Sunday, October 28, 2012

Last Post

I'm bailing on #CFHE12.  This is my 4th MOOC.  It is not what I had hoped for.  I really did give it a shot, but the content just wasn't there for me.  The discussion seems to be about learning and teaching styles of 2012, just done online.  Far from revolutionary.

To end on a positive note.  A colleague sent me the  "The 'Cost Disease' in Higher Education: Is Technology the Answer?"
"The 'Cost Disease' in Higher Education: Is Technology the Answer?" examines key aspects of economics in higher education—such as cost trends, affordability issues, and productivity—and the potential impact online learning could have on them.  Written by William G. Bowen, founding chairman of ITHAKA and board member, this two-part lecture was first presented through the Tanner Lecture Series  in October 2012

Here is my analysis of Lecture #2

This is a great article from a clearly well honed mind.

The only point I would push back on is the idea we should build a tool-kit.  It is 2012, the tsunami bells are tolling.  We should respond, but not panic. We don't know when or where the coming tsunami will hit higher education.  But we do know that it has the potential to create drastic changes.  If we start building an industry standard tool-kit in 2012 we may be first to market but we may not be right-to-market.   Rather, now is the time for us to marshal our resources while keeping all eyes and options open.  We have to respond quickly and aggressively when the strategy becomes clearer.  But right now the bells and hands are ringing.  Now is the time for dialog, debate, education and alignment.  We (the greater higher education community) should start building tool-kits once we have more clarity.

If we build a toolkit in 2012 we build based on the 2012 version of reality.  In 2012;
  • Computers are not adaptive (Siri is not smart enough to tutor)
  • Faculty still "own" their lectures
  • Publishers "own" content
  • Accredited Universities are still the only way to get a credential needed for most mainstream employment. (Employers still require a diploma from an employees early 20's over a badge from this year.)
  • The practice of "active learning" is still emerging and hasn't overtaken rock-on-rock lectures.

If we respond as a higher education community, or even an institution, and build a toolkit in 2012 it will look at lot like what we know in 2012.  I fear it will be like the a video based lecture from the eighteenth century.  I'm not suggesting we shouldn't prepare and explore e-learning.  Far from it.  I think it should be our institutions #1 priority.  However I do think that in 2012 we are still at the point of letting 1,000 flowers bloom and are not ready to respond with industry or institutional force.

What should we do in 2012:
  • Encourage faculty to learn about technology (the average understanding of how to use electronic tools is horrific)
  • Encourage faculty to explore "flipping" the classroom
  • Align the institutional resources around 2012 style pedagogy (where are all the video producers, programmers that can build adaptive learning systems, programmers that can help with e-tutoring, people who understand the content and copyright law of 2012) and make these experts seamlessly available to faculty as they explore the 1,000 flowers of 2012.

In 2012 we must keep our eyes on our flowers.  Once it is clear where the tsunami will hit and how we should respond we must be ready to pick one, kill the rest and respond with full institutional force.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 2: Pedagogy notes

I have just finished reading  The Blended Learning Toolkit: Improving Student Performance and Retention which starts out with some stats about online, Face-2-Face and blended.  It does a good job of highlighting some work at University of Central Florida about a blended toolkit.  But sadly this is still talking about the same learning methods we have been using for 500 years (teach to test) but just doing some of it asynchronously via a computer.  When will the conversation stop being about evolving a 13th century lecture-based pedagogy and start discussing revolutionary pedagogy that can only be enabled by the changes we have experienced in the information age?

I also attended the #CFHE12 lecture by Dr. Joel L. Hartman, Vice Provost & CIO at University of Central Florida.  Faculty development is required.    He had data that showed having a blended learning was desired by students over face-to-face or purely online. At the start of his lecture did talk about active learning (activist model rather than constructiveness model) but I didn't hear much else about it beyond the brief 10 second plug.

Before I go off on a further rant about "revolutionary pedagogy" I wanted to highlight some preliminary work by JD Walker and others at UMN about views of online course delivery (Summary:  If faculty have never experienced an online course they strongly favor face-to-face courses).  Based on this I see great value in having faculty engaged in the #CFHE12 MOOC (so we can decrease the fear of computer assisted learning).  But I feel we need to advance this conversation faster and further.



I feel let down by the readings and lectures this week.  I haven't learned as much as I expected this week.  When I saw the topic for #CFHE12 week 2 was Pedagogy I expected we were going to be talking about new and excited changes to the learning environment.   It turns out the focus of #CFHE12 was about moving the lecture online. 

