Tag Archives: Inside Higher Ed

Education, 1972

Missed this a few weeks back, but at Inside Higher Ed author Ry Rivand covered a summit hosted by Harvard and MIT entitled Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education.  While the proceedings were not quotable to the press, Rivand and other journalists had full access to presenters, professors and other dignitaries invited to discuss this future.

My focus as a researcher is on how massive learning technologies affect instruction and the instructor; contemporary learning theory puts a great deal of importance on creating a learning environment (that could turn into a community), experiencing learning through authentic hands-on projects, and contextualizing information.  xMOOCs, as they have been sold, herald pedagogy but present a learning system of short videos and interactive quizzes, which original MOOC visionary George Siemens labels a return to 1960s educational theory and pedagogy*.

*If you didn’t click that link, do it.  Siemens has a fantastic idea on how MOOCs could utilize gaming theory from World of Warcraft or Call of Duty in establishing grouping for projects, the sort of thing that education professor and community learning researcher Linda Polin sees as an authentic use of gamification in learning.

Anyone thinking Siemens’ quote is overly critical or cynical should view Rivand’s direct quote of Anant Agarwal, the director of MOOC provider EdX:

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Remedial MOOCs?

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.”