MOOCs

The 2013 Horizon Report is in and the future holds…

Posted on February 5, 2013. Filed under: Higher Education, MOOCs, Teaching with Technology |

So many new and upcoming technologies:

Time to Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

  1. Flipped Classroom
  2. MOOCs
  3. Mobile Apps
  4. Tablet Computing

Time to Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

  1. Augmented Reality
  2. Game-Based Learning
  3. The Internet of Things
  4. Learning Analytics

Time to Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

  1. 3D Printing
  2. Flexible Displays
  3. Next Generation Batteries
  4. Wearable Gadgets

According to the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition, these technologies will have the potential to improve student success rates, make mobile learning a reality, break down educational barriers, enable new approaches to teaching and learning, and allow us to interact in new ways with the world around us.

While MOOCs and Tablet Computing are the technologies that will impact higher education in the near-term, gamification and learning analytics are technologies whose impact is expected to intensify over the next 2-3 years. When I attended the NJEDge Annual Conference in November 2012, presentations on gamification (or game-based learning) and learning analytics were prominently featured

At NJEDge, Ellen Wagner, the Executive Director of the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, introduced to the “new normal” of learning analytics: using big data to provide a clearer picture of individual students’ educations and to help improve teaching and learning. (Think Neflix and Amazon: “Students who did well in that class, often followed up with this class… or this major”; “Students like you do well at [   ] type of college..”; etc.). Wagner made the case for analytics in learning by mining the digital breadcrumbs learners leave behind about their engagement (on the LMS, Facebook, blogs, tweets, etc.). WCET is working on the Predictive Analytics Reporting Framework (PAR); members are gathering huge data sets (3.1 million course records as of fall 2012) and turning that data into information that can help students. This is definitely a project to keep our eyes on!

Also at NJEDge, Bill Bixler, the founder of the Educational Gaming Commons (gaming.psu.edu) presented on gamification – that is, the use of game-like elements in non-game contexts to increase engagement or change behavior.  What are game-like elements, you might be asking. Bixler described more than 25 game-like elements that faculty can use in classes including Achievements, Badges, Cascading Information Theory, Levels (to motivate gamers), Points, Progression and Status. An example of gamification would be if students moved up levels instead of getting grades (it sounds weird, but think of it this way: that system rewards achievement without punishing students who don’t work). If you do this right, Bixler says that students get “flow,” the ultimate motivational state that is achieved by balancing the learner’s current ability with the difficulty of the current challenge.

On the more distant horizon, the report identified 3D printing and wearable technologies (e.g., Bluetooth necklaces, clip-on cameras, augmented reality devices) as important developments who significance will be felt in 3-5 years.

The report also identified 6 challenges facing education in the coming years:

  1. Lack of technology training (or “digital literacy”) for faculty members.
  2. New forms of scholarship (such as conducting or posting research via social media) are outpacing the ability of many faculty members to assess their value adequately.
  3. Current processes (such as tenure and promotion reviews) do not value technological sophistication and therefore do not necessarily motivate faculty to move beyond the status quo.
  4. Current technology and practices do not adequately support individualized learning.
  5. Traditional models of higher education are being challenged by new forms of education (e.g., MOOCs) – and these new forms need to be evaluated to determine how to best support collaboration, interaction, and assessment.
  6. Most academics are not using new technologies for learning an teaching.

The New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition goes beyond just naming technologies: it offers examples of how they are being used, which serves to demonstrate their potential. And check out the summary at Campus Technology.

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Disruption in Higher Education: MOOCs

Posted on February 2, 2013. Filed under: Community Colleges, Higher Education, MOOCs |

Why is everyone talking about MOOCs? Well, mostly because we know what they are (Massive Open Online Courses), we can see why they are cool (making college-level teaching available to anyone who has internet access, anywhere, anytime, and for free), and we know they will disrupt higher ed as we know it today – but we don’t yet know exactly how. (I wrote teaching instead of learning or education because the missing part of [many] MOOCs is the assessment of learning – but that, too, is changing).  So we need to stay on top of this story so our sector (community colleges) can be part of the transformation instead of watching it go by us.

To better understand the potential of MOOCs, I signed up for Udacity’s Introduction to Statistics course (taught by Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity). I haven’t finished the course yet but I learned about the platform, saw how students can get engaged and participate as active learners, and I liked it! At one point, I looked up from having worked on the graphing and probability sections and more than an hour had passed without my knowing it (much the way my sons can play video games for hours with no sense of the passage of time or the need for food or sleep).  If our students can learn the same student learning outcomes from a MOOC as an MCCC course, then they should be able to show that (e.g., take and pass MCCC’s final exam) and receive credit. And that could change everything…

To see what people whose insights are way more important than mine think of MOOCs today, check out the  Harvard Business Review blog: Eight Brilliant Minds on the Future of Online Education (the 8 include Larry Summers, former president of Harvard; Bill Gates; Rafael Reif, president of MIT; Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity; and Daphne Koller, CEO of Coursera.) The conversation was part of a panel at Davos moderated by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. Audience member Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, commented

“The overall quantity and quality of formal education hasn’t changed whereas the informal education has skyrocketed in the last 30 years. People used to go to library and now go to Wikipedia. We haven’t really begun to understand the impact on that.”

If you would like to try a MOOC for yourself, check out what is available at Coursera (courses taught by faculty from Cal Tech, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania and others), EdX (for courses taught by faculty from Harvard, MIT, Berkley, and others) or Udacity.  New courses are added all the time.

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