Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Podcast: Prof. Chris Cramer on his MOOC experience

About a month ago, I talked to University of Minnesota theoretical chemistry professor Chris Cramer (and Twitter star) about his experience teaching a Massive Open Online Course, or a MOOC on statistical thermodynamics. It was really interesting -- we talked about the structure of the course, its economics and the future of higher education:


0:00-1:30: Introduction, what is a MOOC?
1:30: How many students did he have?
3:50: From MOOC skeptic to MOOC dabbler
5:00: Who took his course?
7:35: How will this affect higher education?
12:00: Will MOOCs ultimately make money?
13:25: How does the Minnesota state legislature feel about MOOCs?
18:00: Will this be used to force down costs?
20:40: What does this mean for young professors?
29:30: Prof. Cramer predicts possible futures for higher education
30:50: Has there been peer review of MOOCs?
33:40: Prof. Cramer's recommendations for young faculty and MOOCs

Thanks for Professor Cramer for the conversation -- stay tuned for Thursday, when Prof. Cramer talks about his very interesting career in the Army! 


  1. Thanks for posting this - found it really interesting, as I'm hoping to pursue an academic career.

  2. Thanks for posting this.

    Prof. Cramer portrayed community college professorsas having low salaries, but this may vary widely from state to state. In California, for example, my understanding is that these are well-paid positions with highly competitive job searches.

  3. A good point. I think I said "lower salaries", but in the absence of a context, that's not very informative, is it? Community college instructors can indeed be well compensated, which is appropriate given their often very high qualifications. My comment was motivated by having seen for years now the annual salary reports of, say, the Chronicle of Higher Education, that indicate that, within the context of higher education alone, salaries of faculty at community colleges tend to be at the lowest end of the pay scale, while those at R1 institutions are at the highest end (with private schools topping the list).

  4. I saw the youtube of Chris igniting Rust and Al. Fantastic. When will he teach this again?

  5. Current plan is to launch again in March 2014, but that's not yet official, as I'm evaluating all the other things I'm agreeing to do in the next month or two...