Interview and podcast with me, about on-line education

By Jeff Young at the Chronicle, here is one excerpt:

Jeff Young: …I asked Cowen what has surprised him most as his effort has evolved.

Tyler Cowen: I wouldn’t quite call it a surprise, but I’ve been consistently impressed over the last 10 years, more than 10 years, if you make consistently smart content on the Internet, whatever form, there is an audience there. Whether it’s MOOCS or blogs or whatever, YouTube, there really are people just hungry for stuff. How far you can push them is really impressive.

They don’t have to get every bit of it to take away a lot, and for you to give like your heart and soul, like here’s what I think is the important version of the topic, is better to, like, “Oh, are they going to understand this term?” or “Can I say elasticity?” or “Do they know this?” I think it’s a little bit of poison when you think too much that way. I’m not saying overwhelm them with words they don’t know, but if you believe in the material, I think a lot of them are going to get it. It’s like one thing I’ve really learned.

And this:

TC: …People have learned economics is about a debate, and in fact we have a new class of video. The first one just went up an hour ago. Alex and I debate education. How much is it signaling, and how much is it you actually learn?

Jeff Young: Wow. You mean university education?

Tyler Cowen: Yeah, to teach topics as a debate is an underexplored method, and we’re going to do more of this, so look at that video. It’s just Alex and I. We talk to each other. We sort of call each other names in good humor. The idea is that people maybe learn better through conflict.

You know you get some dry presentation, you sort of vaguely nod, but you never know what’s really at stake here. If you don’t know what’s at stake or why someone might disagree, maybe you don’t understand it. To try to teach this way, we’ll see how they’re received, but it’s one of the things we have coming next.

Do read the whole thing, or listen.


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