Here are my take-away and reflection from Sebastian Thrun’s talk.
1. Sebastian Thrun mentioned about the experience of students in his AI course, based on email feedback. Touching experience from students. However, I have to caution that some of those stories may be true only to some extent. Why? There are many made up stories by spammers. Or those who want to attract educators’ attention. I have received some comments, on blogs and emails, praising how good “I” am in providing the information. I am not saying that these anecdotes or amazing stories are not true, only that some might only be a way for these people to express themselves in the internet, or to show how desperate they are, in looking for some forms of education. We haven’t even touched the tips of the icebergs, as there are many people in different corners of the world who don’t have access to any internet connection, or even aware that they are there. My message is: listen to these stories. Do you believe the whole story? That is your judgment.
2. The notion of having synchronous teaching – where students learn differently – keep classroom small is interesting. All students learn differently. In a traditional classroom teaching, we are most likely teaching based on a lesson plan. Same lecture, same activity, same quiz, are likely delivered at the same time, for every student in the class in face-to-face teaching. That’s why educators have been suggesting having small classes of students (say 5 to 10), in order to engage as many students as possible, in a short time, within a physical space. In an online environment, this is different. The reason why one could reach tens of thousands of students is: students don’t need to meet the teachers synchronously. The tyranny of space, time and format of traditional classroom setting is overcome. Even the teachers could be “paused”, “rewinded”, or “fast-forwarded” in the case of video teaching. The up-side is that students could choose who they would like to learn from, and when, where, what, how they could learn. However, teachers would likely be treated as just another node, or tool in the equation of education. If the video lecture is too boring, the student would remove the “teacher” right away. Teachers – are you still needed? May be teachers are needed to produce the video. But is that education?
3. Most effective learning and education could be based on individual tutoring. The Two Sigma Effect. If learning is based on the achievement of specific learning outcomes, prescriptive knowledge and procedural knowledge, mastery learning could be the solution. My only reservation is: that is an instrumental and strategic learning. How about emergent learning where we are now striving to achieve?
4. Don’t mimic the classroom. I agreed with Sebastian’s point on this. That’s why I think we need to make best use of digital media and technology in enriching the educational experience. Watching videos may be a good start for some people, though many others prefer to write blogs, discuss in forums, or share ideas on Twitter, or just socialize on Facebook. Others may prefer to interact on Google +, hanging out with others on Skype and Google + hang-out. These are non-traditional classroom practice. They are not only flipping the classroom, but go well beyond that. It is flipping the learning, as I have shared. Should we still believe in posting videos (like Khan’s videos) and think that people would learn? May be, that is the case for some who need them. But that shouldn’t limit people to go beyond that sort of watching videos sort of education and learning. It is still a spoon-feeding education, though someone likes it.
5. The use of quizzes and multiple choice questions. Yes, assessment based teaching always provide some interesting answers to education. Most learners could be “motivated” when challenged with quizzes and questions. Though there are great educational values in the use of quizzes and multiple choice questions in checking and testing learners’ knowledge and understanding of concepts, I don’t think they are good enough for learning – authentic learning in particular. Most learners would prefer to challenge themselves with problems they are facing, either on a daily basis, or that at work. They need to seek answers to these problems. Here the best quizzes and questions would best be structured around their topic of interests, not just those on subject matter. In summary, if the questions are relevant to learners’ life, or their areas of study, then there is added value with quizzes and questions.
6. Online pedagogy. Sebastian mentioned about using digital media and games in transforming education.
7. Teachers – sage on the stage is not good enough.
8. Define new learning experience based on the use of digital media.
9. Data driven – initial class – data – improved class. Use data to drive the improvement of learning.
10. Self-paced learning, adaptive learning, reactive learning/projects, multi-dimensional assessment. I think these have been experimented in our cMOOCs in the past.
11. Interesting to note the MOOC 2.0 mentioned. Would Sebastian Thrun be right in his prediction when MOOCs are moving from MOOC 1.0 to MOOC 2.0 (at around 43:00) with the use of mentors and more online help, and peer-to-peer help and support emphasised?
12. Learning is now viewed as continuous life long learning – where play/education/work/rest may overlap in our life.