DailyDirt: The Future Of Higher Education Is Online

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Online education is set to revolutionize higher education, making it more affordable, more accessible, more efficient, and more effective. Of course, online education works only if it's done right. It's not enough to simply lecture to students through a computer. Online courses also need to be dynamic and interactive to compensate for the lack of human contact through a physical classroom. Here are some other considerations about online education. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.


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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 5:09pm

    distance learning has been around for decades (or more)

    looks like people are finally working on making teaching into science (maybe).

     

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    Karl (profile), Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:53pm

    Hot topic in education right now

    At the community college where I got my associate's degree, they're starting to take online courses seriously. They've always had online courses (mostly of the simple office-worker-skills variety), but now they're implementing free online courses as well.

    This fall, they're actually offering the Python course from MIT's OpenCourseWare as an in-class course. The main materials will still be online, but they're also holding in-person classes (which are mostly labs). It's not free (it is cheap), but it counts as a 3-credit course, applicable to a CS/IT degree.

    Obviously, this isn't perfect, and there are some kinks to work out. But the fact that the online courses (even free ones) are actually enabling these sorts of courses, is very good news. Especially for lower-income students.

    Now, if only they weren't so beholden to Microsoft and the textbook publishers...

     

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    Jim L, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 9:05pm

    Let Google Try

    Google is releasing an open source tool called Course Builder
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2409589,00.asp

     

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    Christopher A., Mar 12th, 2013 @ 9:50pm

    What's Next For Credentialing?

    I self-teach. Problem is getting people to recognize my competencies.

    But colleges have a monopoly on that—credentialing. Other than that, things like word of mouth, web reputation and certificate programs could credential me, so to speak. That's not good enough.

    Imagine if any achievement could be seen as evidence for a particular competency? And anyone could be a judge of competency?

    Obviously, certain achievements are more relevant for showing expertise than others. And certain competency judges would be better than others. But it'd radically change not just who gets to recognize achievement, but what gets recognized.

    There's more to this concept and it's called, open p2p credentialing.

     

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      ottonomy (profile), Mar 13th, 2013 @ 10:21am

      Re: What's Next For Credentialing?

      Hi! Have you heard of The Open Badges Infrastructure? The open education movement has been looking at the credentialing gap for years, and one of the initiatives that have come out of that effort is the open badges project, led by the Mozilla Foundation.

      Here's Scott Leslie on why badges represent a disruption that a network of badge issuers and endorsers could present to the credentialing monopoly traditional higher ed has enjoyed.

      Of course the community of issuers is so far small. The official release of the 1.0 specification is happening this week, mostly through the Digital Media and Learning conference tomorrow in Chicago.

      The number of issuers will grow, and the number of people taking open credentials seriously will grow as well. I think though, that the most important factor in open credentials gaining steam is people like you who bravely assert that yes, my learning and skills have value and here's the evidence.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2013 @ 2:23am

    The fundamental problem that online education must overcome is the conflation of information with knowledge.

    You can test if someone knows all the facts associated with a subject quite easily and (on the internet) deliver those facts cheaply and easily.

    What is not so easy is imparting and assessing a deep knowledge and understanding of a subject, which is the real aim of education.

    What's more, subject knowledge is not composed of dead letters imparted to students like bits over a telephone line, it is a living breathing social animal that at some point requires face-to-face interaction.

    Count me a skeptic.

     

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    Adam Bell (profile), Mar 13th, 2013 @ 6:20am

    Face time is a vital component of teaching

    Having taught Mechanical Engineering for about 40 years, always with good student ratings, I believe that face time is an important aspect of the teacher-student classroom relationship. Good teachers gage the students' comprehension of the material being presented or discussed by the look on classroom faces. After you get to know a class, you know which students are good indicators of comprehension. Obviously, you then adjust your examples and explanations to surmount whatever conceptual barriers are slowing or even preventing wide understanding of a tricky bit.

    To give a trivial example of a conceptual leap, young kids, learning the concept of subtraction for the first time, will often answer "5" when presented with "5 - 3 = ?". Misunderstand the symbols, take away the "3" and you're left with "5". Logical to them. What they are missing is that the numbers are not entities themselves, but represent the count of something else. Drawings on the board make that clear.

    In the early 70s I taught two televised distance courses and even though the connection was two-way (I could see the class in a wide-angle view and hear them as well), both they and I found it very unsatisfying. I couldn't focus on any particular student, I couldn't chat with them after class individually, they couldn't reach me off-hours.

    In the 90s I tried running a forum on the web site for two courses I taught. They rarely used it -- they always came to my door to ask their questions. Why? Because they didn't want their peers to know that they were not getting it and they wanted a longer more detailed explanation than a forum would provide. Answering a student's question requires understanding why they don't already know the answer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2013 @ 6:59am

    Online education is set to revolutionize higher education, making it more affordable, more accessible, more efficient, and more effective.

    then you go on to detail exactly how that is NOT HAPPENING, and outlining the problems and issues that are stopping that from happening.

    you say that, then you explain how to date it's essentially a FAILURE !!!!.. (I guess you are a product of that 'education')..

     

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    Jen Cook, Jun 4th, 2013 @ 6:43am

    I believe online education is the future. Sure, it may not be for everyone, there are some students that would benefit from actually being in the classroom.

    However, online education is a work in progress, and I see it becoming more and more popular.

     

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