#CFHE12 #Oped 12 How a theory and technology will change the world? Part 1

Scientific approach to teaching I have been wondering what theories would change the world.   Social Constructivism, Cognitivism, and Behaviorism have both shaped and changed the world to a certain extent.  Connectivism, a new and emergent learning theory has come along the centre stage and significantly influenced the way we educate and learn, using networks and tools.

How about Assumptions Theory that I have postulated?

In this Theory, we are making assumptions about learning from different perspectives.  From an educator’s perspective, we have made assumptions about the needs and readiness of learners, and assumed that there are best teaching and learning strategies for particular learners under particular learning context.  Experiments and research have been conducted to validate the findings.  From a learner’s perspective, the learners have assumed that they would be able to achieve the learning goals based on certain learning strategies, that suit their particular learning styles, and under certain learning context or ecology.

Here there are 7 assumptions about the future of HE and University in Education Stormfront:

“7 assumptions I think have to remain true for the university model to continue as it currently is.

  1. The perception of most people will still be that it is worth it to get into huge debt in order to get a university degree.
  2. The perception of most people will still be that the best way to get a university degree is by physically attending a college.
  3. The perception of most people will still be that if you want to learn something, you must go to a school.
  4. The students raised in the Internet age will still accept that the best way to learn is still mass lecturing.
  5. Businesses will continue to rely on a university degree as a signaling mechanism for employment.
  6. Despite many people’s effort and millions of dollars of investment, not a single person or organization will come up with an online system of learning that is a) as effective or more so than traditional college and b) cheap
  7. Opportunities for learning will remain scarce and expensive.”

Assumptions and challenges of Open Scholarship (George Veletsianos and Royce Kimmons, 2012), where they highlight:

The intention of this paper is (a) to identify the assumptions of the open scholarship movement and (b) to highlight challenges associated with the movement’s aspirations of broadening access to education and knowledge. The goal of this paper is not to frame open scholarship as a problematic alternative to the status quo. Instead, as we see individuals, institutions, and organizations embrace openness, we have observed a parallel lack of critique of open educational practices. We find that such critiques are largely absent from the educational technology field, as members of the field tend to focus on the promises of educational technologies, rarely pausing to critique its assumptions.

To me, the assumptions behind open scholarship movement have hinted the move made by professors, scholars and researchers, institutions and organizations in charting out their own directions of developing and practising open scholarship.  These open educational practice is now manifested either under an institutional framework, or merely on individual created framework.  This set the precedence of exploring with experimentation and entrepreneurship at the extraordinary scale with technology affordance –  MOOCs and/or social network platforms and tools.  Though no one has rightly predicted the outcome of such movement, it seems these complex and evolving “strange attractors” would always interact and generate another set of disruptions that cause the education to change its direction.

Will technology change the world? Definitely, as we have seen how computers, internet and world wide webs have actually transformed the world.

How about MOOCs?

There are lots of metaphors on MOOCs – the MOOC R Us

For in under a year, the rise of the MOOCs (massively open online courses) has fundamentally reshaped how we think and talk about teaching and learning in higher education. MOOCs have become the darlings of the educational policy world: they have been cited as the solution to the college debt crisis, as the future of higher education, as the best way to make higher education more productive, and at the center of the recent intrigues at the University of Virginia that almost toppled its president.

What have we assumed here? MOOC could revolutionise conventional higher education (by the universities and tertiary institutions), through the introduction of massive education, as these courses are open, free for all to join and participate, and most importantly more cost effective in providing high quality higher education.

Another set of assumptions relate to their extensive use of professors and technology to build up the “just in case education scenarios” as there are more demands than the supply currently available for higher education – degrees and diplomas offered by the universities.

Other assumptions are based on the premises that mass lecturing is no longer that effective.  Lecturing (mass lecturing in particular) has been hailed as the effective way to transmit information, based on the assumption of scarcity of information and professors and educators.

Half of all faculty do nothing but lecture in all or most of their classes; and what they lecture about is usually at the very bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy, focusing on factual recall rather than critical analysis, synthesis or application; and that knowledge is itself barely absorbed by students for more than a semester. Sometimes I half-wonder, in those long moments of the night, whether it might be better if we were indeed replaced.

