In MOOC, what are teachers for?

In this hammer by David Platt, he comments:

A year ago in this column, I told you how the Internet would hammer the higher education industry the same way it’s hammered the newspaper industry (and the travel industry, and the music industry and … you get the idea). I never imagined how quickly that hammering would start….that hammer: MOOC (rhymes with fluke). It stands for Massive Open Online Course, and while I delight in the MOOC concept, I have wondered about its prospects. I wondered if reputable providers would produce enough high-quality content.

What about the teachers in the MOOCs?  Teachers (or professors) are those who would ensure high-quality content in MOOCs, right?

Photo credit: Tony’s post here


Good question: what are teachers for? In a highly commercialized and entrepreneurial based society, what would business and industry be looking for? Workers who could help in running business, working effectively and efficiently that would boost productivity and lowering the cost, in order to generate more profits for stakeholders in businesses and institutions.

So teachers are there to help in educating the “future or present workers” to become more proficient, more skillful in doing their work, and thus leading to a better business, and prosperity.

Education of a pragmatic nature would likely be more readily accepted, from k-12, and especially in HE and VET, when they are in line with such philosophy – in alignment with industrialization and modernization. This has been happening in lots of developing countries and surely has been the roots of most developed countries. You could see how countries like China, India, and others like the 4 dragons- Singapore, Hong Kong-China, Korea, and Taiwan have prospered in the past 2 decades, where all have got a strong base in commercialization and education. Education does require certain level of skills acquisition, and may be teachers for the facilitation of education or training.

However, the present xMOOCs have all focus on education on a massive scale, leading to automated teaching (short videos with the instructors exposition of the essential concepts, procedures) with quizzes, followed by assignments, tests and examinations etc. Flipping the classroom has merely changed the procedures in teaching – by asking the learners to view teaching by teachers (or animated videos, or documentary etc.) first, and discuss that after. This is similar to the video based distance learning in the past decade, except that now we could incorporate forum, discussion boards to allow peer-to-peer discussion, and teachers to explain on more advanced concepts or applications, or respond to some of the questions raised. The use of synchronous session may be used in both x and c MOOCs as a way to further discuss the ideas or questions relating to assigned readings, or videos. That’s basically a replica of what are typical in classroom teaching, in most cases, except that these are now all digital, with artifacts readily available for rewind, recap, and re-view. The teachers are needed to have the first recording, after then they might only be needed in future courses for responding to students.

May I suggest the “technology-driven and enhanced education” here?

The concept is basically similar to this:

So robots are producing robots. Similarly you could have teachers producing artifacts and “digital classroom resources” (OER) that could automate the whole education process. Teachers may be viewed as robots, mass producing education to the public, where students would be expected to follow the procedures and repeat the process (computer coding, program language) though they would be able to create new programs and applications in the education process.

Would we still need teachers in MOOCs? As illustrated, not many teachers are required in x MOOCs, as the only ones to teach must be highly qualified and recongised, as super-rockstar professors. Students would doubt on the credibility of other participants, unless their skills and qualifications are revealed through the education process. Back to you, after a lengthy response. John Mak