Here it comes, what I have once also liked to express:
“AH, you’re a professor. You must learn so much from your students.”
This line, which I’ve heard in various forms, always makes me cringe. Do people think that lawyers learn a lot about the law from their clients? That patients teach doctors much of what they know about medicine?
Yet latent in the sentiment that our students are our teachers is an important truth. We do in fact need to learn from them, but not about the history of the Roman Empire or the politics of “Paradise Lost.”
There were many good stories illustrating how people teach doctors how to cure diseases, or lawyers learning a lot from the cases they dealt with the clients. Here in my previous posts on story telling – story telling.
It makes good headlines to claim that MOOCs and their ilk signal “the beginning of the end” for higher education. But that’s mostly blustery rhetoric. As Siva Vaidhyanathan put it, “I wish pundits would stop declaring that MOOC’s are revolutionary when they are merely interesting (not that there is anything wrong with that).” What’s a more measured reaction to the MOOC trend, then?
As I have shared in my previous posts, the x MOOC has decimated the connectivist MOOC but not the LEARNING associated with the connectivist MOOCs. Cathy says in her post:
True learning is a dialogue,” it is clear to me that he has never taken an online course. Lots are dialogues. Extremely effective ones. At the same time, he romanticizes a bit too much about the dialogical nature of traditional higher education. Lots of what profs do in the classroom is so monologic as to be narcissistic. There are bad versions of MOOCs, and bad versions of traditional education, or Massively Outdated Traditional Education (MOTEs). We have to make distinctions.
I am “tired” of the debates between the two, mainly because there are many pros and cons with each approaches. When MOOC really scaled to a huge scale – say tens of thousands, the learning is surely machine or tool gauged, as no institutions could afford the time and money to have any human doing the assessment. Such forms of assessment could be perfectly matched with the public examinations, where MC, T/F, and short answers could be matched with standard answers. What does a 100% mean? A perfect match with the answers the questioners (professors, educators) have set. To what extent would that count as education? 100%. How about when people are out there at work? What are the questions? What are the problems? Are there 100% perfect right answers? So, the issues with MOOC include: What does learning mean, when we just focus on examinations, or even the mere “right or wrong” answers matching with the “learning outcomes”?
There are no “right” or “wrong” MOOCs, as any one could argue that these MOOCs are absolutely revolutionary, and right for having them open to the world, for free. Aren’t these MOOCs satisfying the urge for free open education? Why people are still not happy when they are free? Aren’t the professors doing a great job of educating the world?
Jesse argues in this post: “MOOCs are like books, good when they’re good and bad when they’re bad. There is evil they can help do and evil they can help undo. Emerson writes in“The American Scholar,” “Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst” (56).”
Finally, education and learning is not merely giving out the content, testing the students to see if they have got the right answers in assignments or examinations, though they may be important for course validation and institution accreditation. It is about engaging people (both professors, educators, learners) to interact with each others, in the form of conversation, discourse, and to dialogue about the content, information, and learn about the implications and applications in study, at work, or in life.
Technology could be a powerful tool in the course of education and learning, in particular in MOOC, especially in the mediation of communication, or the facilitation of cooperation and collaboration, through wiki, Google Doc, or social media.
The current affordance of media and tools that are tailored to the learners need to be more effectively applied in the x MOOC, together with the “teaching, cognitive and social presence” for a transformation of education and learning. Tools and media alone won’t change the world. It’s the people, the leaders, the learners who work and learn, and converse together, that would change the world.