What about the reality?  Most, if not all of the educators and professors that I have once met or learnt with like lecturing.  In my previous post on lecturing – Is lecturing, the cream of teaching, at the mercy of learning, I reflected that:

Relating to the use of videos in higher education, certain trends are clear, where video production and consumption rate are exploding.  Every minute, approximately 13 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube.  University lectures on Youtube are exploding at an exponential rate too, though it is still not yet fully known on their use as an OER among students, except  by checking on the number of hits on those lecture videos.

Besides, there are education videos on TED.COM that is competing for the attention of general public, educators and learners.

Mass lecturing or classroom based lecturing is still the holy grail that would last for another decade.

What are the views of educators and learners in lecturing as a means to achieve the educational learning goals?  Here in a post:

Easy! Easy! Easy!

Is it any wonder students want Powerpoint slides of their lectures? They know that there is a world of knowledge available to them on any given subject. They also know that they will be tested on some of this information. Why not demand that the lecturer condense, organise, and present the information that is considered most important – saves the student from having to do it themselves.

Not a surprise, aha! Lecturers teaching in accordance to what is required in the course curriculum, and ensure the learning outcomes are met, through exposition of the deep-down-to earth content, case-by-case, point-by-point, and checking whether the students comprehend what has been taught through quizzes, tests, and examinations.  Isn’t it what the administrators want to achieve, in terms of making sure the lecturers are satisfying the students’ needs and expectations, in providing a summary of learning, the cream of knowledge and wisdom.  This would make sure that the students would conform with the requirements set by the potential employers in future work, as these students are accredited with a degree of excellence in achievement and are ready for employment.

What about the lecturers?

 Lecturing is easy to do. In one hour (or 90 minutes or whatever) you can deal with 40, 50 100, 200 or 1000 students. In and out with minimal effort (plus the accompanying buzz). In addition, lectures are sustainable – easily recycled and reused. They are an easy way to teach.

In MOOCs, there are now so many professors coming forth to the centre stage that it seems to become the next grand “show business” where educators and professors are all “educating” the tens of thousands of MOOCs participants through their video performance.  Every single MOOC professor has to present herself or himself in front of the “camera”, or the web cams, in order to get the attention from their potential “students”.   TED talks have become the test beds for more and more speakers (educators, entertainers, designers, professors etc.) to both practise and showcase their expertise to the world.

This is again unprecedented as the presenters, professors, educators and even students are competing against both time and space in order to “teach” the world.  Youtube, Blip.tv, provide ample spaces for such creators to post their videos.

Our assumption here is: videos are ubiquitous, and there are abundant videos for use in open education.  The reality is: The quality and value of those “education videos” are yet to be evaluated, as many videos might just be memes, or entertainment videos.

Is Gangnam style one of that type of entertainment video/meme?  It may be just a fad, though an important one in 2012 that has broken all records in Youtube, in terms of number of hits.  Massive number of hits is what advertisement counts, and what education with the media wants.

If one could achieve fame and get all the attention from the media, could education based on a remix, repurpose, and recreate also achieve that same purpose – of educating the mass population through such a means?  Or may be the current xMOOCs are doing exactly what it is trying to achieve.

What theory would likely be able to describe the current MOOCs movement?  How about the Just in case versus Just in time learning scenario?

To me, xMOOCs relate more to just in case education and learning, whilst cMOOCs relate more to just in time education and learning scenarios, though there could also be a hybrid of the just in case & just in time all blended in x or c MOOCs.

If you want to unpack more myths about lecturing (in MOOCs, or physical face-to-face) see this:

Scientific approach to teaching

What are the assumptions behind teaching based on a scientific approach?

Are we racing with time and space and competing with the education and learning chains in this education mania?  MOOC mania in particular!

I will continue to reflect in the Part 2 of this series.  We have more assumptions to make, to chart out the future of higher education.

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Photo credit: Google Image

#CFHE12 #Oped12 Massive Open Online Comments (MOOC) are re-defining MOOCs – Part 1

We found Massive Open Online Comments MOOCs with both positive praises and negative criticisms on xMOOCs and cMOOCs with hundreds of blog posts.

