New cell phone laws take effect Jan 1

first_imgThe use of two-way radios for commercial or industrial vehicles will be permitted. Drivers in Fort St. John have only three days to quit chatting while driving.On January 1st, police will be enforcing a new law, which prohibits anyone from talking on their handheld device while driving.Under the Motor Vehicle Act, drivers will be able to use hands-free cell phones that require only one touch to activate.- Advertisement -As of February 1, a driver talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device will be subject to a fine of $167.Drivers caught texting or emailing will be subject to three penalty points on their license. For new drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program, there will be a full ban on using all cell phone and electronic devices, including hands-free ones.Police, fire and ambulance personnel who may need to make calls in the performance of their duties, and motorists who need to call 9-1-1 are exempt from the legislation.Advertisementlast_img read more

Danish Church Persecutes Darwin Doubters

first_imgEven within some churches, Darwin skeptics can face censure and calls for re-education in the religion of evolution.That Darwin doubters can expect persecution within secular academia is old news. But in the church? Karsten Pultz, an intelligent design supporter in Denmark, reported a story he found in a “Christian newspaper” in his home country. He tells about the difficulties a Darwin doubting theologian encountered within the Danish church. His remarks, titled “Something rotten in the state of Denmark”* were reproduced at Uncommon Descent:Recently, Mads Jakobsen, a priest and theologian in the Danish state church, was reprimanded by his bishop, Marianne Christiansen because he had written critically about Darwin’s theory in his parish magazine. The theologian had mainly identified the moral problems which arise when trying to combine survival of the fittest with Christian beliefs, but he seems also to have admitted his doubt of the science behind the theory.The bishop was outraged that the priest would doubt a “scientifically proven” theory and she publicly demanded that he commit himself to be re-educated in the theory of evolution. The bishop recommended that , Niels Henrik Gregersen, professor of theology at the University of Copenhagen, should provide this criminally ignorant theologian with the proper literature, so that his delusions could be corrected.The bishop was supported by Svend Andersen, theology professor at the University of Århus, who insisted that “There ought not to be room for such views within the church.” Professor Andersen also expressed the view that a certain intellectual standard must be required of ministers, implying that only a moron would doubt evolution.The entire essay can be read at the link above. Pultz says that 85% in his country believe in evolution. He goes on to describe how his attempts to show scientific flaws in Darwinian evolution result in him being immediately labeled a “creationist” even though he stated no theological arguments, just scientific ones. When he tried to correct errors in the publication, he was ignored. He describes the response to his piece defending Jakobsen:My piece was, naturally, written in defense of pastor Mads Jakobsen but I also made the excuse for the bishop that she, hardly a villain, is just acting in accordance with what we all have learned in school, namely that evolution is a fact. She should not be blamed for the extremely biased way evolution is taught all the way from primary school to university. I got no answer from the journalist, no reaction, and no explanation, – I’m being met with complete silence. So what we have is a Christian newspaper which willingly airs unsubstantiated allegations against my work but at the same time refuses to bring my side of the story.Pultz concludes that “a Christian newspaper gangs up with the theological elite to heckle Darwin doubters and prevent an open debate about the validity of Darwin’s theory.”