Two things you can be sure of when you teach online via a campus platform:

1. Your university is watching.
2. There’s a written record of everything you say.

All sorts of eyes are peering into your online course: Your students, naturally; but also university administrators, on-campus tech people, the for-profit firm your school has probably hired to manage various course functions, etc. This is not a … freedom-rich environment. Not for blowing off the course and giving everyone an A, and not for sexual harassment.

MIT has removed the lectures of a retired faculty member from a popular online learning platform after determining that he had sexually harassed a woman on the Internet, the school’s News Office announced Monday.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology began investigating the matter after a learner on the platform MITx filed a complaint against Walter Lewin in October. According to the MIT News Office website, the alleged victim said the harassment began when she was a learner in one of Lewin’s online courses.

During the investigation, MIT also looked at additional interactions between Lewin and other online learners.

UD is guessing that the actual harassment occurred outside of the course’s comment threads; she’s guessing that some relatively light, slightly off-color badinage happened in those threads, and that the badinage at some point moved onto gchat or email exchanges… Though it’s always possible Lewin was stupid enough to put harassing words into the course interactions proper…

But anyway. Get a load of the picture the Globe ran with the piece!

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3 Responses to “Stupid smart people; and an amazing choice of photo.”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    She was a *learner* in one of his classes? When did all the students become learners? Not all my students are learners, let me tell you, but then I am not at MIT.

  2. Greg Says:

    A human pendulum! Here, I’m only going to suggest, not fully make, the swinger joke.

  3. charlie Says:

    Walter Lewin? He was a legend regarding his lectures and demonstrations. A few years ago, I watched some of his on line lectures, and thought this is how I should teach. Guess not, if he’s harassing students on-line, what else could he have done?

    But, the question is, should his lectures, from years ago, be taken down? I know it’s bad marketing to connect school to guy, but, if anyone watches the videos, they’re outstanding, at least to me. They’re very good supplemental lectures for those in the physical sciences. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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