What you need to know about MOOC provides some posts that explored different views about xMOOCs.   Some people have hailed xMOOC as the way to transform education, but others have viewed them as a disruptive technology to higher education.

Is MOOC (xMOOC) a revolution to higher education?  What and who has been revolted?  What has been overturned? Is flipping the classroom better than the traditional lectures delivered by the best professors in the world?  Who have proven all these?  Where are the evidences to support the revolution?  Are higher education institutions revolting against themselves?

Are these moot points?

MOOC may be the Napster as Clay Shirky shares here.  Napster dies hard!  “Napster and its founder held the promise of everything the new medium of the Internet encompassed: youth, radical change and the free exchange of information. But youthful exuberance would soon give way to reality as the music industry placed a bull’s-eye squarely on Napster.”

MOOCs are however well alive. Online education disruption based on MOOC has been added to the dictionary and history of distance education.  It has been inscribed in the milestones, the Hall of the Fame, together with the megastars, where the super rock professors have made wave in providing free, high quality online education to the world.

To what extent are these claims of glory to win the gold in Olympic online education “true”?   Should we amplify the claim that it is transforming education, and dampen any claim that it is “disruptive” part to our education system?

We might have massive open online comment MOOC and massive open online criticism taking over the cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

If what was revealed in the survey research (Students-prefer-good-lectures-over-the-latest-technology-in-class)  is reflective of how students learn “best” in class, what are the implications of students learning with latest technology in class or online?

Would it mean that face-to-face interaction is far superior to online interaction?  Should we continue with the traditional classroom delivery with the rockstar professor standing in front of the lecture theatre?

Are these findings compatible with those other research revealed in active learning in class?  Allison Miller in her post says:

The New Media Consortium’s global digital educational meta-trends highlight some of the disruptive changes already happening in education[2], such as:

  • Emerging global and collaborative educational business models of whatever, whenever and wherever learning.
  • Creating and consuming rich media through mobile and cloud-based delivery, which is refining our notion of literacies.
  • Acknowledging the role of informal and self-directed learning, which is redefining who can accredit educational experiences.
  • Increasing openness of content, data and resources, and changing practices for online ownership and privacy.

I would hope that these are viewed as transformative rather than disruptive changes in the history of online education.  Can we do better with MOOCs?  Have people really understood what a great  MOOC look like?

Postscript: A post on MOOC that asks:  Are MOOCs hyped?  Really interesting experience from a Professor as a learner in MOOC.

#CFHE12 #Oped12 MOOCs emerging as Landscape of Change – Part 4 Groups versus Networks

Here is my response to Mary’s comments:

Would you like to elaborate on George’s assertions in 2005? I hope I could relate to the hypothesis that you are referring to. I have a conversation with George face to face when he visited Sydney last year. You might have noted my postings on blog.

As I have mentioned in part 3, there had been some changes in the way cMOOCs were designed and implemented, throughout the years – from CCK08, 09, 11,12 and Change11.

Would our findings from the papers still be accurate?

I think the current xMOOCs are trying to work MORE like the traditional groups, and so it did behave in some ways similar to traditional online courses, where the support came solely from the “video lectures” by the rock star professors, and participants were trying to get more social interactions themselves through those forum sessions.

xMOOCs are then more group based learning, rather than networked based learning. This has an issue of power being centralized still with the authority figure (the expert professor) where the only credible source of knowledge is to be transmitted and consumed.

Besides, the quiz and assessment would be set by the central authority, possibly graded by machine (for there are only one right answer) and so there is no way of negotiating the assessment or learning methods. Besides, interaction with any professors in xMOOC is limited. If we were to compare that to cMOOCs, then there are obvious differences, in that every participant (like you, me, and many others) are “power free” to share and interact with whatever that interests us, and challenge ourselves on the assumptions behind each of the assertions, through connective and collective inquiry, critical thinking and reflection.

The peer assessment in xMOOCs sounds quite similar to our previous cMOOCs, though we didn’t have the specific assessment criteria in judging each others’ work. I appreciate the value of feedback in assessment in MOOC, and think it has been working with the cMOOCs for years, though we never grade our peers or vote on each others’ writings.

