Online Education and MOOC

What is online education like?

There was an old Chinese motto: Poor rice fields won’t attract farmers to plow, but once there are farmers plowing such fields, many other farmers would join in and compete.

Does it sound like what happens in online education?  Here the rice field is online education.  Once online education was found to be of an inferior quality in terms of yielding of academic results, with poor progression and completion rates.

I just happened to come across the post on Conversation:

The expected 4 billion new members of the middle class who will join the rest of us by 2050 will likely demand more dairy and meat. These require an enormous amount of grains to produce.

Are we entering a new era where online education and MOOCs have become the near to “life safer” to Higher Education?  In this article:

This week, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a group of provosts from Big 10 universities, issued a position paper saying that higher education must take advantage of new education technology — but perhaps on its own.

To what extent is this a reality?  Would school compete, leading to students winning?  May be when education is centered around competition for students among school, a new form of education with a different business education model would emerge.

There is another side of education, when MOOCs become the battleground for education, as Justin shares in MOOC the opium mass:

Why suddenly then are we so eager to accept Massive Open Online Courses –gigantic classes for the masses- as a good thing? The truth is that the massiveness inherent in the MOOC model is a throwback to darker days of Industrial Age education packaged in a shiny new hi-tech wrapper. And we, the sheep-like masses are swallowing this hollow candy with reckless abandon.

All these led me to reflect on what problems that we are actually facing in Higher Education.  Aren’t these all wicked problems associated with disruptive innovation (MOOCs offered by others) where Higher Education Institutions are trying to tackle, using MOOCs to counter-act them?

What about the quality of teaching and learning in MOOCs?

The fact that quality may be understood – and perhaps also operationalised – so differently, according to context and perspective, renders it a particularly wicked area to theorise and analyse.

Approaches to theorising the questions of quality in higher education are wide-ranging and contested. One reason for this is that these approaches represent the confluence of several theoretical paradigms and discourses. These paradigms include the often tacit performativity agenda (Blackmore, 2009; Cowen, 1996) and the Total Quality Management model (TQM; Bensimon, 1995) taken directly from industry and applied as a governance methodology for higher education. This has deeply influenced how universities approach the ‘business’ of education.

In the position white paper  CIC-Online-Learning-Collaboration-for-IHE-FINAL released, adaptive instruction was highlighted.  It is about “what do I want my students to learn?” being the focus of future Higher Education, in order to improve the overall value proposition to the students, and those who support the students, including the institutions.

This means not only a philosophical shift of attitude from “What do I want to teach?” to “What do I want my students to learn?” It also means a shift of accountability toward promoting student learning and collecting systematic data about whether or not our teachers and students are succeeding—together. There are implications here for how we evaluate the quality of instruction within the institution, as well as how we respond to external demands from a variety of constituencies (including our students and their parents) to better document what students are learning from their coursework and degrees.

These also reminded me of the parable of the Sower sows his seeds:

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

MOOC could also be perceived as a platform, in the form of garden, whereas the central theme of a garden is to grow its plant.

Would such garden be free?  As I have shared it here, where the wonderland is free for awhile, it is hard to sustain.

Would MOOCs be here to stay without tears?  I am afraid they would still be facing a lot of challenges, like the pedagogy to be adopted, sound business models that are to be established, cultural and quality issues that are yet to be overcome.

As I have shared, we are now in the Lord of the Ring game, where those who win takes all. Education is now a game, not as much as the once enlightenment or passion sort of education vision, but a pragmatic sort of education of whether one could get a job after taking a course of study, or getting famous through “educating” others in MOOCs.

It is the media that would likely determine who is the winner, not the test anymore, as no one could objectively test or examine what is really “competent” or “capable” under those framework, mainly because they are producer driven, not user driven.