Is lecturing the cream of future massive online education? Part 2

Most educators agree that lectures are effective in face-to-face classroom delivery, especially with a small group of students, and as you (Doug Holton) shared, would be useful after students have had some exploratory activity, so they could ask and respond to questions, and a reason to know and learn.

I don’t know if Khan Academy videos are that effective in deep learning, as I have mentioned in my blog post, mainly because they are only “content delivery”, with a transmission of knowledge – facts and information model.  That seems to me forms the basis of surface learning, and may be rote learning in some cases. You could ask questions in the video to check students’ understanding, but then, this way of monitoring of students’ progress of learning is teacher-centered and such is only instrumental learning, with “surface learning” at best.  The multiple choice sort of assessment in video based lectures (with use of clickers) may help students in getting the basic concepts correct, at least in responding to questions, but the learning stops there, and the students may still continue with their misconceptions, if they don’t understand why they have chosen the wrong answer in the first place.  What may be a problem is students continue to remember the “right answer” as in rote learning, without a thorough understanding of the reasons behind the “right answer” through critical thinking in the learning process.  Your pointing out of the video Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos-   Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos well illustrates the point.  There has been overly hype about how one size suits all (with all the short videos).

Also, the flipped classroom would only work with more matured and experienced learners who have done the “homework” by watching some of the referred videos, and or reading some of the assigned work, artifacts before coming to class.  I have highlighted that there are certain limitations with such an approach, especially when students’ expectations are “spoon feeding” with lectures in class, and even asking lecturer to just answer the questions relating to the examinations, as they may be looking for getting “A”s, or getting all that is required to pass the examination, when examination results are what are counted in their “learning”.  In an education system where grades and certification are the central tenets for judging competence, wouldn’t it be rational for students to ask for lectures that would lead them to get all the answers to the examinations, rather than spending all the extra time in “learning” the hard or extra “knowledge and information” that wouldn’t be tested or examined?

So, lecture could still be an effective method for “learning” but may not be what the students want, if the professors are giving “long lecture”, mainly because of the limited attention span and loss of interest if the content is boring, or the presentation is overly theoretical, without any questions or activities.  This is all too common in educational videos (lectures) in most of the Youtube channels, where the professor speaks 100% of time, without any input or contribution from students.  This is rational given that the audience (of those videos) may be expecting content delivery, and so irrespective of whether it is Khan Academy or any other HE videos, the format are nearly always the same.  This is based on the assumption that people learn “best” with lecture, and that they have the prerequisite knowledge and skills necessary for attending the lectures.

In summary, I do think lectures are still valuable in learning, in face to face teaching and online teaching, though it has now been totally “over” used in MOOCs, where some of the lectures become talk show, with “entertainment sort of education – the entertain-education made in snippets of video episodes” in order to gain, attract and retain students’ attention.  This has led to a return to traditional education paradigm where learning is conceived to be a filling of empty vessel sort of one-way spoon feeding, even if it is based on questioning, or the “mastery learning” with repeated practice.  Besides, such cognitive/behavioral approach towards education would only encourage surface learning, especially when learners have no to little chance of interacting with the professors or other learners in the learning process.

So, what may be a better way of learning?  How could we enhance learning in MOOCs?  Our conversational model, project based and problem based learning, (or Social Constructivism) and distributed knowledge and learning with participatory and connective model of education and learning (or Connectivism) all could contribute to deep learning to a greater extent.  It seems that these models of learning are still not yet fully understood or appreciated in HE, especially when they are not included in the curriculum, as many of us understand.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights.

Image: Google and previous post on learning


Is lecturing the cream of future massive online education?

It seems that video lectures are the golden cream of xMOOCs, and even Khan Academy.  So lecture is still the predominant technology that has been hailed as the most primitive, yet an effective method of “disseminating” and transferring knowledge.

Not that simple, as argued in this post- is-lecture-capture-the-worst-educational-technology.

