#Oped12 The Future of Higher Education and the MOOCs

With thanks to  John Mak for this post:

This talk by Michele Pistone discusses the future of higher education, which has been based on the same educational model for more than 100 years.


But the status quo is about to be disrupted, by the Internet and those educators — including new competitors — who would unleash its potential. Higher education institutions at a whole have not adequately recognized the threat to the status quo, or come close to responding adequately to it. In truth, responding adequately will be very difficult, because higher ed face a classic innovator’s dilemma. (TED video description)

There are many questions that relate to the future of higher education:

1. What would be the future role of Higher Education Institutions and Universities in the global and local communities?

2. What would they do, in times of rapid changes in society and a quest for more responsive to the needs and expectations of the society, government, learners and educators?

3. How would they do it differently?

One of the significant responses to these questions is the MOOC movement, with the introduction of x MOOCs by some of the prestigious Higher Education Institutions and Universities.

Here in an overview of MOOC, a typical MOOC likes Coursera is run based on the following design and delivery

With Coursera, the faculty member developing a course can either record lectures as presented to a class of students, or can make the recording in a studio or other location. The professor can then supplement the video with assessments—like quizzes—that can be automatically graded using Coursera software. The courses also include mastery-building interactive assignments and collaborative online forums. Time commitment varies; courses can range from a few weeks to over two months.

Ray Schroeder elaborates in this post on “how did we get here in the first place” – with MOOC, and what will happen next.  Ray explains that maturing of the internet, the recession that happened a few years ago and the rate of increase in college tuition and fees in recent years have led to the development and demand of such xMOOCs.

He further concludes: “These announcements point to the potential for a radically different higher education marketplace, disrupted by MOOCs. Classes with massive enrollment from a relatively small group of providers may dominate the market for many courses, and perhaps even degree programs. Colleges and universities may become brokers of credentials gathered from many sources, in many formats.”  I think this would soon have a multiplier effect, where more institutions would establish their own MOOCs or join the current MOOCs partnership, in order to be the leaders in this MOOC movement.

In this Schaffhauser, Dian. “Education Leaders See MOOCs, Distance Learning as the Future of Higher Ed.” Campus Technology 20 Aug. 2012. Web.http://campustechnology.com/articles/2012/08/20/education-leaders-see-moocs-distance-learning-as-the-future.aspx

“The overall findings of the survey stated in the form of an equation might be: Today’s tough economy + market dynamics + technological advances = a higher education environment by 2020 in which 1) most people will get at least some of their education in massive open online courses; 2) a fairly large percentage will get all of their education in MOOCs; and 3) only a select few are likely to be able to afford to experience a fully campus-based, face-to-face education,” said principal author Janna Quitney Anderson, director of Imagining the Internet and associate professor in Elon’s School of Communications

I have been wondering how these MOOCs would evolve.  It seems that the current trend of more and more higher education institutions joining in the x MOOCs would likely exhibit the patterns as shown in the figure below, where such disruptive innovations (MOOCs) would soon out-perform the higher education institutions in a number of respects, especially in terms of the number of registrations of the students to MOOCs on a global basis, the attraction of global learners to those higher education institutions, and the branding in an international market, in the adoption of innovations in education and online education.

However, there may be challenges to such xMOOCs when it comes to the quality accreditation (such as those plagiarism and identity problems), and the sustainability of the business models (i.e. how it would be  financed in the long run).  There are also numerous critics on the pedagogy employed in xMOOCs, where concerns are made on the push education model where knowledge is pre-packaged and broadcasted, basically on a knowledge transfer model from the professor to the learners, with machine grading for the assessment.  It seems that there are little ACTUAL interaction between participants and the professor throughout the course, especially when the course participants amounted to tens of thousands.  See my previous post on the merits and demerits of the MOOCs.

In this connection, it may be important to speculate the future of MOOCs using the Product Life Cycle concept.  There are lots of assumptions behind this Product Life Cycle, and that we need more information in order to complete the Cycle.

First, what would be the Product Life Cycle like?

I reckon the current x MOOCs are at the stage of growth, though the business models are still emerging, see this post and this post on the possible models.

Institutions and MOOCs providers would likely refine their MOOCs as more experiences are gained, based on the feedback of the professors and learners, and the findings from the researches.  Also, there would be more intense competition among the different MOOCs providers in showcasing their brands, together with the “travelling” free study groups and free webinars and conferences to further attract new institutions on board and new learners to participate in the courses.  This might take two to three years for the growth to fully develop.

I would speculate that after 2 years of growth, in around 2014, the MOOCs would mature into global platforms where there would be different categories, with x MOOCs, c MOOCs and hybrid c & x MOOCs etc. all building their reputation in a global market.

What would happen next?  What do you think?

Photo credit: this post.

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The Digital Natives / Digital Immigrants Distinction Is Dead, Or At Least Dying

With thanks to Ora Baumgarten for this post:

Doug Holton writes about the discussion over the last few years regarding digital natives and with increased use of the internet, web and other technologies wonders about the relevance of a distinction being made. He questions whether persistent use of the terms has led to excusing bad teaching practices. He provides a list of relevant resources in the remainder of the post which includes criticism of the terms and also links to a number of journal articles around the topic.

