#CFHE12 #Oped12 The droids are taking our jobs

Having watched this, I wonder what it means when jobs done by humans are being replaced by droids.

Even machine could grade our work.  Another MOOC bottleneck solved.

“With the current speed online education is developing – every week some 70.000 students sign up for the 200 Coursera courses – it will not be long before other computational problems will be solved.”

Computer could help in doing lots of things, improving computerized grading of short essays.  The problem is, it is still based on an algorithm. Human expresses feelings and emotions that are more subtle and difficult to be interpreted, even with the best algorithms in the world, I suppose.

Again, this comes back to the assumptions we made, as I have suggested in my proposed Assumption Theory.  What have we assumed in this sort of application?  Can we assume that we learn better as the machine learnt what we have learnt, like machine learning?  Are we becoming the machine? Machine in us, and us in the machine.

If the machine is to grade my essay here, would it pass me?  I don’t think any machine would be able to grade my essay “properly” unless such grading criteria has incorporated my views.  But that is a philosophical question, rather than a critical question.

Photo credit.

What do you think?

#CFHE12 #Oped12 A story about freebies

MOOCs are free.  They are hailed as the most important education technology in 200 years,  as shared here.  There are more praises on how online learning would make a difference to the world of education, in helping more people to receive higher education, and in democratizing education.

Online learning also holds the appeal of democratizing education by providing poor people in any village the opportunity to “rub minds” with the most brilliant professors on the planet.”

Online learning would be the future of education, there is little doubt about it.

I don’t find this surprising, as I realized that it is a catalyst of disruptive technology that could revolutionalize education.

Is MOOCs a great sign to turn education upside down, with learners as the pinnacle of education and learning?   Not yet.

I am both fascinated and awed about what would come next, when these MOOCs take over the “battle” in the education arena.  MOOCs are blossoming, developing rapidly, and are ubiquitous.

Is education about prescribed, pre-determined learning or emergent learning?  Will such form of education learning revolutionize education?

What happens if the learners become too receptive of “freebies” in education and believe that open education should be free for all?  Is education still be of great value as perceived by the learners?

As shared here?  “For other faulty members – those teaching languages in particular – the prospect is for near or total obsolescence”.

In an 1838 address to graduates of the Harvard Divinity School, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Truly speaking, it is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul.”

“I don’t think we can emphasize too much this distinction between instruction and provocation, facts versus knowledge, discipline versus inspiration, information versus insight,” Delbanco said.

What would happen if the best education turns up to be all about education offered for free by the Super Rock Stars teachers, and best professors in the world?  Who are the winners?  Wouldn’t that be similar to Olympic Games where the best Olympians win the medals?

Would education based on MOOCs be more than just as the Olympic Games?

What is the purpose of education?

What should our education look like?

Here are some wonderful ideas that relate to the future of education:

Funding and Finance

Distinctiveness and specialisation

Student experience and widening participation



I am in favor of open, free education.  The reality is: education has become a business.  For a business to survive and thrive, it must be profitable.

Does education need to be “profitable” if it is run on a business model?

We need to have a sustainable education. Where will the finance needed to run education be coming from?  Would it be from the government, venture capitalists, businesses, charitable organization, or philanthropists?

The Story

Here is a fictitious story that I learnt through a very old movie, back in the 60s.

There once lived a group of kind-hearted and loving people in a Chinese village.   These “good” people were so kind to each others that they ran their “small business” and offered their service to other people in the village at a very low price and low profit margin.  These good people provided all sorts of services including the provision of hair cuts and selling of buns often with little to low charges for those old people, young kids, and those who were poor.

Soon, news were spread about such great acts of love and serving others, with a spirit of altruism to the neighbours.    This also  attracted a lot of jealousy from other people in the village who had lost their profits because of these good people’s wonderful business and acts.

Some people in the village decided to compete with these good people by offering their services of hair- cutting and selling of buns at a cut-throat price.

Here, the competition began.

The good people decided that they would offer their hair cut and their buns for near to a zero cost.  And they attracted hundreds of customers from their village.

The other group responded by offering their hair cuts and buns for free.   And the customers immediately flocked to their free service.

Here, the good people decided to offer “free buns” for every hair cuts offered to their customers.  That seemed to be the perfect way of running business and serving the society.

In a modern world, isn’t that the perfect model of socialism where everyone enjoys the freedom of choice and wonderful free services and social equity?  May be free service and products for everyone is the best way to serve a society, based on the concept and principles of “free, open education”.

Is that what a Utopian society should look like?

So do you want to know what happens next?  Both groups of people were competing so fiercely that they ended up not getting any profits from the customers, their fellow villagers.

That wasn’t the end of story.  That was only the beginning of the story, where learning started.   Those good people realized that they had to re-think and reflect on what it means to offer free services for all in the community.

That is the story.

The modern Story of MOOCs

Those were the days of the MOOCers in the 60s.  Is it significantly different from that of the MOOCers of the 2012s?  May be not.

How would our story of MOOCs end?  We might have to re-think about how we could offer our services to the world for free.  Internet has opened up the opportunities of free, open education for everyone.  Providers of MOOCs are trying to leverage the “power” and value of internet and webs  to achieve their visions.

But would anyone be able to beat the disruptive technology and its associated free open education offered through internet and social networks?

May be, it is better to surf the internet rather than to fight with the internet and the tsunami of online education, in its various forms – like MOOCs.

Here “Stanford University President John Hennessy has likened the latest wave of online education — from simple video lectures to entire degrees earned online — to a tsunami.

“What I told my colleagues is there’s a tsunami coming,” he said recently. “I can’t tell you exactly how it’s going to break, but my goal is to try to surf it, not to just stand there.”

These require educational leadership, to direct and guide education and learning towards a better future.  Who would take up such leadership?  Would it be all of you? What HE needs from future HE leaders?