I could re-examine all the research data and findings for the last few MOOCs (CCK08, PLENK2010), and that of my observation for the latest MOOCs – Change11, this Oped12, and CFHE, on the properties of networks, and how they might have changed.

Finally, I think group and networked learning each has its merits and limitations, when it comes to social networks, and traditional formal learning.

Networked learning addresses the highest forms of learning – metacognition with critical thinking, creative learning and creativity skills development, and most important all, personalised emergent learning.  See my part 3 for details.

Traditional formal learning would address the mastery learning in knowledge (facts), understanding, application and analysis, and synthesis.

When it comes to creation of new or emerging knowledge, these could hardly be assessed via the traditional testing and assessment (based on MC, short answers with known answers).

The existing xMOOCs do encourage individuals to excel in their mastery of content of the course, where the professors are holding the “keys” to the questions, and thus grading the participants accordingly, with machine grading, or peer assessment.

Would we need to push the boundary in the assessment in MOOCs? How about assessment of both individuals and networks on their performance? This included the impact each networker made and contributed to the network and community, and the ultimate knowledge creation as a result of interactions and research.

Postscript: See this post on Evolving Pedagogy.

New Demands of a Knowledge-Based Society

There are several separate factors at work here. The first is the continuing development of new knowledge, making it difficult to compress all that learners need to know within the limited time span of a post-secondary course or program. This means helping learners to manage knowledge – how to find, analyze, evaluate, and apply knowledge as it constantly shifts and grows.

The second factor is the increased emphasis on skills or applying knowledge to meet the demands of 21st century society, skills such as critical thinking, independent learning, knowing how to use relevant information technology, software, and data within a field of discipline, and entrepreneurialism. The development of such skills requires active learning in rich and complex environments, with plenty of opportunities to develop, apply and practice such skills.

Lastly it means developing students with the skills to manage their own learning throughout life, so they can continue to learn after graduation.

#CFHE12 #Oped12 MOOCs emerging as Landscape of Change – Part 2

Mancy commented in my blog post:

“You mention that you believe that with the emergence of MOOCs, the “current education model would be “shaken” and further disrupted…” Are you referring to MOOCs constituting a technological discontinuity within the current tertiary education industry? Because I thought that whilst the MOOCs offers a dominant design, it is not a type of discontinuity (As we have already seen this technology in the former development of e-learning and online education, the only difference being that it is now available to a large market, as well as being free). You have also made comparisons to traditional forms of learning, and explained how MOOCs can offer the ‘future of education’. I am just not sure whether you mean MOOCs will offer the future of education in regards to ‘online’ teaching & learning, or future of tertiary education overall. Because in my opinion, I would have thought that the tertiary education format of the ‘face-to-face- teaching & learning still stands as the ‘dominant’ design, and due to institutional logics, cannot be easily replaced. Rather, the MOOCs will be a dominant design of the type of ‘e-learning’ and ‘distance education ‘s have seen in history, referring to the likes of University of Phoenix, NYU Online, and Fathom. I thank you for taking your time to read this and look forward to your reply. Kind Regards, Mancy

My response as follows:

Our current education model would be shaken and further disrupted as there are urges to populate courses to accommodate an increasing number of students, but these institutions are finding it difficult to get enough students to enrol into their courses.  Institutions are busily restructuring their organisation and deploying various education strategies (with online and distance education courses offered) in order to stay economically viable and competitive in a global education market.

Increasingly, there is a huge problem that is associated with the funding and the continuing rise of tuition when studying for a degree in colleges and universities.

“The cost of a college degree in the United States has increased “12 fold” over the past 30 years, far outpacing the price inflation of consumer goods, medical expenses and food.

According to Bloomberg, college tuition and fees have increased 1,120 percent since records began in 1978.

“Soaring tuition and shrinking incomes are making college less and less affordable,” Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in an e-mailed statement. “For millions of young people, rising college costs are putting the American dream on hold, or out of reach.”

The figure tells it all, when falling enrolment figures in traditional universities and colleges led to further pressures for institutions to respond to the needs of the society and large number of potential applicants applying for colleges.  Institutions are strategically positioning their course to attract more students to take up  their colleges and universities places.

