Posted by: crudbasher | October 12, 2010

The Essence of Education

I have maintained for a while that they key to transforming education is to not focus on the technology to be used, but to focus on new types of Pedagogy, then look for technology to support it.  The story I am quoting below is an example of that.  In this course, you can start when you want and take up to 120 days to finish.  You work by yourself or with a few peers and get rapid feedback from the instructor.

This is personalized learning looks like to a certain extent.  The key here is to work at your own pace.  Now when you read the story it has a bit of a negative spin I think towards the end.  Honestly, I would have to know more about it to completely embrace it.

Technology will make things like this more possible in the future.  What if by the type of work you submit, that determines who your teacher will be?  Imagine a pool of hundreds of teachers from around the world that you can connect with.  The magic of the internet allows people to connect with anyone, anytime, anyplace.

As I have said before, how can anyone say that education that is restricted to a single school is the best we can do now.

This type of things will happen more and more, faster and faster.  Right now it’s quietly happening.  Before you know it, it will be more widespread.  That is disruptive innovation.

  • Interesting story on taking individual learning to extremes.

    tags: education online learning selfpaced nell

    • Ford T. Smith is helping to bulldoze one of the most durable pillars of academic life: the semester.

       

    • An adjunct faculty member at Kentucky’s Jefferson Community & Technical College, Mr. Smith teaches in an online program that lets students start class any day they want and finish at their own speed. One student, desperate to graduate, knocked off 113 quizzes and six writing assignments for a humanities course in 46 sleepless hours.

       

    • But there is a downside to this convenience

       

    • The open format of Jefferson’s program, called Learn Anytime, means students don’t move through classes in groups. None of Mr. Smith’s 400 online students will have a discussion or do a group project with classmates.

       

    • Supporters see the self-paced model as a means to serve more students, since no one is turned away because of a full section, missed deadline, or canceled class. Others criticize go-it-alone learning as a second-rate system that leaves students in greater danger of dropping out.

       

    • the model is spreading. Its former champion within Jefferson’s administration, Robert Johnson, plans to make open-entry courses the default for a new online program he leads at the Louisiana Community & Technical College system.

       

    • At Arizona’s Rio Salado College, home to one of America’s largest online programs, self-paced classes start every Monday. Others that teach this way include StraighterLine, a company that provides online courses, and Athabasca University, a distance-education institution in Canada.

       

    • Professors who offer them sacrifice normal vacations; Mr. Johnson has taught a theater-appreciation course continuously for more than 1,000 days.

       

    • But the format also offers opportunity to entrepreneurial professors willing to log extreme hours.

       

    • Ford Smith teaches three classes at Jefferson: English 101 and 102 and Introduction to Humanities. With no due dates and students popping in daily, that feels more like coordinating 400 independent studies.

       

    • Obsession pays. Learn Anytime professors aren’t compensated per class. They’re compensated per student—$65 a head. By taking advantage of that system and adding other teaching gigs, Mr. Smith earns an annual paycheck that tenured professors might envy: $120,000.

       

    • Mr. Johnson’s classroom isn’t just virtual. It’s also largely automated. After he logs in on his laptop, a counter pops up to show students the number of days remaining for them to complete the class (120 is now the maximum, down from 150). Quizzes are self-grading. Completion of one task triggers the next. Submission of an assignment sends an alert to Mr. Johnson’s iPhone. The course software e-mails students “personalized” advice, programmed by Mr. Johnson, throughout the class. “Dear Tom,” it might say. “Let me give you some tips about how to do the next lesson.”

       

    • If you’re thinking this feels like a misguided way to teach, that’s nothing new to Mr. Johnson. How, some professors ask, can you teach without discussion? Without a cohort?

       

    • His view is that not much learning takes place among students in an online course. They often just don’t read the forum conversation, he says. Sure, they might add their own comments to a discussion board, he says, “but they don’t really benefit from what others are saying.”

       

    • They do benefit from the feedback he gives in self-paced courses, Mr. Johnson says, because instead of slogging through 25 homework assignments at once, he focuses on each student’s work as it trickles in. He is fanatic about not making them wait.

       

    • But can you have both interaction and independent study? The answer may be yes, through social networking.

       

    • If there are enough students, those at the same point in a course can study together on a Facebook-like system, says Terry Anderson, an Athabasca professor who does research about distance education.

       

    • It’s happening. Athabasca University is experimenting with a platform called Elgg. Rio Salado students connect in an online student union. OpenStudy offers another platform.

       

    • “The next frontier in online learning,” says Mr. Anderson, “is to merge the social stuff with the self-paced stuff.”

       

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Responses

  1. This model intrigues me. The only problem is that it assumes that the learner is self motivated…that isn’t always the case. Could it work for every learner? I’m not sure.

    • I think that children can easily be self motivated at a young age. It’s school that tends to smash that out of them. We all want to learn when we are interested in something right? It’s forcing people to learn what they don’t want and they don’t see as useful that is hurting things.


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