By Andrea Ford

 

"Do you know what the most complex mass of protoplasm on earth is?" Marian Diamond asks her students on the first day of anatomy class as she casually opens a flowery hatbox and lifts out a preserved human brain. "This mass only weighs 3 lb., and yet it has the capacity to conceive of a universe a billion light-years across. Isn't that phenomenal?"

“你们知道细胞质最复杂的部分到底在哪里吗?”第一天的解剖学课上,玛丽安·戴蒙德一边随手打开带有花卉图案的帽盒,取出一个保存完好的人脑,一边向她的学生问道。“这一部分只有3重,却能够构想出10亿光年之大的宇宙。这有多了不起啊!”

 

Diamond is an esteemed neuroanatomist and one of the most admired professors at the University of California, Berkeley. It would be a privilege for anyone to sit in on her lectures. And, in fact, anyone can. Videos of her popular course are available free online, part of a growing movement by academic institutions worldwide to open their once exclusive halls to all who want to peek inside. Whether you'd like to learn algebra from a mathematician at MIT, watch how to make crawfish étouffée from an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America or study blues guitar with a professor at Berklee College of Music, you can do it all in front of your computer, courtesy of other people's money. In March, YouTube launched an education hub called YouTube Edu, dedicated exclusively to videos from the more than 100 schools--ranging from Grand Rapids Community College to Harvard Business School--that have set up official channels on the site. Liberated from the viral stew of pop-culture vlogs and silly cat videos, the collection highlights how much free education is out there.

戴蒙德是贝克利加利福尼亚大学德高望重的神经解剖学家和最受崇敬的教授之一。对任何人来说,能够旁听她的课是一件很荣幸的事。而事实上,任何人都可以做到。她所讲的通俗课程的视频可在网上免费观看,这是全世界学术机构发起的一项方兴未艾的运动的一部分,旨在将其原本不对外的讲堂向所有心驰向往的人进行开放。不管你是想跟麻省理工学院的数学家学习代数,或是观看美国烹饪学院的教师如何制作小龙虾浇饭,还是想跟伯克利音乐学院的教授学习蓝调吉它,你都可以在电脑前实现,而自己却不用掏一分钱。3月份,YouTube开设了一个叫做YouTube Edu的教育专栏,专门发布已在网上设立了官方频道的100多所学校提供的视频——学校从大急流城社区学院到哈佛商学院一应俱全。这些视频摆脱了鱼目混杂的流行文化视频博客和傻猫视频,充分体现了教育的自由程度。

 

Why is YouTube going high-brow? The answer involves revenue (the Edu hub has room for one or two ads on its home page), social relevance and perhaps a bit of rivalry. More than 170 schools offer content free to the public on Apple's iTunes U, which originated in 2004 as a way for colleges to distribute content privately to their own students. The partnership has been a win-win: universities get a cost-cutting distribution tool, and Apple's products become must-haves on campus.

YouTube缘何开始走向高雅?答案是收益(教育专栏的主页上设有一两个广告位)、社会实用性以及可能存在的些许竞争。在Apple’s iTunes U上,170多个学校免费向公众提供内容,Apple’s iTunes U始创于2004年,用于各大学私下向自己的学生发布内容。这种合作关系带来了双赢:大学获得降低成本的发布工具,而Apple的产品则成为校园里的必备品。

 

The bigger question is, Why have colleges started posting all this stuff at no charge? "Schools have always wanted to have their own area where they could be among their peer institutions and help with the discovery of their content," says Obadiah Greenberg, who leads the project at YouTube.

更重要的问题在于,为什么大学开始免费将所有的资料贴出来?“各个学校都总想拥有自己的区域,可与兄弟高校齐头并肩,并且有助于找到他们所发布的内容,”YouTube项目带头人的奥巴代亚·格林伯格说。

 

But producing content for global consumption can be hugely expensive. MIT, an open-courseware pioneer that since 2002 has published text materials such as lecture notes and syllabi for about 85% of its curriculum, spends more than $10,000 per course to compile, publish and license text materials; classes with videos cost twice as much.