On the other end of the education spectrum, MOOCs are now registered with millions of participants.  Though these MOOCs are mostly associated with the elite higher education institutions (universities), they have become derivatives that could out-perform their mainstream courses, as evidenced in the Stanford University’s AI course by Sebastian Thrun.

Would that be a concern to most higher education institutions – colleges and universities?

As more and more universities are relying on the MOOCs to help them in promoting their courses, and reducing the costs of delivery by associating or partnering themselves with MOOCs, what would happen?

You could get college credits from MOOC (see this want-college-credit-for-a-mooc-no-problem-says-antioch-university).

“Whilst the MOOCs offers a dominant design, it is not a type of discontinuity.”

xMOOCs are offering education of a significantly “different kind”, and apart from them being free, they are open.  This paper provides an overview of the MOOCs and their development.

MOOC – Coursera has disrupted the traditional classroom.

Tony says:

The first kind of ‘knowledge’ can be delivered efficiently on a mass scale using information transmission, automated testing, etc. The problem is though that these jobs are increasingly being replaced by either cheap labour or increasingly by machines. To develop the second kind of outcomes, learners need interaction with other learners and experts, qualitative assessment by subject experts, and a rich learning environment.

In ‘traditional’ online courses, there is this kind of interaction; in MOOCs there is not, at least to date. The problem is that this kind of ‘transactional’ learning between student and teacher is difficult to scale up, at least on a large scale. In traditional online learning, where a faculty member designs the course and delivers it, the development cost is less than a third of the delivery costs – the time of the instructor interacting with students. This is the trade-off when you try to scale up.

My concern with MOOCs is that their proponents see them as a means to educate the masses for the first kind of learning, while reserving the second kind of learning for those who pay very high fees to come to their campuses. This will merely widen the inequalities that already exist. We need to find ways of making the second kind of learning available on a mass scale, but there has to be a price paid to do this, whether it is through taxes, tuition fees or a combination of both.

So, MOOCs could put significant pressures back to institutions, where transactional learning would need to be “scale up” to the masses, with tens or hundreds of thousands of students, in order to attract more students to study.

The challenge is: would such way of educating the massive number of students be sustainable with the existing funding model?

What about the high drop out and attrition rates, and low completion rates, the on-line identification of students, plagiarism and cheating, and language issues that had all impacted the reputation of online education, in particular MOOCs?   How would these not disrupt the traditional higher institutions if they are not responding to the call of open on-line education if their enrolment continues to fall, and that more and more students are joining MOOCs for continuing studies and learning?

In this post:

“And that’s when I have my being-blown-away moment. The traffic is astonishing. There are thousands of people asking – and answering – questions about dominant mutations and recombination. And study groups had spontaneously grown up: a Colombian one, a Brazilian one, a Russian one. There’s one on Skype, and some even in real life too. And they’re so diligent! If you are a vaguely disillusioned teacher, or know one, send them to Coursera: these are people who just want to learn.”

This is interesting, though not a surprise at all.  These sorts of forum postings and discussions had been ongoing for years, like wikieducator, Google groups, only this time every one seemed to be amazed for the first time of its pervasiveness – with networks all springing up seemingly from nowhere.

If we refer these to study groups, then what would be the role of formal classes, in a traditional classroom, within institution?   Would students like to have a try, and dip a toe into MOOC?  Why not?

Is face-to-face teaching learning still dominant design of tertiary education?  Yes.  That is why MOOCs would soon be taking over some aspects of the traditional teaching, when one could reach a massive number of students normally not afforded in the face-to-face mode of teaching.

Is that the reason why Sebastian Thrun preferred to take the red pill after his experiment with the AI MOOC?  How about the rock star professors who are teaching under MOOC?  Isn’t it great to be admired by hundreds of thousands of participants of MOOC?  What would happen to those who are still teaching in a face-to-face teaching mode?  Would they need to shift their teaching mode because of the need of the community and learners?  What would happen to those educators and students who are accustomed to the face-to-face teaching?

If you still think that xMOOCs are not making any impact on HE, I reckon you have to think again, as this post provides some good food for thoughts.

Education of adults in MOOCs

If children can educate themselves, why can’t adults? This is indeed the philosophy of cMOOCS,  where self-organised learning and peer-to-peer teaching and learning forms the pedagogy of the cMOOCs.

