The 18-year-old college freshman is an endangered species.
Today, three in four undergrads are considered “non-traditional” students. They may work while taking classes. They may have started families or served in the military. Or, as is often the case at my institution, the University of Utah, they may have done missionary work for as long as two years after high school.
The on-campus model doesn’t work for this growing group of students. They can’t raise families in dorms. And morning classes aren’t compatible with full-time jobs.
Some new entrants to the college marketplace believe they can deliver an education entirely online. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
The hype around the free online courses called MOOCs has drawn millions of students, who are all essentially part of a teaching experiment of unprecedented scale. These days, researchers are increasingly checking in on that experiment.
A new report, released on Thursday, seeks to answer the question “Where is research on massive open online courses headed?”
Father Guido Sarducci – the character played by comedian Don Novello on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s – got some of his biggest laughs with a plan for a Five Minute University. Five years after they leave college, Sarducci noted, most graduates can only remember about five minutes’ worth of all the facts they crammed into their crania to pass exams, so why not cut to the chase? [RR – see the hilarious clip at: [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO8x8eoU3L4]. This riff on higher education still makes Steven Yalisove chuckle, but he knows it contains a measure of truth. A professor of materials science engineering at the University of Michigan, Yalisove, 59, is out to change classroom teaching. He has designed a regimen to help students learn, comprehend, and retain functional knowledge, instead of memorizing quickly forgotten facts. He has mostly eliminated lectures, relying on peer instruction and allowing students to learn from failures, and has all but ditched traditional exams. “Exams are a terrible way to see if someone has learned anything,” he sniffs.
Imagine you’re in a meeting, seated around a table with eight other people. You want to share a URL with them, but it’s several levels down in the hierarachy of the particular website. What do you do?
If you’re all already connected online via a shared document or text messaging, then you could just drop the URL into a message for them to click on.
But what if you’re not all connected, or you don’t know the names and email addresses of all the people you want to share the URL with? ShoutKey is a great temporary URL shortener designed for exactly this kind of situation.
Three years ago we had two classrooms in our library. They looked like this:
These were suitable for training-based instruction but our program has evolved. Librarians wanted to be able to reach more students (larger class sizes) as well as utilize many different teaching methods. We’re upgrading both rooms this summer.
In free online courses offered by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teachers are increasingly the students. A study by the two universities has found that teachers are enrolling in their MOOCs in high numbers.
The study examines data from some one million MOOC students who enrolled in courses at edX, the nonprofit learning platform started by Harvard and MIT. Some one-fifth of participants answered a survey about their background in teaching, and 39 percent of them said they were current or former teachers.
In MIT’s Education Arcade, classic game consoles line the office corridor, rafters are strung with holiday lights, and inflatable, stuffed and papier-maché creatures lurk around every corner. When I stopped by recently, the Arcade’s director, Eric Klopfer, and creative director, Scot Osterweil, talked enthusiastically about the surging interest in educational video games, now used by nearly three quarters of America’s grade-school teachers, according to one survey.
But these optimistic, play-loving game gurus have come to despise the biggest buzzword in their field: gamification. According to Osterweil and Klopfer, both MIT professors, gamification too often means “making a game out of learning,” in which players win points, magical powers or some other reward for practicing math, spelling or another school subject. Klopfer and Osterweil argue that the best educational games capture what’s already fun about learning and make that central to the game. Gamification undermines what they see as the real opportunity for games to radically, albeit playfully, transform education.
The participants of #NumericalMOOC will have noticed that we made only one video for the course. I thought that maybe I would do a handful more. But in the end I didn’t and I don’t think it matters too much.
Why didn’t we have more video? The short answer is budget and time: making good-quality videos is expensive & making simple yet effective educational videos is time consuming, if not necessarily costly. #NumericalMOOC was created on-the-fly, with little budget. But here’s my point: expensive, high-production-value videos are not necessary to achieve a quality learning experience.
The fixation with videos in MOOCs, online courses and blended learning is worrisome. At the edX Global Forum (November 2014), it was often mentioned that producing a MOOC is a high-cost operation, with an estimated average expense of $100,000 per course. This is probably a somewhat overindulgent price for appearance, rather than substance. There is no evidence justifying the “production value” from a learning perspective. In fact, as far back as 1971, Donald Bligh concluded that “there is not much difference in the effectiveness of methods to present information.”  In this sense, a video—however nicely produced—is not better than a lecture.
Dr. Nathan Jenkins (KINS)
Friday, March 20, 2015
10am 631 Aderhold
“A Flipped Class Experiment (n = 1): Trial Run in an Exercise Science Course”
The ‘flipped classroom’ approach involves moving content delivery outside of the classroom, and using in-class time to focus on the information processing part of learning (synthesis of ideas, problem-solving, etc.). The method has been used for many years in some disciplines, particularly in the humanities. This presentation will provide a personal account of its implementation in an exercise science course, including summaries of what has and has not worked, and some strategies for the future.
Austin, Tex. — Student privacy, easier-to-use digital tools for instructors, and efforts to offer alternative credentials were some of the most-talked-about topics this week at the South by Southwest Edu conference, an offshoot of the popular South by Southwest music festival.
The event brings together a mix of participants from different parts of education — teachers, administrators, and publishers in elementary, secondary, and higher education. This year The Chronicle hosted a “special program” on “Understanding the New Landscape of Higher Ed,” about which we’ll share more details in the coming weeks.
As we look through our notebooks of other sessions at the event, here are some highlights: