Information Age Education Blog
A Game Changer in Higher Education
In terms of academics and research, MIT is a world-class university. In addition, it is playing a leading role in a major change occurring in higher education. This IAE Blog entry draws on an article by Kevin Carey that summarizes what MIT is doing in terms of making its academic course offerings available to the world. Quoting from this article:
MITx is the next big step in the open-educational-resources movement that MIT helped start in 2001, when it began putting its course lecture notes, videos, and exams online, where anyone in the world could use them at no cost. The project exceeded all expectations—more than 100 million unique visitors have accessed the courses so far.
Meanwhile, the university experimented with using online tools to help improve the learning experience for its own students in Cambridge, Mass. Now MIT has decided to put the two together—free content and sophisticated online pedagogy—and add a third, crucial ingredient: credentials. Beginning this spring, students will be able to take free, online courses offered through the MITx initiative. If they prove they've learned the material, MITx will, for a small fee, give them a credential certifying as much.
The article contains a brief discussion of some of the educational ramifications and some of the potential challenges of this move. Here are some of the questions raised:
- How will MIT’s high academic standards be maintained in these distance learning courses?
- Will other institutions accept successful completion of an MITx course for transfer of credit? Somewhat similarly, will employers accept successful completion of a course and/or a coherent collection of courses in terms of hiring?
- What will be the charge for certification of successful completion of a course?
- Will the content, rigor, and quality of these courses help to set worldwide standards that will be a challenge to other colleges and universities?
- Some courses are much more suited to inexpensive distance learning than others. For example, how will the grading and feedback be handled in humanities courses or in art courses, etc?
- Stanford University made a course available in this mode last fall and is planning to make more courses available. It is reported that more than 100,000 people signed up for the course and 20,000 successfully completed the course. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/stanford-university-is-offering-a-free-artificial-intelligence-course.html. Will this lead to a great deal of competition among various institutions?
As the quality and reputability of distance learning continues to improve, schools at both the precollege and higher education levels will have to deal with the impact of a new type of learning opportunity and competition. Right now, both levels of educational systems are able to handle transfer of credit from other institutions. Suppose that a large number of both precollege and higher education courses become available at no cost aside from some sort of certificate of completion fee, and the standards that are maintained are indeed good enough so that it is appropriate to count the courses just like transfer credits are counted. This could have a profound impact on precollege and higher education finances.
The Industrial Revolution made use of steam power, internal combustion engines, and electric motors to supplement and supplant people power and animal power. Automation changed the number of people and their types of skills needed in industrial manufacturing production.
The Information Age and computer technology are used both to assist and/or take over many human cognitive tasks and also to aid in automation of industrial manufacturing tasks. Our educational system is now beginning to experience a type of automation that will greatly change the amount and nature of employment in this field.
These changes will not occur overnight. However, the pace of change is increasing. Hardcover print books can be replaced by online books. This can be a substantial gain both in the lower cost of distributing electronic books and in keeping them up to date. Computer-assisted learning is gradually morphing into Highly Interactive Intelligent Computer-Assisted Learning (HIICAL). Some courses lend themselves to such automation much better than do others—but the economy of scale in courses that lend themselves to such automation is humongous!
What You Can Do
The human-to-human interaction among students and their teachers is a tried and true component of learning. Some aspects of this can be replaced or supplemented through use of computer technology.
Learn the capabilities and limitations of HIICAL as it applies to the subject areas and types of students that you teach. Work on developing your human teaching skills that are not readily replaced by computers. Learn to make use of the emerging power of HIICAL and the new hybrid teaching-learning environment that combines the best attributes of human teachers and of computer technology.
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you:
Are we producing too many teacher education graduates? See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/are-we-producing-too-many-teacher-education-graduates.html.
Computers that learn: Machine learning. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/computers-that-learn-machine-learning.html.
Exploring credits for free online courses. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/exploring-credits-for-free-online-courses/2012/11/13/ccdcbac8-2d8f-11e2-89d4-040c9330702a_story.html.
Grand challenge problems in education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/grand-challenge-problems-in-education.html.
Personalizing educational content and delivery. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/personalizing-education-content-and-delivery.html.
Supersized online courses. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/supersized-online-courses.html.
Carey, K. (1/22/2012). MIT mints a valuable new form of academic currency. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 1/28/2012 from http://chronicle.com/article/MIT-Mints-a-Valuable-New-Form/130410/.
Written by davem, February 04, 2012.
DeSantis, Nick (1/23/2012). Stanford Professor Gives Up Teaching Position, Hopes to Reach 500,000 Students at Online Start-Up. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2/4/2012 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/wir...-up/35135.
Quoting from this article:
The Stanford University professor who taught an online artificial-intelligence course to more than 160,000 students has abandoned his teaching position to aim for an even bigger audience.
Sebastian Thrun, a research professor of computer science at Stanford, revealed today that he had given up his teaching role at the institution to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. He made the surprising announcement during a presentation at the Digital–Life–Design conference, in Munich, Germany. The development was first reported earlier today by Reuters.
One of Udacity’s first offerings will be a seven-week course called “Building a Search Engine.” It will be taught by David Evans, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Virginia and a Udacity partner. Mr. Thrun said it was designed to teach students with no prior programming experience how to build a search engine like Google. He hopes 500,000 students will enroll.
Here is another reference:
Beckett, James (3/6/2012). Stanford offers more free online classes for the world. Retrieved 3/17/2012 from http://news.stanford.edu/news/...0612.html. Quoting from this article:
Stanford University is introducing five free online classes this month, following a successful pilot last fall that drew more than 350,000 participants around the world.
The online classes are part of a university initiative to creatively use new technology to improve education both on campus and off.
Written by davem, February 06, 2012.
Here is a good Q & A article about MITx:
Young, Jeffrey )2/6/2012). MIT’s New Free Courses May Threaten (and Improve) the Traditional Model, Program’s Leader Says. The Chronicle of Higher Educaiton. Retrieved 2/6/2012 fromhttp://http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/mits-new-free-courses-may-threaten-the-traditional-model-programs-leader-says/35245.
Written by davem, March 30, 2012.
Parry, Marc (3/29/2012). No Financial Aid, No Problem. For-Profit University Sets $199-a-Month Tuition for Online Courses. The Chronicle of Higher Educatoin. retrieved 3/30/2012 from http://chronicle.com/article/N..._medium=en.
The article provides a summary of various for-profit and non-for-profit initiatives in higher education online education.
Written by davem, February 07, 2012.
See Math Learning Difficulties: Dyscalculia at http://www.dyscalculiatreatment.com/.