The Tomorrow’s Professor newsletter out of Stanford has an interesting article about comments made by Stanford President, John Hennessy, about the future of online learning
The main point he made was that this is a time of great experimentation in the area of online learning, and education departments around the world need to scientifically study online learning models and teach the rest of the faculty how to tame this beast. Specifically:
Hennessy said that colleges and universities will be taking a more scientific approach to online learning than in the past, relying on their schools of education to measure student learning and to provide feedback.
“I’m actually pretty confident that we’re going to come out with pedagogical approaches that are truly a step forward in terms of helping our students be better learners – and that will really be refreshing,” Hennessy said.
For example, this is an example of some interesting ways in which online courses are used by people around the world:
“Imagine that ‘Book of the Month Club’ becomes ‘Course of the Month Club’,” Hennessy said. “With a little bit of technology, a community of learners self-assembles around a course and forms a group. They do peer grading. They interchange. They exchange conversations and they learn the material together. I think we’ll see this happening. It would be a wonderful thing and great for the world.”
Another interesting aspect is that the difficulty level of exams probably needs to be adjusted:
At UC Berkeley and Stanford, he said, faculty members design exams to challenge students.”Now, take that exam to a school where perhaps the students are not quite as capable and give them that exam and you’re going to crush them,” he said.
In fact, the one of the most important areas in which online courses are being offered is education itself:
Hennessy said one thing that MOOCs do very well is “educate the educators” in other parts of the world, allowing them to use the material to prepare courses for their students.
And finally, this:
In response to a question from the audience, Hennessy said some faculty have reported that more students are attending classes when they have “flipped” the classroom – delivering lectures online and meeting in the classroom for one-on-one interaction and hands-on projects. While those early indicators are positive, he said, controlled experiments would be the key to understanding how well students are mastering the material in those settings.
Read the full article