*Reference to a line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.Something is rotten not only in the state of Denmark, but in all churches that prefer Darwin to Christ. Misinformed theologians and ministers, who have abandoned confidence in the word of God, love the approval of the world more than the approval of God. Having been taught that ‘evolution is a fact’ and a ‘scientifically proven theory’ that only a ‘moron’ would doubt, they fear being thought of morons themselves by the culture around them. To prove to the culture they are not one of ‘them,’ these liberal theologians and ministers often become even more intolerant of Darwin doubters than the secular Darwinists themselves.The situation is analogous to the Israelites in the Old Testament who repeatedly fell for the Baals. They tried to keep some semblance of their monotheistic religion but they didn’t want to be looked down on by all the surrounding nations that had many gods—idols that nodded at debauchery. Darwin is the golden calf of our era, with worship centers in the Bethel of liberal seminaries and the Dan of liberal churches. Their leaders try to prevent them from going to the Jerusalem temple of science by ignoring Jerusalem and luring them into the temples of the popular gods of the day. As with all leftists, they are totalitarians at heart. Nobody is allowed to question the state dogma: not even the church. Churches even become pawns of the regime, carrying out the persecution.Sadly, they never hear the critiques of Darwin which we report daily at CEH. When one studies the evidence, one finds Darwinism to be a vacuous pseudo-theory in a house of cards. It is vacuous, illogical, and contrary to the monumental evidence for design: vacuous, because Darwin’s ‘natural selection’ equates to the Stuff Happens Law; illogical, because it is self-refuting; contrary to the evidence, because examples of irreducible complexity and fine tuning are legion from the atom to the universe as a whole. Why would anyone taking the name of ‘Christian’ want to be associated with such an idea? Theistic evolution is a growing problem in American Christendom as well. Help your pastor or religious leader learn the evidence against evolution and for design, so that he can be bold in opposing the Baal of our time.Recommended Resources: The recent anthology Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical and Theological Critique has good chapters on the scientific problems with Darwinian evolution. We do not endorse some of its Biblical interpretations, but the book pulls the rug out from under the assumed scientific evidence on which Darwinists build their house of cards. Just the chapter by Dr James Tour is enough to topple the Darwin idol, but there is much more. Other good books are Undeniable by molecular biologist Doug Axe, Heretic by organic chemist Matti Leisola, and Darwin’s House of Cards by journalist Tom Bethell.(Visited 414 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

A feast of South African festivals

first_imgFestivals, festivals, festivals … South Africa has a celebration for every event, art form, food, drink and agricultural commodity.The pupils from Chris Hani High School welcome festival goers on day two of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March 2017. (Image: Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Facebook)Here’s a comprehensive month-by-month guide to some of South Africa’s best excuses for a party. You can browse the whole list, or click on the links below to jump to a specific month:FebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecemberFEBRUARYDance UmbrellaWhere: Johannesburg, GautengWebsite: Dance UmbrellaA festival of contemporary choreography and dance, the Dance Umbrella presents work ranging from community-based dance troupes to international companies. Since it started in 1988, it has launched many South African choreographers into international dance, including Vincent Mantsoe, Robyn Orlin and Boyzie Cekwana.Up the CreekWhere: Up the Creek campsite, Breede River, near Swellendam, Western CapeWebsite: Up the CreekThe Up the Creek campsite is situated on the banks of the Breede River and during the four-day festival offers three stages: the main stage, the river stage and the all-night-long Breede River bar stage. Visitors can frolic in the river during the day and then move up to main stage as the day progresses.Prickly Pear FestivalWhere: Uitenhage, Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern CapeThe Prickly Pear Festival is held in late February or early March every at Cuyler Hofstede farm near Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay. It’s a day of traditional food, such as ginger beer, pancakes, potjiekos, home-made jam, a spit braai and fish braai, bunnychow and home-made pudding.MARCHCape Town International Jazz FestivalWhere: Cape Town, Western CapeWebsite: Cape Town International Jazz FestivalCape Town International Jazz is a two-day festival held during March or April featuring some 40 international and African acts performing on five stages to an audience of 15 000. It also features photographic and art exhibitions.Lambert’s Bay KreeffeesWhere: Lambert’s Bay, West Coast, Western CapeWebsite: KreeffeesKreef is Afrikaans for crayfish, and a fees