What is the future of mass education?
I think we have been focusing on mass education in the past centuries. As the society hasn’t got the infrastructure to support personalized education, we relied heavily on printed books, educational TVs and video cassettes, and in particular educators, in the good old days, to support mass education and learning. In essence, this was mainly due to a lack of educational resources, and infrastructure in technology support. Teaching and learning had been heavily based on the teacher-centered teaching to augment the limited learning resources available.
There were also cultures which were based on power structures, further limiting the spread of information and creation of new knowledge. In retrospect, we have been relying on an industrial model of education, to provide the life-blood for the industries, as “knowledge” workers, so these workers could fulfill their roles on the job. The dissemination and acquisition of knowledge was once upon still based on an authoritarian research and review approach, where canonical knowledge was vetted by authorities. The resultant academic knowledge would be recognized as the only acceptable knowledge that were to be released to public for distribution and education purposes. Here educators and administrators were the gatekeepers of knowledge, and so far, it worked out well.
With the advent of technologies like computer, internet, and more recently social media and mobile technologies, there has been a shift from teaching to learning as the center stage in education. Educators and learners are aware of the importance of relevance of education to their future, and so teaching and education has been viewed in new and emergent ways, especially in the last decade.
Is it the end of teaching?
We have advanced our knowledge frontier through better use of telecommunication, technology and social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +), and Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs, and Google Doc, etc, among its community members (citizen) within the last decade. This is further manifested by the recent MOOC movements, which has drawn attention from different media on the MOOCs here on the creation of connectivist courses, here and here on Udacity and Coursera, here on MITx and Khan Academy.
I think there are certain merits in using videos as demonstrated by Khan in teaching and learning, especially in the dissemination of basic information or knowledge, but would be limited if one is to use it to advance or create knowledge.
Here Tony critiques on the pedagogical roles for videos in online learning, where he suggests the application of 3 criteria:
- the example is well produced (clear camera work, good presenter, clear audio)
- it is short and to the point
- it demonstrates clearly a particular topic or subject and links it to what the student is intended to learn.
This is based on a structured approach towards online learning, and so most videos on the internet would be far short of the criteria raised.
Relating to the use of MOOC as a learning platform for personalised learning, here are the threaded discussion by:
Relating ANT’s study of networks, based on its formation, development, and decay, and Connectivism’s study, based on networks as entities and sensemaking artifacts, and Rhizomatic learning on why we teach, I reckon it is the frame of reference that matters, with certain metaphors in our approach to study on what learning is, and how knowledge is developed or constructed by us at this digital age.
Construction of knowledge through play, sounds more in alignment with the Constructionism that was conceived and invented by Seymour Papert. That seems to be the mastermind of learning among the younger generations, when learning with learning objects, games and digital artifacts.
People realize that digital devices – mobiles and computer technology and media are available at our finger tips, and so they could learn at a place where, when, how they found most convenient to them. Such modes of learning make up a substantial portion of our overall learning, and often around 70 to 90% of learning could be derived from learning through games, conversation over virtual networks, discursive learning over different social media, and serendipitous learning while navigating networks, videos, or artifacts.
So, it seems that learning through games and play has been one of the characteristics of MOOCs, where learning and conversation might be built on fun and game activities, as is in the case of DS106 developed by Jim Groom, where digital stories were created and developed by the learners.
In conclusion, we are moving from a mass education towards more personalized education, due to the technology and social media affordance and the various informal networking opportunities through the networks and social media. Institutions and various enthusiastic educators, in response to the disruptive innovation are considering various means and strategies to reach the critical mass of learners. One movement that has been particularly spectacular has been the MOOC, which was spearheaded by the MOOCs, with Stanford AIs and Machine Learning, Khan Academy, Couresa and Udacity and the MITx, which have all been offered free to the public, and are free of charge to participants to enroll.
The impact of these “MOOCs” have been significant, where huge numbers of learners throughout the globe have enrolled into the MOOCs. We seem to be at an early stage to draw into conclusion on how such movements would affect our mass education, and which models of MOOC would be effective for a “massive” group or network of learners.