Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MOOCs Will Mean the Death of Universities? Not Likely

A depiction of the world's oldest continually ...
A depiction of the world's oldest continually operating university, the University of Bologna, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Professor Stephen King, Professor, Department of Economics at Monash University, The Conversation: http://theconversation.edu.au

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are gaining a lot of attention. Some commentators believe that these free internet-delivered courses are the future of university education.

Others meanwhile argue that MOOCs are simply an updated version of the old-fashioned correspondence course.

The reason MOOCs are getting this attention is the recent involvement of elite American universities such as Stanford, Harvard, and MIT. These universities, through different platforms, are putting their courses online for free, with some offering accreditation.

However, within all the commentary on the rise of MOOCs, the death of the university campus has been grossly exaggerated.

MOOCs mania

Current online courses are often based on videos of “chalk and talk” lectures. If you thought your economics lecturer was boring in person, try watching him or her on a 50 minute internet video!

MOOCs will not threaten existing university education - and are unlikely to survive - unless they adapt to the internet as a medium of delivery. This involves short audio or video clips based on single topics that can be adapted into different course sequences and used by the students in conjunction with other online tools such as social media and blogs.

For most tertiary students, MOOCs will simply be one part of the university learning experience. They will not supersede on-campus classes for the same reason that telecommuting has not made the office redundant.

People like to interact in person with other people. And students learn from other students. The internet will augment but not replace the face-to-face experience.

A celebration of integration

So what is the future of Australian university education? I think it will involve four integrated elements.

First, the class will be “inverted”. Students will be expected to access a range of materials about a topic before coming to class. Some of this material will be free on the internet, some will be provided on the internet by publishers (and may be tied to a textbook) and some will be provided by the lecturer (e.g. moderated web discussions).

Second, students will be assessed on the material before coming to class. The assessment will involve an online test, with each test worth a few percent at most. The test helps students understand how well they have learnt the material. Importantly, it provides the lecturer with feedback before the lecture.

Third, the lecturer will provide a “classroom experience” to students based on their test results. The lecturer will design the class material to address those areas where the students are having the most trouble.

To read further, go to: http://theconversation.edu.au/moocs-will-mean-the-death-of-universities-not-likely-8830?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+28+August+2012&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+28+August+2012+CID_c1c50e259f9f8b65ea6d301b521499c0&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=MOOCs+will+mean+the+death+of+universities+Not+likely
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