What is the mission of Higher Education Institution and MOOCs?

“Can we assume that our education system (including most MOOCs) is primarily built on a behavioral/instructivist model of education? Teachers are expected to motivate students, keep them interested in class & in school, and ensure that they perform to the standards required, through TEACHING.”

Thanks to Doug Holton for the reference:  FROM TEACHING TO LEARNING – A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education (Barr and Tagg, 1995) where Barr and Tagg say:

To say that the purpose of colleges is to provide instruction is like saying that General Motors’ business is to operate assembly lines or that the purpose of medical care is to fill hospital beds. We now see that our mission is not instruction but rather that of producing learning with every student by whatever means work best.

Hasn’t there been any changes from Teaching to Learning? What pedagogy and education paradigm are being adopted by institutions and MOOC? Most of us as educators know “how to teach” through teacher training. How about the production of learning that our institutions should aim for as a mission? Without learners taking responsibility, learning in action (likely through motivation), what teachers could best do is to “transmit knowledge and information” from their heads to the students’ head. How to ensure such knowledge is always kept up to date, if such knowledge is transmitted in our education system?

How do these relate to the mission of MOOCs?

The mission of edX via MOOCs:

“While MOOCs have typically focused on offering a variety of online courses inexpensively or for free, edX’s vision is much larger. EdX is building an open source educational platform and a network of the world’s top universities to improve education both online and on campus while conducting research on how students learn.”

This seems similar to my posting here in opportunistic education:

There are further opportunities in building education models where quality of education and learning experience are co-constructed and co-created by multiple networks of institutions and communities and networks, with a consortium of MOOCs like edXUdacityCoursera or the UK Open Learn initiative.

Alternative platforms of MOOCs in forms of opportunities of learning are emerging, and competition is keen, among MOOCs’ providers as more and more institutions joined the bandwagon of MOOCs. As I shared in my post, MOOCs need to be viewed differently in an institutional framework, if a business model is to be adopted.  Developing and adopting a vision and mission that embrace disruptive innovation and take calculated risks is never easy.  It is however the best time to transform education through integrating pockets of changes, where a ground breaking attempt would eventually help the institution in morphing into a totally new world of education, probably with MOOCs.


Teaching and Learning in MOOCs

What sort of teaching and learning experience is most valuable in MOOCs (xMOOCs in particular)?

In this video Peter Norvig reflects on his experience whilst teaching his AI MOOC.

Every student is a teacher, and every teacher is a student. Couldn’t agree more.  Relating to the setting of deadlines as an “innovation”, that sounds like a back to the basic – push to students, using a behavioral approach.  For me, I think it depends on what sort of learning is needed.  For deep and personalized learning, I do think we would need to allow more autonomy for the students, so they could set up the goals, pace their learning with timelines whenever possible, instead of setting the pace for everyone to take, just like that in a traditional classroom.  This would allow slow learners to learn more progressively, and fast learners to speed up their learning too.

Open versus close learning

Scott says in this Close Learning:

I propose that we begin calling it “close learning.” “Close learning” evokes the laborious, time-consuming, and costly but irreplaceable proximity between teacher and student. “Close learning” exposes the stark deficiencies of mass distance learning such as MOOCs, and its haste to reduce dynamism, responsiveness, presence.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/07/11/essay-calls-alternative-massive-online-learning#ixzz2YsrXRYFm
Inside Higher Ed

I see open and close learning the 2-sides of the same coin, just as rote/shallow and deep learning – that are all coined learning, just dependent on the approach of learning and the pedagogy employed. Here is my sharing.

MOOCs are platforms, tools (embedded with technology) and philosophy, where there is no one right set of approach, though one could use instructivism, cognitivism, constructivism and social constructivism, and connectivism.

The present xMOOCs seem to rely heavily on instructivism, and that seems to resonate with the super-professors and xMOOC providers and administrators. All the posts we found seem to relate to connectivism though, where collective wisdom is distilled through conversation, Socratic questioning and responses, and critique with more in-depth understanding of each others’ views.

