MOOCs won’t make education much cheaper. It will make education much better!

setapartOn another episode of on e-Literate TV, we have the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the H-STAR institute—Keith Devlin from Stanford University being interviewed by Michael Feldstein. He is one of the early MOOC adopters from Stanford teaching on Coursera LMS. This interview occurred at the 2013 MOOC Research Initiative Conference back in December. If you are interested in the issues related to the use of technology in support of education, e.g., MOOCs, online learning, etc. be sure you check out this out and join the conversation.

I loved how Keith said that his initial urge to create and teach a MOOC was because he had this “evangelical urge” to teach mathematics to a broader and general community. He also shared a little bit of his personal background of finding his passion for mathematics… and wasn’t from traditional schooling. He found his passion from the “popularizers” of the 1950’s who were writing innovative and creative texts about science and math. He hopes that he is now of these “popularizers” of the current day. He then goes on to say:

“I don’t care if the success rate is 1 out of 100. Give me a chance to reach that 1 out of 100 and I will go for it. That’s how you can change lives. And if you can change enough lives, you can change society… These [MOOCs] are going to change society. They will change the higher academic landscape. But quite how they will change it?”

He then reminds us that history has shown us over the years that often things that we expect to have an effect on something… won’t. Although it will usually have an effect something else. This he believes is the case for MOOCs.

He also addressed the reluctance that often faculty have toward MOOCs. Faculty should lead in this change. We are being paid to think about the future and how to innovate in it.

Ok. Just one more quote. I promise:

“We preserve the past. We curate the present. And we think about the future… When I look at education I look at something that is fundamentally not scalable. So the issue is efficiency. So what parts are scalable? What things can you take away that can be done in a MOOC? This would free up the time of the experts. Education is about what people do when they get together… Real learning takes place when two eyes meet, there is an interaction, and real learning happens… MOOCs offer huge potential in their present form to produce greater efficiencies.”

These greater efficiencies will free up class time for more connections between students and other students, students and the instructor, and students and the content. The content doesn’t have to be lecture. If the lecture is anything other than an instructor standing behind a podium, then that is a foot forward. But we know that a faculty that is innovative enough to have a MOOC probably has some real “authentic learning” going on, e.g., problem/project based with students in groups?

Keith then ends by saying that MOOCs are just a way to not make education much cheaper, but education much better!


About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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