can be both festival and feast. It is held every March in the West Coast town of Lambert’s Bay, where you’ll feast on fresh crayfish and get festive at rock concerts by some of South Africa’s favourite musicians. There’s also bungee jumping, aerial displays, a half-marathon, beer tents and more.The Rotary River FestivalWhere: Vanderbijlpark, GautengWebsite: Rotary River FestivalThe Rotary River Festival takes place on the banks of the Vaal River at Stonehaven on Vaal in Vanderbijlpark and has been running since 1995. It’s a fun fund-raising occasion, with the money raised going to a large number of local charities. The festival features top musicians, dance, fashion, raft racing, tasty eats, and plenty of fun for the kids and those that are young at heart.Scifest AfricaWhere: Grahamstown, Eastern CapeWebsite: Scifest AfricaSciFest Africa, or the National Festival of Science, Engineering and Technology, is held in late March in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. Over seven days it features some 600 events: lectures, game drives, a laser show, workshops, sunset shows, robotics competitions, science olympics, school quizzes, interactive exhibitions, the PlayFair, field trips, talkshops and a film festival. Attendance now exceeds 35 000 visitors every year.Tonteldoos Country FestivalWhere: Tonteldoos, MpumalangaThe Tonteldoos Country Festival, previously known as the Peach Festival, happens in late March or early April in the village of Tonteldoos, some 20km northwest of Dullstroom and two hours from Johannesburg. It offers peaches and pretty much everything that can be made from the fruit, including peach mampoer.APRILKlein Karoo Nationale KunstefeesWhere: Oudtshoorn, Western CapeWebsite: Klein Karoo Nationale KunstefeesThe Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn features well-known and young up-and-coming artists in dance and theatre. Started as an Afrikaans alternative to the mainly English National Arts Festival, KKNK has 200 different shows on three different stages.AfrikaBurnWhere: Tankwa Karoo, Northern CapeWebsite: AfrikaBurnAfrika Burn is based on The Burning Man festival which grew out of a loose grouping of individuals and organisations who questioned, and continue to question mainstream, highly commercialised society and what it does to the notion and workings of community. In a nutshell, it’s about radical self-expression.Splashy FenWhere: Underberg, KwaZulu-NatalWebsite: Splashy FenEvery year the Splashy Fen music festival attracts thousands of people to a farm near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal for a feast of mainstream and alternative rock and pop. It offers plenty of facilities, but there are great bed-and-breakfasts in nearby towns for those who believe music festivals can be enjoyed without mud.Philippolis Witblits FestivalWhere: Philippolis, Free StateThe Philippolis Witblits Festival, held in early April, will give you a taste of a proud local tradition – witblits (Afrikaans for “white lightning”) is South African moonshine. Held in the oldest town in the Free State, the festival has boeresport (literally “farmers sport”) for the kids, food, drink and more witblits.Prince Albert Town and Olive FestivalWhere: Prince Albert, Western CapeWebsite: Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival The Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival, held in the Swartberg region of the Western Cape in April, offers a whole lot more than just the region’s famous olives and wine. There’s an art exhibition, beer tents, live music, witblits tastings, crafts for kids, historic tours, a cycle race, an olive pip-spitting competition, culinary demonstrations, a midnight ghost walk, stalls, cabaret, a dance and more.MAYPink Loerie Mardi GrasWhere: Knysna, Western CapeWebsite: Pink Loerie Mardi GrasThe Knysna loerie is a green bird, but the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras is different. A gay festival held in the beautiful coastal town of Knysna in May, the Mardi Gras offers four days of non-stop entertainment for anyone who enjoys a party.Riebeek Kasteel Olive FestivalWhere: Riebeek Kasteel, Western CapeWebsite: Riebeek Kasteel Olive FestivalThe Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival takes place in the Swartland area of the Western Cape in May. A feast of wine and the best olives in South Africa, the festival also has an art competition, live entertainment, stalls and lots of food.JUNECalitzdorp Port and Wine FestivalWhere: Calitzdorp, Western CapeWebsite: Calitzdorp Port and Wine FestivalThe Klein Karoo town of Calitzdorp is the port-wine capital of South Africa. Its annual port festival, held over