Great write up from Tony Bates from a recent conference at MIT. It provides a great overview of some of the topics covered during the talks, and also provides a really interesting overview of the structures and history of online learning and teaching at MIT.
In his final observations he makes a couple of key points that I think apply to most higher education institutions (and perhaps explains why online learning has been so bad for so long).
MIT is still tied though to the lecture as the main means of delivery for online learning. In fact, the MIT students on the panel showed that they understand the need to adopt a different approach to online learning better than the faculty.
I’m a fan of the lecture as a format - but not for ongoing teaching. Lectures should be seen as an effective content delivery mechanism but it’s use should be limited. It should augment actual engagement with students, not be the form of engagement. Which perhaps says a lot about the next point too (emphasis added).
MOOCs are the consequence of lecture capture technology. This technology makes it easy to move teaching online, but without changing the design of the teaching. This usually results in information transmission becoming the primary pedagogy, without addressing the many limitations of lectures, except the ability for asynchronous access, which is an important improvement on the ‘live’ lecture.
Information transmission is what I often refer to as Content First design and its what’s holding back higher education from really improving its overall learning and teaching practices. There’s a historic reason for this, the scarcity of information and knowledge, but that’s what the internet has changed. Instead we have information abundance which completely devalues and obsoletes information transmission as a primary pedagogy.
Source: MOOCs, MIT and Magic
Image: photo credit: Science vacation via photopin (license)