The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering a new certificate option for a popular online philosophy course through its MITx platform. It’s the first massive open online course (MOOC) to provide students with the opportunity to have written assignments graded by professional philosophers.
“Listening to lectures and reading books is great, but philosophy is all about taking complex ideas and organizing them in a simple way,” Caspar Hare, the MIT professor running the course, said in an article for eCampus News. “You learn by writing, specifically writing to someone.”
Philosophy: God Knowledge and Consciousness introduces students to the basic topics considered by philosophers and the development of critical reasoning and argumentative skills. Writing helps combine those skills and feedback from trained philosophers lets students know how well they actually understood the material.
“Writing is essential to developing these skills,” Hare continued. “Just answering multiple-choice questions isn’t enough. You need to interact and bounce ideas off of other people. And from MIT’s perspective, the new feature helps bring to light different ideas from people with different cultural backgrounds. Writing enables these insights to pass through the community, which benefits everyone.”