a weekend in June, is hosted by the eight wine cellars of Calitzdorp. There’s a historical treasure hunt around the town, local arts and crafts, lifestyle market stalls to suit all tastes, the Port Dance, restaurants, food stalls and the annual South African boules championships, plus much more.National Arts FestivalWhere: Grahamstown, Eastern CapeWebsite: National Arts FestivalThe Grahamstown National Arts Festival, held in late June or early July every year, is South Africa’s oldest, biggest and best-known arts festival. The 10-day event offers culture hounds every indulgence of theatre, music, song, dance, film and a whole lot more. If there’s one South African festival you have to attend, this is it.JULYHow artists will help South Africa reflect, critique and reimagine our national aspirations: #NAF2016— National Arts Fest (@artsfestival) October 30, 2015Dullstroom Winter FestivalWhere: Dullstroom, MpumalangaWebsite: Dullstroom Winter FestivalHeld annually in July, the Dullstroom Winter Festival is historically themed as Christmas in Winter. Activities during the festival include a golf day, a tagged trout event – Dullstroom is a fly-fishing hotspot – chocolate and wine tastings, art exhibitions, whiskey tastings and themed restaurant evenings. Live music shows showcasing roots, blues and folk music from top South African performers take place at various venues around town.Knysna Oyster FestivalWhere: Knysna, Western CapeWebsite: Knysna Oyster FestivalThe coastal town of Knysna is famous for its oysters, and increasingly famous for the July festival that celebrates them. In addition to oyster braais, oyster tasting, oyster-eating competitions and other molluscular activities, there’s live entertainment and lots of sporting events.VryfeesWhere: Bloemfontein, Free StateWebsite: VryfeesFormerly the Volksblad Arts Festival, this is a lovely festival with lots of live shows, stage productions, and an art market with lots of stalls. This festival is the big showcase for artists from all over the country who want to perform in the Free State.Ellisras Bushveld FestivalWhere: Lephalele (Ellisras), LimpopoThe Ellisras Bushveld Festival takes place in early July in the heart of the bushveld, in the Waterberg district of Limpopo. The festival includes cattle shows, a game auction, horse jumping, dog shows, agricultural activities, a three-day battle for the best 4×4 competition, a game farms expo, hunting opportunities, bird- and tree-identification competitions, traditional food, a beer tent and huge camp fires.AUGUSTOppikoppi Bushveld FestivalWhere: Northam, North WestWebsite: OppikoppiHeld on the bushveld farm of Oppikoppi (“op die koppie” in Afrikaans, or “on the hill”), this festival offers three permanent thatched stages, a smaller comedy stage and a stage for more chilled music at the top of the koppie. Oppikoppi has helped establish many South African musicians’ careers, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. This is real bushveld: hot and dry, and everywhere red dust and thorn trees. Expect to shower a lot when you get home. (Oppikoppi also hosts an Easter Festival in March.)Standard Bank Joy of JazzWhere: Johannesburg, GautengWebsite: Standard Bank Joy of JazzJohannesburg’s biggest annual jazz festival is an ideal family outing, featuring a range of musical styles but with a strong emphasis on jazz. Over 200 local and international artists perform at different venues across the city, particularly in Newtown.Hantam VleisfeesWhere: Calvinia, Northern CapeWebsite: Hantam VleisfeesCalvinia in the Northern Cape is sheep country, and this festival celebrates meat. There’s meat braaied, stewed, curried, in pita, on sosaties, in potjies – you can even pick up a done-to-perfection sheep’s head for a mere R30. First held in 1989, the three-day Hantam Vleisfees has a music concert, street party, vintage car rally and, a highlight for many, the Miss Vleisfees competition – a glittering affair with dinner and dancing.Cellar Rats Wine FestivalWhere: Magaliesburg, GautengWebsite: Cellar Rats Wine FestivalTaste South Africa’s best wines in a tranquil outdoor setting in Magaliesburg. Held every year in August, the Cellar Rats Wine Festival is a day of wine tasting, with picnic baskets for sale and many activities for the kids. Enjoy huge shady trees, lush green grass and an abundance of birdlife on the banks of the picturesque Magalies River. Designated drivers get in for free.SEPTEMBERArts AliveWhere: Johannesburg, GautengWebsite: Arts AliveArts Alive, held every September since 1992, features a heady mix of dance, visual art, poetry and music at venues in the Joburg inner city. The main concert, held at the