This Rethinking Race Against the Machines by John Hagel provides an insightful perspective of how technology is impacting on us.
“John Hagel says we have designed jobs in the U.S. that tend to be “tightly scripted,” “highly standardized,” that leave no room for “individual initiative or creativity.” In short, these are the types of jobs that machines can perform much better at than human beings. That is how we have put a giant target sign on the backs of American workers, Hagel says.”
I have been thinking about how these concepts could be applied in the case of Higher Education, and MOOCs (xMOOCs) in particular. If we believe that MOOCs can perform much better than human beings in the education business, then surely a lot of jobs (teaching in particular) will be lost, and would be taken care of by xMOOCs as I have shared here and here.
Are MOOCs far less effective than a good teacher?
Do we really need that many teachers for teaching in MOOCs, as there could be lots of duplication of efforts when the courses are run again. Is it really the case? What are the assumptions behind such arguments? MOOCs may be the solutions in some domains where automation in teaching and assessment is possible, but could be a huge challenge when it comes to contextualization, as it could involve huge investment in personalization of education and learning (i.e. one to one or one to some mentoring support).
I don’t think the scenarios mentioned in the video of my previous post would happen, as higher education would still be in the reign of Higher Education Institutions, though there could be MOOCs running in conjunction with the HEs. Moreover, we are racing with the technology afforded from the internet, but then our fundamental values of University based education would not be easily changed. There might be a transformation in terms of a shift in education focus – in that it is more inclined to be learner-based learning in higher education, especially when people found that the traditional lecturing, one size suits all doesn’t help the learners in the long run.
A great MOOC would leave the learners with a set of learning strategies that the learners would benefit for life. I have suggested some of the features of those great MOOCs here
A good MOOC would provide certain skills for the learners to get a job, but such literacy and skills might not be transferable to other domains, as there is no guarantee that the learners know how to do so, and so the learners have to keep on doing other courses to keep up with the literacy required for other jobs. That may be a good thing for both providers and learners as that is a win win solution still.
A poor MOOC would leave the learners with vague and poor experience of education and learning, and these MOOCs are likely those which don’t address the needs of the educators and learners, as the MOOC providers may only be interested in focusing on making profits, and not education. I don’t want to mention any examples here, but you could make your own judgment on who they are.
What may be the impression of the existing MOOC movement?
The post here on moocs mass education and the mcdonaldization of higher education provides some clues on the great, the good and poor moocs, whereas:
But, let’s be clear what this means: thousands of students across the world taking the same course, with the same content, from the same instructor. And that is the problem. MOOC’s are now at the forefront of the McDonaldization of higher education.
In an era when higher education is making significant advances in becoming global and helping to build educational capacity within developing nations, MOOC’s play the center against the periphery. They strengthen the ivory towers by enabling a few elite institutions to broadcast their star courses to the masses from the comfort of their protected perches.
The great and good MOOCs may be associated with the elite institutions, but then what would be the role of the other higher education institutions in other countries? Are they going to play the role of supporting the elite institutions? This seems to be a challenge for both professors and institutions as revealed in this post on Online Courses Put Pressure on Universities in Poorer Nations.
If we are to ensure that all MOOCs are good to great ones, then there would be huge investments necessary to build up the infrastructure, at least for xMOOCs? This would not be easy for those universities in developing countries, as they might not have the resources and capacity to do so. Would that end up with somewhat mediocre MOOCs offered by some institutions or providers, especially when there aren’t enough technology and financial support to the professors and instructors?
What are the alternatives other than the universities offering the MOOCs? See this paper for suggestions on Consortium.