Off the top of my head here is a list of topics I do not know enough about that I would have loved to explore this week as part of #CFHE12: 
·                     Active Learning Classrooms and Flipped Classrooms- use class time to solve problems and use dorm room time to watch lectures.
·                     Adaptive Tutoring - use computers to provide tutoring (via people or AI) about skills
·                     Adaptive Learning - have courses that adapt based on what the student doesn't know
·                     Learning Modules rather than Courses - fine grain learning and assessment
·                     Lifetime Learning - Move past the BS/MS degree and into lifetime learning alternative credentials



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lecture notes of 5 disruptive forces in higher education lecture

The following are lecture notes from a lecture by Jeff Selingo

He started out by talking about 1999-2009.   He called it "decade of more".  Over the last decade colleges have increased tuition & program offering.  With the huge increase in attendance their was little desire to keep tuition down.  Institutions took on institutional debt (US Colleges/Universities have $307B in debt).  Students were willing to go to any college and pay for any degree.

He identified 5 disruptive forces

Thoughts on completion rates.    His thesis is since most states are bellow average the national level support is poor.
He also thinks brand loyalty is going to decline because people are swirling around more than before to bundle together their degree on their terms.

States are divesting.

New "free" teaching styles are coming online.  At the same time the student pocket book is being pinched:

57% of public says higher education system is doing fair/poor value for the money spent
76% of college presidents say higher e education system is doing excellent/good value for money spent

Public wants to know the value.  They no longer want / believe subjective "get an education and have a better life".  They want data.

Strategy - The public wants to know:

1)  Will I learn:
   Reviewed the book "Academically Adrift" by Arum and Roksa.  Found rigor of course of study (reading and writing) is a key to retention and value.  Found questionable value in  the legacy learning styles (low retention of knowledge).

2)  Will I get a job:

3)  What Universities are worth it (Virginia, Tennessee, others are doing this based on legislative mandate, expect other states to pick this up in the next 2-3 years) :

4) What Programs at the are worth it:

"The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writing and the reader." - Amazon
"The only really necessary people in the education process now are the professor and the student." - Now

Most at risk in coming disruption:  
    Commodity courses
    The bundled one-size-fits-all experience
    The credential.

The least at risk in coming disruption:  
   Maturing students, 
   Student Professor relationship.

My thoughts on MOOCs

As the conversation around Massively Open Online Courses, commonly called MOOCs,  moves from hype to reality, it appears that substantial changes in higher education are imminent. The online teaching of knowledge in an asynchronous way is no longer an impossibility, and indeed several highly publicized metastudies have established that learning outcomes in well-designed environments can be at least as significant as traditional face-to-face learning.  What is distinctive about MOOCs is (1) the significant investment of prominent institutions including Stanford, MIT, and Harvard; (2) the capacity of these environments to support student cohorts that are massive in number; and (3) the fact that currently, at least, these courses are freely and openly available to the world.   

In the wake of recent news regarding low cost certification and credit options associated with MOOCs, it is clear that faculty individually need to reconsider how they utilize their time with students, and institutions needs to consider the value proposition of a residential campus experience.  The concept of the flipped classroom has been in play for some time, but MOOCs create an imperative to reconsider the value of gathering students in a space, and the role faculty play in those moments.  The ability for students to access free, high quality content, including lectures and self-assessments, outside of the classroom call for instructors to move beyond information delivery and utilize classroom time to engage students in critical discussions surrounding the knowledge available online.  Classrooms should be designed to provide an active learning environment in which students can engage and refine the critical thinking skills that will allow them to achieve very high order outcomes that will distinguish them as exceptional.  Institutions will be able to rely on knowledge which is disseminated asynchronously online and should direct investment and activity toward cultivating intelligence in residence through multi-disciplinary authentic learning experiences.

Central to the successful utilization of this new style of teaching and learning is a shift in the way educators view their role. The traditional role of a lecturer delivering information to a group of passively listening students will be left to the educators recording the lectures. The educator who will be successful in engaging the students in this new form of in-classroom learning will encourage and lead conversation;  coach and guide students, rather than leading them;  and be willing to be a facilitator and participant, rather than the center of focus in the classroom.

As we restructure the way in which we disseminate information, we must ensure that we are preparing students for the realities of the job market today. Employers no longer need people who simply regurgitate data. Information recall no longer marks a successful graduate, search engines keep that information readily accessible. Employers now need people who think critically and solve problems. People who are not reliant on a static knowledge base to perform a predefined job. Graduates must be able to assimilate vast amounts of knowledge, and apply that knowledge in a way that will allow them to to work on jobs that they were never trained to work on.  

