Interview with Eric Mazur: Socrates Meets the Web!

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Supporting online learning

Eric Mazur, Harvard Applied Physics Chair, shares his pioneering work supporting online learning.  Eric is a true seminal thinker about expanding the boundaries of learning by empowering students. Think Socrates meets the Internet!


  1. Outstanding dialogue.

    Hope you are well, Alan!

    Ric Seager

  2. “The real value of a teacher is not transferring knowledge but is the diagnostic skill of understanding how their students learn.”

    I liked this view of teachers as coaches for students. It highlights just how challenging this job is despite what people think.

  3. This podcast opened up my understanding on the perspective of educators and their roles in student learning. I also thoroughly enjoyed the conversation around student collaboration because as a current student myself, I have learned so much from my peers. While our education system is individualistic, I believe that there should be more opportunities for students to work together as it allows them to learn from one another, see different perspectives, and contribute to their learning without feeling pressured or put on the spot. In my experience, I feel more confident and validated being in a course with more collaboration than in an individual-oriented course. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Would online course affect family and parents in a positive way or not? And how would you deal with the conflicts happened between children and parents during the process of taking online course at home?

  5. Thank you Eric for sharing how students are assisting other students. I agree there is so much power in peers supporting each other. You mention how you hear students have an “aha” moment and through fragmented sentences, they are able to complete full ideas. I agree that students are able to speak to each other in an insightful way and might feel more confident in asking for help. Often, students are afraid to speak out in a large online forum, and thus smaller student groups allow for more comfortable dialogue. “We work together, we look things up,” Eric said, and thus students should be learning these tools: teamwork, online searching, and communication.

  6. Hey,
    Really appreciated the idea around collaboration, critical thinking, and being able to use knowledge and resources that students have access to rather than trying to funnel knowledge through what a student can memorize and know without outside help.
    Probably the most impactful topic for me was the collaboration aspect, as I’ve had a fair bit of experience learning in collaborative settings through my university classes.
    Teaching students using these methods and creating tools that use the ability of students to work together to learn topics is a really big idea and I hope it permeates in the educational community more broadly than we’re currently seeing.

  7. There was one thing in particular that was said that stuck out to me and that was, “the real value of a teacher is not transferring knowledge, but it is more of a diagnostic skill of understanding how their students learn. So they can personalize instruction, given that different students learn in different ways.” (21:00) I liked this so much, because this is often times missed in the definition of a teacher. Connecting with kids and understanding why they are who they are is the a skill too many teachers miss out on.

  8. Hi Ric, All is well in my little corner of the world. Thanks for asking and listening!!!

  9. I agree that allowing students to work at their own pace could benefit students greatly. I think their is too much emphasis in learning that you need to keep up or not getting somewhere as fast as someone else is a failure. I like the way he talks about the connection when students talk and learn from one another. When I was in high school one of my teachers talked about how when they have discussions in class he can guess when students will have that “ah-ha” moment they talk about in this podcast. So we know this works yet we do not do our best to facilitate this kind of learning.

    Another quote that stuck out to me is when he talks about cheating and he is all for it. That is all for students working together and learning from one another I agree with this point as I think if you stop calling it cheating and help students work together than instead of getting people copying answers they will start to teach each other. It we take pressure off of getting it the answer or the grade and have students get to a point of wanting to learn.


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