  1. Large scale recording of lectures perpetuates an outdated and increasingly discredited passive learning experience. Before all the great lecturers jump up and down and say how great lecturing is you have to admit that you are the exception and not the rule and most academics, although they may be good educators, are poor presenters in the lecture theatre.
  2. The technology does nothing to engage the student who instead of sitting passively in a lecture theatre checking their text messages will now sit passively in front of a screen at home checking their text messages.
  3. Traditional lectures aren’t designed for online delivery. They’re too long. Their length is designed to fit in with the timetabling constraints of the buildings in which lectures take place not for any pedagogical reason. Why should this physical constraint be allowed to migrate its way into flexible online delivery?
  4. Using the technology takes away technical effort, funding and other resources that could be better used in consolidating other enterprise wide educational technologies and in providing more widely available and timely staff development and support.

Video lectures seem to be viewed as very important in massive content delivery, as in the case of xMOOCs.  Otherwise, we won’t even know if the super professors exist, as they could all be behind the scenes.

I have posted here is-lecturing-the-cream-of-teaching-at-the-mercy-of-learning.  Lecturing could be a good pill for some students, especially for the novice who needs to learn  about content knowledge.

Would it still be effective for the veterans or advanced learners, or professors?  I think lectures (short video lectures) would still be the hallmark for rock star or super professor, as that is where one could reach the massive population of students in a MOOC environment.  I would really like to see a xMOOC without any videos (or video lectures) and still be able to attract tens of thousand students.

May be cMOOCs could do without much video lectures, as the students actually make the videos, share and learn between themselves, as witnessed in MOOCMOOC, and various network communities on FB or Google +.

Let’s see if lecture would survive the next decade of education.  I reckon it would still be alive in face-to-face classroom learning.  What do you think?

What are the assumptions behind MOOC, in particular peer assessment and grading?

I read Jonathan Rees’ post on the flaws of peer grading in MOOCs with interests.

Jonathan says:

Because of the size of the course I think I can safely assume that many of my fellow MOOC students inevitably had no history background at all, yet the peer grading structure forced them to evaluate whether other students were actually doing history right.

The implicit assumption of any peer grading arrangement is that students with minimal direction can do what humanities professors get paid to do and I think that’s the fatal flaw of these arrangements. This assumption not only undermines the authority of professors everywhere; it suggests that the only important part of college instruction is the content that professors transmit to their students.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

What are the assumptions behind the background of MOOC students? Do we know enough if one’s fellow MOOC students had any (history) background at all?

What are the assumptions behind peer grading? I could see the values, merits and limitations of peer grading in certain fields, such as evaluations of group projects, individual assignments, but in the case of MOOCs, would there be huge variations in the grading, when subject to the assessment of different peers or professors? The use of 0, 1, 2, 3 etc. as a grading scale is appropriate when those performance criteria is clearly understood, with a concise marking guide. However, given the “unknown” abilities of the peers in assessment of the work, such as this “professor”, how would one be able to judge professionally, except from the report from this student professor?
Professional judgment in assessment requires one to comprehend the significance and application of validity, reliability, authenticity and sufficiency in evaluation and assessment of a piece of work (essay, report, project or artifact).  That’s why we need quality assessment (control over variation in “standards”, which could be measured based on concrete and reliable performance standards). Could super professors do this for hundreds, or tens of thousands of students in MOOCs? That is mission impossible. May be one could develop a course in “training” the students in how to assess in a professional manner first (based on what professors would normally do). Even then, one would realize that there are always variation in the assessment tools, methodology when students are requested to do the assessment, as an “experiment” in MOOCs.
There are many assumptions made here, and I just can’t help but to quote the Assumptions Theory that I suggested. The xMOOCs are based on assumptions that people could learn from the best professors in the world, with these peer assessment and grading rendered possible due to the advances in technology. We have also assumed that participants (students in particular) have got the skills to peer assess, and provide valued comments to other students. I just like to continue with stating the assumptions, but would think it better for you to share your assumptions on this interesting topic.