Johannesburg Stadium, headlines international superstars such as 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes. Over 600 artists perform during the four-day festival, with most shows at various venues in Newtown. The ever-popular Jazz on the Lake is held on the final day.Aardklop Arts FestivalWhere: Potchefstroom, North WestWebsite: Aardklop Arts FestivalAardklop Arts Festival offers a feast of arts and an all-round good jol for five days in late September and early October. First held in 1998, Aardklop – Afrikaans roughly translated as “earth beat” – has over 90 productions, with classical music, jazz, hard rock, cabaret, visual arts, theatre, circus performances, opera, African and World music, poetry and more, ending with the OppiAarde rock festival on the final day.Southern Cross Music FestivalWhere: Mooi River, KwaZulu-NatalEvery September the Southern Cross Music Festival showcases South African music in a three-day event in Hidden Valley on the banks of KwaZulu-Natal’s beautiful Mooi River. First held in 1998, the festival donates part of its proceeds to charity. In addition to music, there’s fishing, swimming, white water rafting, abseiling, hikes, walks, mountain biking and 4×4 courses. The farm caters for 6 000 festival-goers.Woodstock Music FestivalWhere: Hartbeeshoek, North WestWoodstock, first held in 1999, is the largest youth-oriented music and lifestyle festival in South Africa. In addition to mainstream music, the festival offers a market of crafters and alternative lifestyle products over four days. It is held at Hartbeeshoek Holiday resort near Hartbeespoort Dam in North West.Boertjie KontreifeesWhere: Bultfontein, Free StateWebsite: Boertjie KontreifeesThe Boertjie Kontreifees is an agricultural festival, featuring 340 stalls, which draws about 20 000 people over four days. It includes plenty of sport, plenty to eat and drink, lots of competitions, and many entertainers. It being an agricultural festival, you can expect to find horses, cattle, sheep, buck, greyhounds, tractors, and cars as well.Gariep KunstefeesWhere: Kimberley, Northern CapeWebsite: Gariep KunstefeesThe Gariep Kunstefees (arts festival) features an impressive line-up of local musicians, a film festival showcasing South Africa’s new filmmakers, as well as art exhibitions and children’s theatre.Hermanus Whale FestivalWhere: Hermanus, Western CapeWebsite: Hermanus Whale FestivalEvery year, southern right whales travel thousands of miles to the Cape south coast to mate and calve in the bays. Join the villagers of Hermanus for an entertainment-packed festival, in the town with the best land-based whale watching in the world.Awesome Africa Music FestivalWhere: Midmar Dam, KwaZulu-NatalThe Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival, first held in 1999, takes place at the Midmar Dam in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands after calling Durban home for many years. Its focus is on collaboration with musicians from Africa and beyond.Prince Albert Agricultural ShowWhere: Prince Albert, Western CapeWebsite: Prince AlfredJoin the people of Prince Albert as they celebrate their agricultural heritage in September. Homecrafts, art and flowers, horses, motorbikes, sheep and angora goat competitions, local products, delicious food, bar facilities and entertainment for young and old are all on the menu.MacufeWhere: Bloemfontein, Free StateWebsite: MacufeMacufe, the 10-day Mangaung African Cultural Festival, showcases the cream of African and international talent. It features jazz, gospel, kwaito, hip-hop, R&B, rock and classical music, as well as dance, drama, cabaret, musical theatre, poetry, fine art and traditional arts and crafts. The festival attracts up to 140 000 people and is presented in late September and early October by the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State.It’s great to see our female musicians get so much support. A prove that they are being recognized #Macufe2015— Arts & Culture (@ArtsCultureSA) October 9, 2015White Mountain FestivalWhere: Estcourt, KwaZulu-NatalWebsite: White Mountain FestivalThe White Mountain Folk Festival in the Central Drakensberg mountain range offers great music in an awesome setting for three days in September. Featuring acoustic performances by some of South Africa’s top folk musicians, it is held at White Mountain Lodge in the foothills of the Giant’s Castle Nature Reserve. Camping in a beautiful site at the edge of a dam is free, with hot shower units at the ready, plus lots of “executive” loos. There’s also a variety of food stalls, and a beer market offering naturally brewed local ales and lagers.Vrede Paddadors FeesWhere: Vrede, Free