What is really revolutionizing education? Part 1

How is such “education revolution” foregrounded? As I have shared in my past post, it was likely the result of butterfly effect, where small changes at a local level, with lower-level components (agents, networks etc.) gathering enough momentum to snowball into an education movement, based on networks, communities and platforms (MOOCs)

Normal education runs anomalies and enters a crisis, which in turns leads to an “education revolution”.  Adapted from a review on the book by Thomas Kuhn.

If MOOCs are revolutionizing education, what are the revolutionary parts of such online-education?  Who are actually revolting against whom?  Is technology going to revolutionize the whole education?

Pedagogy.  MOOCs relate to the use of technology and innovation in education.  The importance of technology has been justified as a push to change the pedagogy as in MOOCs.  The need to process large masses of students, requiring automatic control and monitoring with minimal human intervention.  Flipped learning appears as a revolution in pedagogy, not because it is more efficient, but because it is needed to handle large number of students (Epelboin, 2012).

In this post MOOCs relating to the innovation:

the majority of the innovation has gone into the technology, not creating better content or more effective learning experiences. Most of these online courses are basically video replays of existing lectures with accompanying class PowerPoint slides, notes and assignments. That’s not really new; people have been doing that, beginning with TV, as far back as the 1960s.

To what extent is this flipped classroom and flipped academics innovative?

Flipped classroom may be a good start to initiate change in online education.

A lot of “short lecture based videos”, with quizzes, feedback, learning analytics, etc. may help students in learning content knowledge more readily.   But should Higher Education be contended with the learning of the mere content knowledge?

Should we go far beyond the flipping the classroom if we are to fully “revolutionize” Higher Education?

In my previous post the solution may not lie with the flipping the classroom:

2. The participants are coming from a diverse background (or even from global networks), and that openness, diversity, autonomy, and interactivity and connectivity are encouraged, supported and celebrated, not through a centralized system, but a decentralized network structure based on egalitarian principles.  This would ensure  a healthy growth within and amongst the networkers and networks, which collaborate and cooperate, rather than compete with each others.

3. The MOOC structure needs to be adaptive in nature, and may exhibit the complex adaptive system where the actors and system co-evolve as the course progresses. This means that a breakdown into mini-OOC may be more practical, especially if the interests of the participants are too diverse, leading to fragmentation of MOOC.  Traditional, objective and learning outcomes based online course may need to be changed in order to adapt to a high in flux, highly complex and adaptive sort of MOOC where each participant is developing their own unique PLN and “MOOC” in mind.  This alignment of online course to an emergent structure with MOOC will allow for a decrease in drop out amongst networkers, and an increase in understanding of the netagogy as proposed and problem and project based learning.  It could also be based on lots of fun, as shared by Michael Wesch and his students, producing the artifacts (videos and wikis) under Michael Wesch’s guide on the side when learning in an online environment.

4. That there are open educational resources available and open for access, remix, reuse and repurpose for the creation or feedforwarding of artifacts to the networks, as shared by Stephen Downes.

5. The teaching, social and cognitive presence are all supported throughout the MOOC and beyond.  These could be based on distance education pedagogy.  It would best be based on a learning experience as discussed by Jenny Mackness where the process is open and community based – with an emergent landscape of practice as value proposition and value creation with communities of practice.

Let’s use the semantic conditions of networks – on network properties developed by Stephen Downes to evaluate the MOOCs.

Openness.  To what extent are MOOCs open?  cMOOCs – yes, it seems to be fully opened, xMOOCs – may be open to a certain extent, as a lot of OER are still not yet open for the un-registered unless you are enrolled in the course.  The MOOC course content is open only to the participants, and cannot be re-mixed, re-used, or re-distributed in most cases.  There has been some attempt to have them licensed under Creative Commons Licence.  In this post:

MOOCs should choose to adopt an open license that meets their goals, but at minimum it is recommended that they choose a public, standardized license that grants to its users the “4Rs” of open content: the ability to Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute the resources. The more permissions MOOCs can offer on their content, the better.

What’s open? (see this slide)

- Open Access

- Freedom of Pace

- Freedom of Place

- freedom of time

- Open Programming

Openness to me is a journey, a never ending goal towards having open educational resources available for free, with free access to all the course resources, with open research and learning.

