Friday, 18 October 2013

Future of Technology in Education 2013

There were quite a few topics brought up throughout the very rammed day but I want to focus on two key themes which seemed to weave throughout the day.
  • Bits round the edge need to be 'Easy'
  • MOOCs and engagement.
Nicola Millard from BT spoke about crowds clouds and consumers with an agenda of how students should be treated like consumers, and like any other business, they are the key to our survival. She mentioned that feedback from customers about what they are looking for, 'ease of use' came out on top. This needs to be applied to our student base as well. We can't let over-complex ambiguous and convoluted terms/tech/processes overshadow the real core of what they are here for; learning. 

Essentially letting the cognitive strain be taken up by information in the lecture space and not by how to print, failing IT infrastructures etc. Connectivity is a big part of this picture as well, being able to gather, collate and interact with content across all available channels.

MOOCs have exploded on the education scene, however lots of discourse around low retention and completion rates have steered some people to look at other methods of engagement. One which arose from the day was having a small test or joining task, whether it's a small journal piece about why you want to join the course, or a ten question test. The aim being to filter out the 'I might do something when the time comes' people who auto-enrol on any interesting free online course that comes along.

There was also a renewed expectation that for MOOCs to work they have to be targeted at post-grad learners, people who have already demonstrated motivation, commitment and resourcefulness towards learning.

Online learning in general, as very cleverly demonstrated by Lindsay Jordan by comparing learning a stacking cup song vs learning a piano piece, is fantastic for those quick 'learn in ten mins' methodologies. However mastering a complex topic (eg piano) in a MOOC, which are usually void of any real-person contact, can be hard if not guided. 

MOOCs are viewed as currently offering too much flexibility for those students to 'put it off' unless dedicated enough. So there needs to be some sort of equilibrium between learners having the connectivity and engagement they require but also some rigidity in learning design.

Another MOOC point Lindsay pointed out was that distance learners feel isolated and thus need more encouragement and reassurance to continue.

If our institution was to move towards introducing MOOCs, I think their entry point into the institutions domain needs to be carefully looked at raising the following questions:
  1. Who and at what level are we aiming these courses at?
  2. How can we cull the field of disengaged students to provide more guided support?
  3. How can we ensure all channels of support/content are easy to use?

No comments:

Post a Comment