但是,生产用于全球消费的内容可能会非常昂贵。麻省理工学院是开放式课件的倡导者,它自2002年始就发布课程笔记等教材资料以及约85%的课程教学大纲。教材资料的编写、出版和许可,每门课程的花费超过1万美元;视频课程的成本则要翻番。

 

Yet MIT's Steve Carson, who serves as president of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, says it's worth the expense, since the online content attracts prospective students, keeps alumni connected and encourages innovation. Schools have decided that these benefits outweigh the concerns about cost, intellectual property and devaluation of élite degrees. After all, the free material does not add up to a diploma, and viewers can't interact with the faculty.

麻省理工学院的史蒂夫·卡森说,这是值得的,因为网上内容能吸引未来的学生,保持校友之间的联系,并鼓励创新。卡森目前是开放式课件联盟的主席。各学校已断定,这些好处比对成本、知识产权以及精英学位贬值的担忧更为重要。毕竟,免费资料并不意味着学历,浏览者无法与教师进行互动。

 

The volume of YouTube Edu's content, which includes campus tours and other nonacademic material, can be overwhelming, but the view-count sorting feature helps users quickly locate must-see videos, which they can comment on and rate on a five-star scale.

YouTube Edu的内容量非常之大,它包括了校园游览和其他非学术性资料,但浏览量排序功能有助于用户迅速找到必看的视频,他们可以对这些视频进行点评,并按照五星级别进行评级。

 

Another new site, AcademicEarth.org lets users give lectures letter grades. (Diamond's brain-in-a-hatbox episode, posted there as well as on YouTube Edu, got an A average.) The much smaller, more closely edited site also assembles playlists of related lectures, like one titled "Wars Throughout History." Richard Ludlow, 23, came up with the idea for the site when he was struggling with an algebra course at Yale and discovered helpful Web lectures by the author of his textbook, MIT professor Gilbert Strang. Ludlow thinks every school should play more to its strengths and not be shy about letting a professor rely on a rival's superstar lectures. "That way, the students get a great lecture experience, and the professor has more time for question-and-answer," he says.

另外一个新的网站AcademicEarth.org,允许用户给讲座进行ABC评分。(发布在该网站和YouTube Edu上的戴蒙德帽盒里的大脑视频获得了A等平均分。)规模较小、编辑较为仔细的网站还会汇集相关课程的播放列表,像名为“历史上的战争”课程。23岁的理查德·勒德洛在耶鲁大学苦学代数课程时,发现其课本的编写者、麻省理工学院教授吉尔伯特·斯特朗的网络讲座很有帮助,于是产生了建立网站的念头。勒德洛认为,每个学校应更充分地发挥其优势,索性大大方方地让教授依赖对手超级明星般的讲座。“这样,学生听课会乐在其中,而教授则会有更多的时间进行问题解答,”他说。

 

There is clearly a big appetite for all kinds of online lectures, as shown by the popularity of sites like TED.com which broadcasts talks given by innovators in the fields of technology, entertainment and design. But one of the most interesting consequences of open courseware may be its impact on teachers, who have a new way to get feedback--and exposure.

TED.com之类的网站的受欢迎程度表明,人们显然对各种网上课程的兴趣很大,该网站播出科技、娱乐和设计领域的创新者所做的讲座。但是开放式课件最有趣的结果之一可能在于它对教师的影响,他们有了一种新的获取反馈乃至讲课的方式。

 

"It used to be that research was No. 1. Now people are working harder to be better teachers," Diamond says. Sifting through e-mails, the 82-year-old professor reads over messages she's saved from students and teachers who watched her lectures from as far away as England and Egypt. "At this time of life, when everybody else is retiring and stepping aside, thinking they've done it all, you're getting this worldwide connection. It's beautiful."

“过去,研究是第一位的。现在,大家则发奋努力,成为更好的老师,”戴蒙德说。通过认真筛选电子邮件,这位82岁的教授浏览从远在英格兰和埃及的观看她讲座的老师和学生那里保存的信息。“在人生的这个阶段,别人要退休、要让贤,认为自己已完成使命,而你正与世界相连。这太棒了。”

 

 

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