In this post by Keith on why MOOC matters:

Open – MOOCs can be open in at least two ways. All MOOCs are open access: students don’t have to enroll in the sponsoring organization, and they don’t have to pay, unless they want some kind of credit or certification. The main barrier to access is that students must have an Internet connected device. Second, some MOOCs are open content: they encourage students to take the course content, remix it, repurpose it, add their own content, and feed it back into the course ecosystem.

To sum up, openness in education may still be an Utopian rather than reality, when we examine the MOOCs under – Openness in Education Resources, Open Access and Open Teaching.

Diversity. It’s interesting to see not only new ideas evolving from the MOOC movements, but divergent development of the course design and delivery too, whereas if we treat each of the Udacity, Couresera, and edX as communities of networks, then it is no surprise that they are all intersecting in their attraction of  participants in a vast array of global network of learners and participants.  There are still a diverse range of entrants to join the MOOC bandwagon, like this new-college-promises-a-new-model-of-education.

Diversity in networks could mean a diverse source of opinions being solicited, encouraged and supported in those networks.  In education, it could also mean a diverse source of education provisions, without barriers.  In other situations, it could mean a diversity of participants who could each contribute to the network building and development.  See this paper on diversity.

Diversity in MOOCs such as CCK08 was also reflected in the learning preferences, individual needs and choices expressed by interview respondents. (Mackness et al 2010)

A quick move is for MOOC to be accepted as credit for university degree courses.  See this post.  Universities seem to have to adapt, innovate or die in response to the immense pressures to changes, and transform, in particular the tsunamis that emerged from MOOCs.

Stephen interpreted openness in a unique way:

Openness. We need to be open to new information. Closed systems become stagnant. Closed systems literally choke on their own waste. The system has to have input, has to have output. Raw materials that come in, finished product that goes out. The idea here is for any communication to happen there needs to be an open flow from one entity to the next entity. This is why so often we find openness in conflict with commercialization, because commercialization very often, not always, but very often is based on a model of closing what was previously open.

Autonomy.

This is a hard principle for many people to accept, but it’s the idea that each individual manages his or her own learning. As John Stuart Mill said, “Each person in a society perceives his own good in his own way.” This is essential to produce diversity. This is essential to produce communication and interaction. It is essential to support learning. (Downes 2013)

In a course where diversity, openness and autonomy is supported, with cooperation and collaboration in learning throughout the MOOCs, among the various agents- learners, co-learners, professors and other experts, from one network to another, where learners could be morphing along the networks, and communities:

 And one of the things you should notice is almost in the way I’m describing this, the activity of teachers becomes the same as the activity of students. They’re not two separate activities. They merge, they become one and the same activity. (Downes)

What are fascinating and revolutionizing?

1. Learning as conversation and action. The early MOOCs have planted the seeds, where now the flowers (various MOOCs) are blossoming.  There have never been ever before having so much conversations happening in different spaces, with praises and critics of all kinds, on the MOOCs.

2. Democratization of education.  Will MOOCs destroy academia?  This sounds quite pessimistic, though I don’t think academia would be destroyed that easily. Indeed, academia is where MOOCs are built upon, and where everyone is steering its way in certain ways, rather different from the top-down autocratic approach towards education.  Education could be viewed as platforms of open learning and be democratized through MOOCs, as discussed by Stephen here.

3. Opportunistic education and new business models of education.  The MOOCs have to certain extent open up opportunities for commercialization, privatization, though at the same time democratization of Higher Education.  Such a trend may be part of the evolution in modern education, where supply and demand of education is never fully balanced in a digital ecology.

4. Complexity exemplification and Swarm intelligence. The butterfly effect with small local changes in education and learning initiative and networks have taken the movements to new and high levels and unprecedented excitements in looking deeper into how human intelligence – swarm intelligence that are observed in the MOOCs, multi-ism being applied in various sorts of c and x MOOCs, with varying degrees of success.

5. Unbundling and re-bundling of education practices in formal institutions.  Small and large changes and transformations in institutions are happening, with un-bundling and re-bundling of existing education practice (mass-lectures) and services that are happening within and outside the classroom.  These include flipped classes, peer learning and instruction, self-organised networks and learning, project-based and problem based learning etc. all leading to substantial shift in paradigms and pedagogy in HE, as a result of the MOOCs movement.

12 thoughts on “What is really revolutionizing education? Part 1

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