There are educators who don’t think xMOOCs would post any significant “threat” or disruption to higher education institutions with reasons:

MOOC’s have five fundamental problems.

1. It’s too easy to cheat.

2. Star students can’t shine.

3. Employers avoid weird people.

4. Computers can’t grade everything.

5. Money can substitute for ability.

The major challenge is the huge drop-out rate of MOOCs where majority of participants of MOOCs didn’t complete the courses due to various reasons.  Is drop-out really that important in online learning such as MOOCs?  May be not, as I have shared them here.  The more connections one has, the more proficient one has to become, in face of chaotic and complex learning environment.

#CFHE12 #Oped12 MOOCs emerging as Landscape of Change – Part 1

This presentation on Power and Ecosystems of Change – by Ann Pendleton – Jullian is amazing.

Here are some focus points:

From Re-framing to Ecosystems of change

We need new methods and mechanisms

– reality mining, micro-narratives

– boundaries, probes, and modulators

– studio based methods and approaches

– strategic game design

I particularly like the triangle where


Social Networks  ——- Mechanism


was used to explain the connections between the various parts of the ecosystem.

Ann points out the changes involved – from control to communities to cohorts.  Also triangles are fractals in nature.  To me, such forms of triangles have always evolved in social networks as I have shared in my previous posts, see here and here.  I think some of the micro-narratives have evolved as fractals that are further embedded as “fractals” as appeared in social networks – the social networks patterns.  The textexture is an example illustrating how a narrative could be visualized in a network form.

Another example is the Linked In Network, as illustrated below with the social network graph.

I could associate some of the changes in power and the structural changes in the ecosystem – as observed throughout the MOOCs that I have participated in.  MOOCs – i.e. CCKs – 08, 09, 11, 12, Change, eduFuture, and various other connectivist MOOCs could be viewed as an emerging platform which encapsulated the changes – change in terms of the properties of networks –





“The research found that autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness/interactivity are indeed characteristics of a MOOC, but that they present paradoxes which are difficult to resolve in an online course. The more autonomous, diverse and open the course, and the more connected the learners, the more the potential for their learning to be limited by the lack of structure, support and moderation normally associated with an online course, and the more they seek to engage in traditional groups as opposed to an open network.” (Mackness, et al 2010)

Recent MOOCs had adopted a learning as change approach towards “de-centralising” the power that may be connected with “groups” and further distributing the knowledge based on authentic learning with PLE/PLN as the principal basis of personalized learning.

I will continue to explore this pattern of change in my part 2.

#CFHE12 #Oped12 The droids are taking our jobs

Having watched this, I wonder what it means when jobs done by humans are being replaced by droids.

Even machine could grade our work.  Another MOOC bottleneck solved.

“With the current speed online education is developing – every week some 70.000 students sign up for the 200 Coursera courses – it will not be long before other computational problems will be solved.”

Computer could help in doing lots of things, improving computerized grading of short essays.  The problem is, it is still based on an algorithm. Human expresses feelings and emotions that are more subtle and difficult to be interpreted, even with the best algorithms in the world, I suppose.

Again, this comes back to the assumptions we made, as I have suggested in my proposed Assumption Theory.  What have we assumed in this sort of application?  Can we assume that we learn better as the machine learnt what we have learnt, like machine learning?  Are we becoming the machine? Machine in us, and us in the machine.

If the machine is to grade my essay here, would it pass me?  I don’t think any machine would be able to grade my essay “properly” unless such grading criteria has incorporated my views.  But that is a philosophical question, rather than a critical question.

Photo credit.

What do you think?

#CFHE12 #Oped12 A story about freebies

MOOCs are free.  They are hailed as the most important education technology in 200 years,  as shared here.  There are more praises on how online learning would make a difference to the world of education, in helping more people to receive higher education, and in democratizing education.

Online learning also holds the appeal of democratizing education by providing poor people in any village the opportunity to “rub minds” with the most brilliant professors on the planet.”

Online learning would be the future of education, there is little doubt about it.

I don’t find this surprising, as I realized that it is a catalyst of disruptive technology that could revolutionalize education.

Is MOOCs a great sign to turn education upside down, with learners as the pinnacle of education and learning?   Not yet.