Even Marc Prensky, who came up with the digital natives / immigrants distinction, wrote last year that it is at the very least growing less relevant.

The list

TEACHING AND LEARNING USING TECHNOLOGY : Lessons to be learnt

Professor Yashwant RAMMA in Le Mauricien writes about the changes and how they might impact students in Mauritius, noting that the majority of ICT use in schools has been mostly PowerPoint. He looks at contextual knowledge, pedagogy and technology – noting that concepts across different areas of knowledge are not connected in teaching areas.

Technology can serve the purpose of helping learners make sense out of nonsense (all the stuff they have to study). We should not forget that a classroom is composed of learners of different abilities, normally categorized in three groups: low, average and high abilities. This means that a teacher can expect that learning will occur if only he/she engages learners…

There is also a fascinating discussion in the comments questioning the impact of technologies in learning in other parts of the world and what is the value.

In full

 

Reflections on Education

Sue Magruder takes a look back at the changes that have happened since she was teaching in Missouri in the the 1950s. Her first post was working with students from different local rural communities who came to school in one place:

I learned more than I taught.  I learned how to approach parents whose language I did not understand to seek permission for their daughter to take part in a National Folk Festival.  I learned how to deal with foster parents who cared little for the children in their charge.  I learned when it was appropriate to call the state patrol when violence erupted with an older, unstable student.  I learned how to Bunny Hop down the hall with other teachers to relieve tension.

Later on in the post she takes a look at educational philosophy and the emphasis on test scores, wondering about their value in education of a child.

In full

MTS starts lessons of internet-literacy for Belarusian school students

Mikhail Doroshevich reported on a Belarus education project in October which encourages children to learn about the internet. The childrencan learn from a national singer and tv star about behaviour on the internet and keeping themselves safe. The overall aim is to improve internet literacy:

“Research shows that children start using the Internet at the age of 9-10, with every second kid using Internet every day. Unfortunately, most children use Internet without any control from the adults. MTS has launched a large project and will carry out similar lessons aimed at grade schoolers in many Belarusian schools. This will improve Internet-literacy of the young generation” – MTS’ leading public communications specialist Tatiana Kyrbat said.

In full

Red herrings in education reform

Clarke L Reubel has been teaching English at a high school for 14 years and reflects on educational reform, drawing a distinction betweenissue which have focused on reforming specific aspects and a wider philosophical view of improving education. He notes that many changes of curriula and standards and scores have resulted in many different systems leading to additional training and resources being required He highlights issues with structural reforms being drawn into continuous cycles regardless of the type of school

Our system stifles independent thinking among leadership the same way teachers are tasked with subverting critical thought in our students. Those of us who resist become agitators, drawing the ire of a frustrated public who consider us problems rather than potential solutions, which leads to increasingly adamant demands to rein us in.

Charter and private schools are not immune to this cycle. They are products of it, and vouchers, like merit pay, will only serve to legitimize the fundamental flaws in the current system. Ironically, demanding structural changes without philosophical adjustment contributes to the structural problems.

In full

ten bucks for a school

Xaviera Medina de Albrand profiles the work of Marie Da Silva who lost many of her close family to HIV whilst living in Malawi. Marie’s mother provided space in her home to start a small school for students who could not afford private education.

Where once there was a garage or a dinning room, today there is a classroom. Children and new students sat on the floor, with no desks or any type of school furniture. Marie black painted some walls to turn them into blackboards and start classes. “At first the children paid some money for school, but then, in conversations with my mother we thought that if our own orphaned nephew and niece were not paying, so, other children who were orphans too, had not to pay. So the Jacaranda school became fully free “.

Marie also created a foundation to support students who could not afford to eat and highlighted their situation whilst working in New York as a nanny to a well known tv presenter.

The post continues the story of successes from students at both the foundation and the school and how it has provided support for their neighbouring communities

In full

Public Health sector boosted with e-learning graduates

An OGMGC article reports on a recent initiative with the Ministry of Health in Guyana where healthcare professionals have completed a Public Primary Healthcare program through eLearning.

The boost to the public health sector was made possible through e-learning courses – Renewal of Primary Health Care and Leaders in International Health – that were channelled through the Virtual Campus for Public Health Online Courses

They see this as a route to expanding the development and learning for healthcare professionals so that it becomes an everyday experience

In full

Why MOOCs will not save universities

Dr Stefan Popenici reviews discussions about economics, moocs and universities’ role in changing themselves or having less impact on what could be described as education. He highlights differences in perceptions of academic roles, their status and influences on changing academic practices. He looks at the current economic models and management practices where risk taking by both academics and students has not been ecnouraged or supported.

He looks at the ‘ideas’ initiatives which churn out ideas and describes how a push for greater efficiency is removing the conversation away from universities

These forums of ideas and debate have no equivalent initiative organized by an academic institution in the last decade. This used to be an integral part of any university mission, but the culture of debate, inquiry, exploration and public conversation crumbled under the pressure of efficiency. Universities are not capable nor even interested to have something similar and most academic conferences are now paper-presentation-marathons with little if any discussion about what goes today as serious research

He goes on to look at Moocs and questions the economic viability, the engagement of large audiences and reflects on the ability of tools and platforms to realistically change the future.