by Stephen Downes
Dec 13, 2016
The title above is of course the title the FutureLearn used on its press release (as is my custom, my post titles follow the article titles). But they should be advised that something is a MOOC only if it is open. And these programs are definitely not open - "Students will enrol for free in a two-week ‘taster’ course. If they decide to continue and become a degree student they will pay £1,500 or AUD $2,600 for the equivalent of one university subject. Each of these subjects will be made up of a program of five short FutureLearn courses." It doesn't say how many programs make up a degree, but never mind. These courses are expensive. And it's not a MOOC platform any more if you lock it up and charge people their life savings for admission.
I just got a launch announcement for this zine in my email, and the logo says it's still in beta, so I'm assuming the sparse population of articles in the website will begin to fill out a bit. The purpose of ILR is to provide "a curated hub of the latest insight into the issues, practices, research, ideas, discussion, and resources from innovative learning professionals around the world." According to the blurb it is "original as well as aggregated and curated in content, crowdsourced with content recommendations [and] interactive so content and dialogue flows both ways." So we'll see. It's sponsored by AACE and SITE, and fronts their publication portal LearnTechLib.
eCampus Ontario has just released its strategic plan for 2016-28 (21 page PDF). It will be guided by four overall goals: enhance the student learning experience, support faculty development, enhance member capacity and participation, and build eCampusOntario’s organizational capacity. hard to argue with those. What I found interesting in the document was the description of what students want. It's great that they actually asked them. 90% "would choose online delivery over in class because it "allows me to have control over the time and place I learn."
This article looks at some of the work in the online comment space (also known as the Great Cesspool of the Internet) offering "a mixture of technical innovation and social incentives could make online comments readable—and even engaging." For example, Civil - "The online equivalent of taking ten deep breaths before picking a fight." Or the Coral Project, which has a tool called Ask for embeddable comments and feedback, as supporting tools called Talk and Trust. Or the Engaging News Project, which has an embeddable quiz widget. Or of course Disqus, which is used here at OLDaily. Of course, these are all aimed at publishers, and not really suitable for blogs or personal publications.
I think it's more than just American education that has "lost the narrative" and I think it was in need of a rethink well before Trump. And I've also expressed my scepticism in the past about the ability of the higher education sector to reform itself. I continue to be sceptical. Higher education as a whole, as Patricia McGuire says, "has been adrift in a devolving eddy of self-pity, whining about overregulation while obsessing about bracket placements and rankings, pandering to political and philanthropic overlords while remaining largely silent on the great social issues of our times."
So what's needed? McGuire identifies three major areas of change:
These issues have all received priority in these pages. As, I believe, they should.
This article should be an eye-opener for those arguing for 'traditional' education and pedagogy. It is precisely to escape that model that Indian students head elsewhere for their degrees. In India, "education is more theory-based rather than practical thus creativity is not at all encouraged. Education is based on rote-learning and is exam-oriented... Education thus becomes a mere formality. The acquisition of a degree does not equate with real learning." By contrast, "In foreign universities, education is given and absorbed by practical measures. There is more hands on experience and thus the learning acquired is real and has depth... through research-oriented assignments and project work. The aim is to make the students independent and themselves responsible for their learning." Yet it is surprising how many people in our system argue for the former and not for the latter.
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