StateThe full name of Paddadors, the Free State town of Vrede’s annual festival, is the Vrede Paddadors Rooivleis en Kultuurfees – which translates literally as the Peace Frog-Thirst Red-Meat and Culture Festival. The story goes that the dry land on which the town was established was originally called Paddadors (“frog thirst” in Afrikaans), until peace came and the place was named Vrede. The festival offers live music, traditional food, a beer garden, children’s activities and more.OCTOBERLekkerhoekie OpskopWhere: Polkadraai Festival Ground, Zwartkops, CenturionThe Lekkerhoekie Opskop brings together many of South Africa’s best-loved Afrikaans singers. There is also plenty of other entertainment on the side, including things for the kids to do.Herman Charles Bosman WeekendWhere: Groot Marico, North WestWebsite: Herman Charles Bosman WeekendHerman Charles Bosman was one of South Africa’s greatest writers, and this weekend festival celebrates his work in the desert town of Groot Marico, the setting for many of his stories. Some of South Africa’s top actors read from and perform Bosman’s work; there’s also good food, good company – and lots of mampoer.Rocking the Daisies Music and Lifestyle FestivalWhere: Cloof Wine Estate, Darling, Western CapeWebsite: Rocking the Daisies Music and Lifestyle FestivalRocking the Daisies features top South African bands performing a wide variety of music, as well as comedy, burlesque dancing, acoustic jams, and giant African puppeteering. The Food Village looks after the stomach and the Traders Market offers exciting goodies. Other attractions include swimming, wine tasting, the Daisy Den and Art Field, and activities for the kids.NOVEMBERFicksburg Cherry FestivalWhere: Ficksburg, Free StateWebsite: Ficksburg Cherry FestivalOne of the oldest festivals in South Africa – first held in 1969 – the Ficksburg Cherry Festival now attracts around 20 000 visitors to this small eastern Free State town every November. The scenery is magnificent, and the festival offers cherry and asparagus tastings, tours, picnics, music, and the Miss Cherry Blossom and Miss Cherry Pip competitions.DECEMBERRustler’s Valley New Year’s GatheringWhere: Ficksburg, Free StateWebsite: Rustler’s Valley New Year’s GatheringRustler’s Valley in the eastern Free State hosts some of its best trance, dance and drumming festivals in late November and December, including a New Year celebration. The majestic scenery in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains alone is worth the trip.Updated November 2015Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Just What Are Online Courses Good For? A Q&A With Harvard’s Peter Bol

first_imgRelated Posts adriana lee Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… RW: How do you compare that to the purely online class, like those offered by edX, the nonprofit formed by Harvard and MIT that offers free online courses to anyone, where all discussion and lectures happen on the Web?PKB: Remember I also employ “cold calling.” Students can volunteer too, but I call everybody, no matter where they are. You can’t replicate exactly that in a purely online format.Students who take courses online through Harvard Division of Continuing Education pay top dollar to do this. They’re interested in getting the credential or degree, [and] we try to accommodate their schedules.They write papers, they do exams—every posting they make gets read and commented upon on by a teaching fellow or me. Those are very serious courses. I mean, they lead to a Harvard degree, after all.RW: I saw online that someone asked, “If I got my degree from Harvard online, did I really go to Harvard?” What would you say to that? PKB: Well, let’s make a distinction between the courses we offer through the Division of Continuing Education and the MOOCs [massive open online courses]. Courses offered through the [DCE] cost money and lead to degrees. We’ve been [offering] that for decades. There’s nothing new about that. If they took courses through these online classes, those online classes are not MOOCs.But what I can tell you is Harvard is not planning, does not see, does not view as part of its future, turning MOOCs into degree-granting courses.RW: What are the practical differences between MOOCs and the online classes from continuing-education programs?PKB: If you’re looking to build accreditations, then you shouldn’t be doing the MOOC. MOOCs are good for building knowledge and learning. In the MOOC you’re on your own. You can watch what you want, do what you want, participate in discussions, it’s all up to you.If you want a degree, you should go through institutions where there is real discussion, that’s