Institutions that adopt this interactive approach will be producing the graduates that employers want to employ. However, our current accreditation process does not provide for distinguishing the students with this type of education. The institutions that establish an accreditation process that makes this distinction will be the institutions which benefit from this change.  Employers will be drawn to graduates who they can easily identify as possessing this type of intelligence, which will drive students to seek their degrees from institutions that can provide this distinction.  

MOOCs pressure higher ed in significant ways.  The extraordinarily rapid development of low-cost proctored exams and credit acceptance calls for institutional response.  Students who demonstrate knowledge competency--no matter where they picked up the knowledge--will receive credit for it.  Students will have access to individualized learning paths and differential tuition options.  How will we respond?  

IT needs to prepare to enable and support authentic learning (implications for classroom design and technologies, as well as technologies that support collaborative research), rapid assessment, individualized learning paths, differential tuition, credit flow between institutions, etc. (implications for student and financial administrative systems), and invest in solutions that leap-frog MOOC-enabled learning and credentialing, technologies that support a learning paradigm that puts students in well-constructed teams, with access to experts as needed, to solve real problems in our communities and our culture that advance their development in ways that depend upon the free and open access to content that MOOCs provide.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

History of Higher Education

While it is not part of the formal learning/reading for the MOOC I did find the following article very helpful.  It helps me to think about the future by understanding the changes of the past.  We have to think about how to do this over decades.  We have changed in the past.  We can change again.

Thoughts on Article on Internet vs. College

So the globalization themed articles (Africa and India) didn't do much for me.  But the article on “Why the internet isn’t going to end college as we know it” set me on a tail spin.  Clearly this article was written by somebody who works inside the record store and thinks about how to sell records.  It is clear to me that this person doesn't see the value/disruption that MP3’s will have on the record industry we call higher education.

Why do I say this, a quote from the article is “New innovations don't disrupt old industries by merely competing with them. They do it by cutting into their source of revenue. 

If you look at the industry through the eyes of “how do we do what we currently do, just better with technology” the author is correct that the emerging trends in higher education are not a big threat.  But instead if you look at it through outsiders eyes and ask “what does the nation need from an educated work force and what is the most cost effective way to provide that service” you can’t be left but feeling we are headed for a large disruption.

My personal opinion about “what does the nation need from an educated work force”:
  •  Life time learners
  • People who know how to practice the profession the they are in

What do we need less of that we are doing well at now:
  • Point-in-time credentialing
  • Testing to knowledge
  •  Teaching to knowledge

What do I agree about in that article?  I agree “CAMPUSES COUNT”  I know my experiences as a student on a campus helped me: learn to think, learned to study, learned to be an adult and learned what I wanted to be when I grew up (but 20 years later; I am still trying to figure that out)…  My personal vision of the future is cloudy, but I see us needing campuses because it will be the best way to help people learn how to practice the profession they are going into. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thoughts on Article #1 (Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking and Academic Revolution)

The globalization and emerging crisis talk identified in the “Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking and Academic Revolution” article didn't stress me out.  Yawn.  However the “massification” talk pulled a thread I haven’t had time to finish exploring today. 

My core values says the “massification” of higher education is the right thing to do.  I agree with the Land Grant mission in my core values.   However the pragmatist in me started struggling with this idea today.  Struggling at my core.  Is the massification of education driven on a solid economic model or by values of human equality?

I have two kids we home-school.  Why do we home-school?  Because people learn at different paces and I want my kids to learn at their own individual pace.  I don’t want them sped up or slowed down to learn at the pace of 30 other kids in their class.  Our son is 11 years old and tests at the scientific knowledge level of a freshman in college.  He has the athletic capabilities of a person younger than he is.  Why?  Because he is a unique individual that learns at his own pace.

If we continue to use legacy teaching techniques and to teach to the masses, not the individual,  I fear we will not be our best society.  Our tax payer supported state Universities educate the masses.  Yes, we have awesome students and faculty and they get better every year, but our nations State Universities are not snobby institutions (like my living room during home-school time) where each person gets a customized education.   

So – what does this have to do with MOOCs?  I’m hoping as we explore these thoughts further we will uncover that the technology and changes in higher education allow people to learn at their own pace and we can continue the trend of the land grant institution of massifying education.   I fear that if we don’t start to customize the education process to the skills of the individual learner that we are missing out on a lot of opportunities for each student to excel in individual areas.