On Education Matters Part 2 – Role of teachers in MOOCs

What is the role of teachers in MOOCs?

Teachers are tools in the education process.  I have posted here on what teachers are for:

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.

Free MOOCs

In practice, it hasn’t been such an idyllic model. The large majority of people who sign up for free online courses are what Phil Hill, an education consultant who has analyzed some of the MOOC data, refers to as “lurkers.” These are people who perhaps watch a video or two, but then drop out–a lot never get beyond registering. Hill says as many as 60 to 80 percent of MOOC students never make it past the second week of a course.

Sounds like that teachers couldn’t do much to change the formula of lurking in MOOCs.

Are MOOCs altogether free, and are professors free, in the long run?

This paper on MOOCs:

As technology takes centre stage, the power of learners to control their own learning increases.  In some areas, the direct role of the teacher may be diminished. On the whole, however, teachers’ impact on the lives of their students will remain undiminished, and that of the best teachers—who can also master the technologies coming available— should be vastly amplified. Despite inevitable tensions, all signs point to the various forms of teacher-technology-student interaction becoming enriched rather than diminished.

Will the direct role of the teacher be diminished?  I think there are lots of assumptions here, in that we still think best teachers are those who can master the technologies.  I wonder!  The role of teacher is still important, though such role would likely be different from that of the past, as mere lecturers delivering mass lectures, or conducting classes face-to-face in typical classroom.

Some educators are concerned that far from learning becoming more democratic, the opposite is happening. Salman Khan, the founder of the eponymous academy, is a former hedge fund analyst, not an educator, and some worry that the education agenda in future will be set by large corporations, not teachers or experts in pedagogy. Indeed, what is to stop companies like Google offering qualifications to rival those offered by exam boards and universities?

Would education agenda in future be set by large corporations, not teachers or experts in pedagogy?  I think the current trend of education based on MOOC would soon shift towards corporations-driven education and learning, and there is simply no return.

What I would foresee is: The future of learning would be based on opportunistic education.  MOOCs are just the starting point of the opportunistic education.

The videos shown here below are also collected here.

Here teachers are using video lectures and activities to engage students.  Do the teachers have any idea about who the students are?  May be not.  That is still a broadcasting mode of education.

My conclusion is that the role of teachers have changed, to a curator, an online video presenter, a facilitator, or broker of education. Teaching is free in the brave new world.  Teachers have set education free, as this MOOC movement has set the scene.

However, what would happen if teachers are replaced totally by technology, or by games, or the MOOCs (i.e. without the presence of teachers)?  That would be another story.

May be we need cyber teachers who could teach and adapt in that new world of education.   How would people see teachers and schools?


Have you got the crystal ball of education?

5 thoughts on “On Education Matters Part 2 – Role of teachers in MOOCs

  1. Sebastian Thrun mentions in this video that Higher Education should be a basic human right.. You can either give them a fish a night, or you can them how to fish, so they can have enough for their rest of their lives. That’s what education is all about! Well said.

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