supervised, where you write papers and do exams. That’s going to cost money. But if you’re serious about developing knowledge of a field and want a degree or credit, you go to the Division of Continuing Education.That means you have to be there and submit work every week. There is feedback from the teaching staff every week. There are summaries, requests for more clarification or more work. You can have individual chats with your teaching fellows. You can write to me, and I’ll answer, and so on and so forth.RW: There’s a lot of hype in the tech industry regarding MOOCs being the future of education, with the coursework and discussion all being conducted online.PKB: If we think about what the online format is best for, it’s not discussion. It’s lecture, particularly in the way in which edX has developed very sound approaches to giving lectures. Which is, you don’t lecture people for more than five to seven minutes.At every section of the lecture, you stop, pause, give students a chance to answer questions and think about what they heard, and then move on. That’s a really effective method of learning. It’s so much better than cramming for a final exam. That’s really good online. But discussion between the professor and the students, that’s so much better in person.Now, that doesn’t mean you might not have courses where you only have online discussion, and no intervention from the teaching staff. No doubt that will happen, but you go back to the thing where … if you have 25,000 students, you’re not going to talk to them all.RW: What are the particular challenges that Harvard faces with online education, whether in the near or long term?PKB: I think the challenge is to make sure Harvard is offering those courses the same way we would offer courses on campus. They’re hard, challenging, and not for everybody. And we will continue to work hard to maintain that quality. So the challenge for us is gathering the course material, preparing it, testing it. The number of faculty who want to be doing this is very large. [But] our bandwidth for helping them do the things they want to do is narrower.RW: Does Harvard have a specific goal here? Is it a pedagogical, to move education forward? Is it to make excellence in education more available and affordable? Ultimately, what does Harvard hope to achieve? PKB: We hope to add to the sum of knowledge and understanding of the world. We hope to make it possible for people around the world to learn, to advance. This is part of the larger mission of the university.However, I should say right away that we do have criteria here. We ask in every instance—before we try to develop a course or a module—how is this going to be turned back on the classroom? How will it help you be a better teacher here at home? That’s just as important, just as much a part of the equation. How we transform teaching internally is very important.RW: Where do you see online education going in the future—say, five or 10 years out?PKB: Well, the question is fair enough. But I can’t answer it at the moment, because even here, we are at the beginning of this. We have a very fortunate situation of this being funded by the universities involved. We certainly have to think about revenue generation, but we don’t have to make a profit. And we don’t have to have everything decided right at this moment.The fact that MIT and Harvard can afford to do this without expecting that they’re going to make money, as we try to figure out how we can actually do good things—for our students and for the world. And that’s superb. I think we’re so lucky as Americans to be in that situation with private universities that can afford to do that.RW: What do you think of for-profit companies getting involved in online education? It seems there’s a battle between education’s traditionalists versus the would-be innovators. What do you make of that?PKB: I think that in the for-profit world, you’re right. They are a lot of people looking to see how this can deliver return on investment. My impression—and again I speak for myself—is that in the short term, we don’t expect any return on investment. We want to understand how we can be better educators, and how students can learn in an effective way that doesn’t require cramming at the last moment and forgetting 70 percent of what they’ve learned. We want to do our jobs better.If you can say anything about [Harvard] President Faust and Alan Garber, the provost, it’s that they care about the mission. They care about what the university exists for in the first place. And they exist for the advancement of knowledge and the possibility of sharing and learning.Peter K. Bol is the Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages