Based at the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida, Cancer Ecology is a small research group led by David Basanta. We are mathematical modellers who work with biologists and clinicians, trying to understand the ecology of tumors and the evolutionary dynamics of cancer progression and resistance to treatment.

Opencourseware and the future of teaching

I was browsing a while ago the New York Times and found this article about a 71 years old physics professor from MIT who became a web celebrity due to the MIT Opencourseware initiative.

What caught my interest were the comments of some of the subscribers who emailed him. These comments, all very positive, were about how inspiring they found the lectures and what a positive opinion they have acquired on MIT as a consequence of it. This programme is no longer limited to MIT and recently Yale started offering something similar.

With a few years delay over the rest of the world I managed to find myself thrilled at the opportunities this represents for university teaching. Most of us who live to do research but once in a while (or way to often, depending on the situation) have to teach find very little motivation to do so. It is not very valuable from the career point of view and in many cases we don’t get many or motivated students. But if your lecture is in OpenCourseware (or a similar system) there is a good chance that we might be just a bit more careful when preparing the lectures. Not only that, but knowing that many people from around the world (some of them experts in the field, some of them potential collaborators, some of them future students) could be watching and that these people will tend to be highly motivated people then things start to change. Add to that the fact Universities like MIT are likely to find out that this system is not only a moral duty but also a very effective way to promote the University and its reputation (see all these I love MIT in the article_). This should encourage universities to pay more attention (and money) to people that can be popular lecturers and thus able to raise the visibility of the university and bring in more students (since these eStudents might become fee paying students later on). I think we might be seeing the reinvention of teaching in Universities.

Facts about prostate cancer

Mobility and the rock-paper-scissors game