I am both fascinated and awed about what would come next, when these MOOCs take over the “battle” in the education arena.  MOOCs are blossoming, developing rapidly, and are ubiquitous.

Is education about prescribed, pre-determined learning or emergent learning?  Will such form of education learning revolutionize education?

What happens if the learners become too receptive of “freebies” in education and believe that open education should be free for all?  Is education still be of great value as perceived by the learners?

As shared here?  “For other faulty members – those teaching languages in particular – the prospect is for near or total obsolescence”.

In an 1838 address to graduates of the Harvard Divinity School, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Truly speaking, it is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul.”

“I don’t think we can emphasize too much this distinction between instruction and provocation, facts versus knowledge, discipline versus inspiration, information versus insight,” Delbanco said.

What would happen if the best education turns up to be all about education offered for free by the Super Rock Stars teachers, and best professors in the world?  Who are the winners?  Wouldn’t that be similar to Olympic Games where the best Olympians win the medals?

Would education based on MOOCs be more than just as the Olympic Games?

What is the purpose of education?

What should our education look like?

Here are some wonderful ideas that relate to the future of education:

Funding and Finance

Distinctiveness and specialisation

Student experience and widening participation



I am in favor of open, free education.  The reality is: education has become a business.  For a business to survive and thrive, it must be profitable.

Does education need to be “profitable” if it is run on a business model?

We need to have a sustainable education. Where will the finance needed to run education be coming from?  Would it be from the government, venture capitalists, businesses, charitable organization, or philanthropists?

The Story

Here is a fictitious story that I learnt through a very old movie, back in the 60s.

There once lived a group of kind-hearted and loving people in a Chinese village.   These “good” people were so kind to each others that they ran their “small business” and offered their service to other people in the village at a very low price and low profit margin.  These good people provided all sorts of services including the provision of hair cuts and selling of buns often with little to low charges for those old people, young kids, and those who were poor.

Soon, news were spread about such great acts of love and serving others, with a spirit of altruism to the neighbours.    This also  attracted a lot of jealousy from other people in the village who had lost their profits because of these good people’s wonderful business and acts.

Some people in the village decided to compete with these good people by offering their services of hair- cutting and selling of buns at a cut-throat price.

Here, the competition began.

The good people decided that they would offer their hair cut and their buns for near to a zero cost.  And they attracted hundreds of customers from their village.

The other group responded by offering their hair cuts and buns for free.   And the customers immediately flocked to their free service.

Here, the good people decided to offer “free buns” for every hair cuts offered to their customers.  That seemed to be the perfect way of running business and serving the society.

In a modern world, isn’t that the perfect model of socialism where everyone enjoys the freedom of choice and wonderful free services and social equity?  May be free service and products for everyone is the best way to serve a society, based on the concept and principles of “free, open education”.

Is that what a Utopian society should look like?

So do you want to know what happens next?  Both groups of people were competing so fiercely that they ended up not getting any profits from the customers, their fellow villagers.

That wasn’t the end of story.  That was only the beginning of the story, where learning started.   Those good people realized that they had to re-think and reflect on what it means to offer free services for all in the community.

That is the story.

The modern Story of MOOCs

Those were the days of the MOOCers in the 60s.  Is it significantly different from that of the MOOCers of the 2012s?  May be not.

How would our story of MOOCs end?  We might have to re-think about how we could offer our services to the world for free.  Internet has opened up the opportunities of free, open education for everyone.  Providers of MOOCs are trying to leverage the “power” and value of internet and webs  to achieve their visions.

But would anyone be able to beat the disruptive technology and its associated free open education offered through internet and social networks?

May be, it is better to surf the internet rather than to fight with the internet and the tsunami of online education, in its various forms – like MOOCs.

Here “Stanford University President John Hennessy has likened the latest wave of online education — from simple video lectures to entire degrees earned online — to a tsunami.

“What I told my colleagues is there’s a tsunami coming,” he said recently. “I can’t tell you exactly how it’s going to break, but my goal is to try to surf it, not to just stand there.”

These require educational leadership, to direct and guide education and learning towards a better future.  Who would take up such leadership?  Would it be all of you? What HE needs from future HE leaders?