Open online education – can it replace face-to-face classroom education and learning, in HE?
Here in a post on open-online-courses-are-not-subsitutes-for-classroom-learning by Joshua Kim, he says
Efforts such as the Harvard/MIT edX project are wonderful developments, but massively open online courses are not substitutes for the learning that takes place in traditional courses (whether delivered as face-to-face, online, or in a blended method). Authentic learning requires a two-way dialogue between student and instructor. College teaching at its best is much more than the delivery of content: It’s about the co-construction of knowledge with students and faculty. If you believe that one of the most important attributes of post-secondary education is the development of relationships between faculty and students, experts and learners, then the advent of massively open online courses does not represent a substitute for the traditional course.
Are massively open online courses substitutes for the learning that takes place in traditional courses?
Yes, and no. No, there are certain sort of learning that are still only possible in traditional courses, such as face-to-face interaction, with immediate questions and answers, and feedback with the instructors or fellow students. This depends on the type of interaction and engagement that both the instructors and students want, and need in the course, based on the course content and context. There are however, not that much difference in terms of assessment, if there are assignments, tests, examinations held to check the achievement of outcomes or demonstration of performance.
Yes. Authentic learning requires a two-way dialogue between student and instructor. But, is that enough? Our researches from past MOOCs (connectivist MOOCs in particular) reveal the importance of social, teaching and cognitive presence for the meaningful learning. So, the mere dialogue between student and instructor, whether it is traditional or online education does not always provide or guarantee the “authentic learning”. Rather it is the “multi-dialogue” among student and instructor(s) and other students, especially in the case of MOOC that would contribute to a deep, meaningful, and valued educational and learning experience.
One of the most important attributes of post-secondary education is the development of relationships between faculty and students, experts and learners. Yes. But there is something more in and behind MOOCs. There are also development of relationships between students and students, and other “learners” and experts that are within, or lying in the edge of MOOCs. The presence of knowledgeable others and participants in providing feedback or comments about what they think and learn about MOOCs are also relevant to the learning within community or network environment. I am particularly impressed with some of the comments posted in the blog:
In many MOOCs, there are many opportunities to engage the instructors and other students in two-way communication. Discussion forums and IRC chats moderated by community TAs and professors provide opportunities to ask and answer questions. Online student-led study discussion groups and local student meet-ups create further opportunities for students to form friendships, collaborate, and further engage the course content. In terms of interactivity, online platforms are often superior to those in traditional institutions, allowing students to participate in the discussion at any time of day with a self-motivated group of peers. Recently, MOOCs have utilized live discussion sessions lead by the course instructor using video chat as well as peer-reviewed assignments, further blurring the line between online courses and a real classroom experience. (Feynman Liang)
Traditional forms of education might be considered preferable, but really, wake up – traditional education is irrelevant if you cannot enrol in the first place, due to monetary, geological or other restrictions. MOOCs are not discriminatory in these respects.
The reality is, online learning really is teaching bigger numbers of people, at a faster rate and a lower cost. It is also cutting away some of the unnecessary ‘fat’ that comes with traditional learning.
If the knowledge is imparted, and the learning is effected, no matter the method, what is really important is what the student does with their new knowledge. (Darren McWilliams)
Here are some student responses on some proto-type courses on MITx. There are many discussion forums relating to the merits and limitations of e or online learning, as a substitute to classroom learning.
I think there are both pros and cons with each type of learning – traditional and online learning (and the MOOCs).
Even with the MOOCs , there are different approaches (i.e. instructivist MOOCs, connectivist MOOCs).
It is never easy to compare and contrast between the two, though there has been many attempts in critically examining the pedagogy (of connectivist MOOCs), in conducting researches, and the experiences and backing here on the super MOOCs.
What MOOCs could offer is the Community that would be “sustainable” even after the completion of the course as I shared here.
The importance of discourse in MOOC is not about what is right or wrong about MOOCs, but what values MOOCs could bring to the world of education, and how the ideologies could be identified and understood, and be evaluated accordingly.
Disclosure: As an educator, I am commenting on MOOCs both from a learner and an educator point of views.
Photo credit: From Google
I will leave it to you to continue your exploration and sharing of opinions on this.