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Joordens wins Gates Foundation grant

Steve Joordens is interested in using online technology to build critical thinking skills in students. (Photo by Ken Jones)

UTSC Psychology Professor Steve Joordens will develop an online learning course as part of a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“It feels like education is changing,” Joordens says. “It’s a fun thing to be in the middle of.”

Joordens is the developer of an online education tool called peerScholar, which is being used by universities in Canada and the United States. This semester he developed an introduction to psychology course that was offered completely online, including lectures, quizzes, and exercises.

Under the Gates Foundation grant, Joordens will create an introduction to psychology course that will be offered over Coursera, a consortium of 33 universities including U of T which offers free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Joordens says that he’s especially interested in trying to integrate tools similar to peerScholar in MOOCs, which would allow students to learn from the evaluations of other people in the class. He says that it’s important to figure out ways to teach skills such as critical thinking and effective writing in massive online courses.

The same grant will fund U of T’s Jeffrey Rosenthal and Alison Gibbs to develop a course in statistical science for Coursera.




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