Civilization and Director of the Center for Geographic Analysis. He has chaired the Harvard Academic Computing Committee and provided one of HarvardX’s first online courses on China. Currently, as the new vice provost of advances in learning, he oversees Harvard’s online educational initiatives, including those from edX/HarvardX and the Harvard Extension School’s Division of Continuing Education, among others. Feature image by Flickr user rp72. All other images courtesy of Peter K. Bol ReadWrite: How would you define the challenges presented by educational technology, online courses, etc.? Peter K. Bol: Let me make the following distinction—and here, I’m not speaking for Harvard. I’m speaking for myself, so I have the freedom to change my mind as the data persuades me. Around 95% of the people who sign up for these online courses apparently are not interested in getting a certificate or credential. [But] the people who do want the credential, who want some recognition, is still a very large number. We need to be sure that those people are offered the same level of rigor and demand that we offer our own students. At the same time, we have to recognize that the vast majority of people are not there with the same commitment. They may be there because they’re interested in the subject, or want to try their hand at some of the assessments and exercises.RW: For people interested in academic rigor, is that even possible in an online setting?PKB: Of course it’s possible. For example, in some fields, the whole issue is the mastery of the amount of information. In other fields—[such as] the social sciences and humanities—it’s not really the mastery of information. The information is useful because it gives you stuff to think with.But your views, interpretations, discussions with other people—you’re trying to work out what something means, how to understand it, interpret it, explain it and account for it. These are the things that are best suited for discussion.One of the things we’re doing is creating very serious discussion forums. We have a combination of set topics for each week or each module. [But] we simply do not have the manpower to try to maintain a discussion with everybody. Can’t be done. We do know, however, that the number of people participating in discussion forums keeps rising during the course. And people are interested in talking to other people.Now, what can we do to steer that? We use online lectures to allow us to give up lecturing in the classroom at Harvard and, instead, devote what used to be lecture time to serious in-depth discussion for the students.RW: That would be the flipped classroom model.PKB: That’s right. Those discussions have to be structured too. We have to know what questions we’ll ask them, which we’ll follow up with, and what possible views we hope will be articulated, and so on. So we filmed those discussions. People in the online forum, in the massive open online course, can also see how exactly that question was discussed in the Harvard classroom by the professor and the students.RW: What are the hallmarks of success for these flipped classrooms?PKB: I was speaking to a group of directors of graduate studies, and somebody asked, “How do you measure success?” I think we measure success by student learning. We know because we’ve actually polled the students on this, and they really like the online lectures. It allows them to go back; they’re shorter than the usual lecture; they can freeze and go back on the tape.They appreciate the fact that online lectures have good visual explanation, and they like that we put up bullet points when we’re talking, so they know exactly where we are. center_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… This post is part of Hire Education, an ongoing series in which ReadWrite examines technological innovation in education and how it’s reshaping universities that are preparing students for a transformed workforce.If you believe the proponents of online education, universities are in the midst of a full-blown technological transformation—one that will shortly unseat traditional coursework and liberate higher learning from the shackles of those expensive, ivy-strewn halls of academia.But the view from those hallowed halls is very different. Harvard’s Peter K. Bol, the newly appointed vice provost of advances in learning, argues that technology doesn’t actually change that much for students, that degrees and credits still matter, and that the best way to get them is … well, to attend an institution like Harvard. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#education#Hire Education#MOOCs#University last_img read more