Back to the theoretical grind, I was alerted to a research article on heutagogy as an alternative to andragogy. If that sentence is full of ambiguous words, it was for me too — both are theories of learning relating to adult education, a field in edu which supposes that adults learn in a manner different from children (which is a lot to suppose, but makes sense at first glance). While MOOC marketing departments have heralded the xMOOC’s ability to let an intrepid 12 year old take a Stanford course in computer programming (and, as a field, we need to see how Code Academy fits into the MOOC archetype), the history behind MOOCs comes either from traditional higher education (xMOOC) or distance education designed for higher education (cMOOC). Because traditional higher ed is seeing an upward shift in median age of student (and distance ed has always seen an older student population than in traditional ed), the theory the MOOC movement built on (or will build upon) needs to account for an adult population. Not surprisingly, little of the little MOOC research flows down this path. That leaves it to us to research, code and crunch. Getting into the work by Lisa Marie Blaschke… Continue reading
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is sponsoring 10 grants (up to $50K) for institutions developing MOOC-style courses for “high demand, general education” courses, sourcespeak for assistive remedial work. Inside Higher Ed digs into the article in their call for proposals.
The foundation notes they do not expect these courses to stand alone; rather, they should supplement existing institutional courses that provide faculty access research has shown is necessary in remedial education. The grants will provide the Foundation an opportunity to research the effect of MOOCs on remedial education, giving nearly a dozen case studies and perhaps hundreds of thousands of subjects to garner data from.
Is this an example of an AI-MOOC, whose pedagogy builds from industrial and self-paced learning (which would bode ominous for the success of at-risk groups), a cMOOC, which relies heavily on peer-to-peer interaction (but lacks the structure commonly found in remedial education), or does it become an example of blended format, mixing MOOC-based online learning with traditional face to face time? If it is the third choice, is the MOOC a supplemental tool for a teacher, or does it follow the flipped classroom model, turning the face-to-face time into tutoring time (and rendering the necessity of a pedagogically-trained professional obsolete)?
Outside of those debates, a very interesting quote from Paul LeBlanc, the President of Southern New Hampshire University, a school which the article states is growing its online education program at a rapid pace:
“The innovations so far exhibited with MOOCs are all about opening up elite brands to the masses and education for free,” he said via e-mail. “Neither of those innovations, which so captivates the press and others, actually addresses the real tough teaching and learning challenges at the heart of remedial education.”