The Massive Open Online Professor 2012-08-20


“The challenges faced by higher education around the world are daunting and cannot be met by the traditional institution-based education system. For the current model to meet the needs of future generations, we would need to build and fund thousands of new universities. And yet the past ten years have demonstrated that there is another way. Scalable education on the web is increasingly possible, largely through the use of commodity software that is easy to use and available freely or at low cost to anyone. Consider: Stanford and MIT recently started offering free online courses, and both universities enrolled more than 100,000 users. In one Stanford course, on artificial intelligence, 25,000 users completed all required homework assignments and received a certificate for their participation. Not only is online learning beginning to scale massively, but it is also beginning to do so at almost zero marginal cost. Even the issue that seems to resist low-cost scaling the most—meaningful assessment, certification and recognition of learning—is starting to change. The Stanford artificial intelligence course offered certificates for those who completed the course work. MIT announced it will set up a separate organization, called MITx, to offer certificates for online learners. The Mozilla Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, Peer 2 Peer University, and others are hard at work on developing a system of portable online ‘badges’ that would help learners to demonstrate and share evidence of what they have learned in informal or formal settings. We are approaching a tipping point where education and educators can use technology to reach almost every person on the planet inexpensively. However, the result may not look like the conventional university experience we recognize today... it remains to be seen how these developments will change the structure of education, influence the purpose of institutions, and shape the role of the professor. These developments may feel threatening, but they also offer exciting opportunities... The term ‘massive open online course’, or MOOC (coined by Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander) is sometimes used to describe these types of courses, because they: take place online; are open in the sense that participation is typically free of charge and learning materials can be modified, re-used, and distributed to others; and reach massive communities of tens of thousands of learners. MOOCs are a relatively new phenomenon, but they recently captured public attention when Stanford University launched a set of free online courses. Sebastian Thrun, one of the pioneers at Stanford, created the artificial intelligence course that attracted over 160,000 users (though only 25,000 finished the course). Inspired by this success he founded Udacity, a for-profit start-up that will use a similar model for online instruction, with the goal of making an entire computer science course available at no cost. Thrun’s Stanford colleagues Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng also participated in the first round of Stanford MOOCs and subsequently spun off Coursera, another for-profit start-up, which aims to provide a platform for other universities to host similar online courses. MIT, open education pioneer and founder of the OpenCourseWare movement, announced in December 2011 the creation of MITx as an open and non-profit alternative to for-profits like Udacity and Coursera. MITx is currently offering its first course... A number of other universities, including Harvard University and Georgia Tech, are paying close attention and developing their own massive, open, and online strategies. A quick review of the key characteristics these MOOCs share will help us better understand what opportunities they offer to universities and professors... Open content lies at the core of these massive online courses. Typically, a series of video lectures, with short quizzes built in, make up the bulk of the instruction for users... Since 2002, more than 250 universities in the OpenCourseWare movement have been publishing their academic materials openly on the Web and have shared materials from more than 15,000 courses in a wide range of disciplines and languages. These institutions are well positioned to add online-only courses to their open course work projects. A number of online services already allow free hosting and streaming of instructional videos. Since the materials are openly licensed, the need for sophisticated access management is obviated, and the materials can thus be made freely available... There are not enough subject matter experts to meet the needs of learners, and education systems worldwide are straining to find enough qualified teachers. MOOCs recognize this fact by setting up informal Q&A systems that allow participants to engage with each other. In some cases where peer-to-peer interactions are not directly supported within an online course, informal learning communities can emerge spontaneously on separate platforms. Peer-to-peer does not necessarily mean all learners are at the same level, however. Many models attempt



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.licensing oa.comment oa.copyright oa.crowd oa.oer oa.metrics oa.costs oa.social_media oa.prestige oa.floss oa.benefits oa.harvard.u oa.stanford.u oa.mitx oa.coursera oa.udacity oa.p2p oa.moocs oa.p2pu oa.openstudy oa.georgia_tech oa.ning oa.moodle oa.libre oa.courseware



Date tagged:

08/20/2012, 17:48

Date published:

05/08/2012, 15:02