Science’s dirty secrets, and MOOCs.

by reestheskin on 11/02/2015

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An article in PNAS highlighting poor standards of reproducibility of many published finding, links to a John Hopkins ‘MOOC’ on ‘Data Science’. The course includes modules on R programming, experimental design and analysis. It all looks nicely laid out, although initially I thought you had to pay to run through the course — this is however not the case. You just have to pay if you want certification. This is via the Coursera platform. I know there are other courses covering some of the same topics, and it strikes me that teaching statistics without small group interaction is a hard task. But surely we must see this approach spread to use at the undergraduate level in subjects like medicine, where the best students will be able to demonstrate that they can acquire skills without the limitations of course structures designed for those who are less capable. But more importantly, it really is not hard to imagine that this approach will be superior to our current attempts to cover topics in which medical schools appear unable to invest in teaching staff or high level materials.  I am quite optimistic about the latter but less so about such courses eradicating  dodgy science.

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