To what extent are these compatible with the face to face (25 plus) students interactive experience? It depends on what sort of learning that we are referring to, isn’t it? If we are referring to prescriptive knowledge and definitive learning outcomes, surely face to face teaching and learning would be far better way to share the learning experiences, within the 1 hour session.

However, if you want to solicit more ideas, more “words” of wisdom from a diversified source, then the current blogging conversation (as part of PLE) would provide that sort of interesting points of views.

I reckon every learner is different, and that depends on the learning style, background knowledge, skills and experience, when it comes to learning. One size doesn’t suit all, and so are MOOCs. Treat MOOCs as tools, and if we like, an experiment and game to play with. If it doesn’t work, ask why, and how to make it work better. Is that what (we) want?

Transformation of Higher Education – Why is it so hard?

Is transformation of Higher Education possible?  My reflections:

Relating to the ideas on transformation of  Higher Education with improved teaching and education reform as discussed in this article, I reckon this is similar to the adoption of a connectivist approach in Higher Education.  There are still long roads to cross, due to the enculturated values of teaching and research that have been embraced by both professors and administrators for decades.  Besides there are demands of stability under an education system in Higher Education, it would be difficult to transform Higher Education without changing the pedagogy.  Transformation of Higher Education through improved teaching requires a review of the pedagogy adopted in HE.  I would reflect on this important aspect in another post relating to MOOCs.

Carl envisions and demands better teaching, with push backs from other academics due to challenge of traditional values and cultures that have been in the education system for decades.  I think many professors do know what could be done to improve & innovate teaching.  Higher Education values research over teaching, and that wouldn’t be changing as research “creates” & generate new knowledge, whilst teaching would at best transmit knowledge, as generally perceived by professors and students.

For those very smart & talented students, wouldn’t they just need minimum guidance and would then excel as Carl has cited in the article, under an apprenticeship model, with graduates?  For under-graduate students, only the top and talented students would learn most effectively with such model, as they are self-motivated and regulated.

For most other students, there are still needs for close support and mentoring, that are obviously absent if the only way to learn is the 50 min mass lecture method.

If I were to ask Carl: Is your Nobel Prize based on research or teaching?  If the answer is teaching, then would professors be considering how to improve teaching in a deeper way?

Besides, all PhD and Doctorate programs are still focusing on research as a principal means to gauge and evaluate a persons’ achievement in scholastic and research in the field.  How would we expect  professors to spend time in “teaching” their students when such PhD students are already good enough to learn with technology and network affordance?

But would this be an over-simplification of what teaching of under-graduate programs are all about?  Teaching concepts or correcting misunderstood or incorrect concepts in science is important.  However, would the use of MC and T/F or short answer questions be good enough to inculcate the values and applications of science in real life?

Some students would still prefer lecture method, and so many professors would continue to do so (and I think I would practice it too), as any negative comments or feedback from students would only lead to professors adopting more teacher-centered approach, when they are reminded that these are what the students want – to know the answers to the examination, tests, quizzes and assignments straight away, instead of spending time exploring themselves.

Some students are uncomfortable with this approach—even if it’s more effective. “I remember getting an evaluation from one
[UCSD] student who had just finished my course,” says Simon, a pioneer in the use of peer instruction within her field. “I loved
it. It read, ‘I just wish she’d have lectured. Instead, I had to learn the material myself.’ ” See above article.

Numerous researches have hinted that students want simple and effective means of learning, not complicated or complex tasks which are both time-consuming and difficult to perform.  That is the reality and challenge that most educators and professors are facing Higher Education.  Isn’t it?

The old motto: “Tell them what you want to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you have told them” have now been “transformed” into various formats of video lectures (both mass video lectures and short video lectures with quizzes – like those on Youtube), teaching posts or artifacts, or a combination of face-to-face lectures with online tutorials/quizzes – MC, T/F, and short answer questions, or peer assessments, or eportfolios.