Here is my answer to the question I came across on Quora earlier today. Is the future of online education synchronous (live classes at scheduled times), asynchronous (learn on your own schedule at your own pace), or somewhere in between? qr.ae/tcHi2
It is my opinion that students will choose based on their expectation of learning. Do they want to learn in a community with other learners? Or do they want to learn, self-paced? While I hate it, in some ways I am leading toward a more JIT model as where we are headed.
We order fast food all the time, it is cheap, easy to order, and we can eat it in our car. The same is true for an asynchronous open course that we can access on our phones! Is there still a need to sit down with friends and tip a waiter at a restaurant? Do we need synchronous course any more?
I have come across some research lately that discusses how thousands of people a week are accessing MOOCs that are already completed (see Does it matter if you are late to class in a MOOC? Thousands a week still register for MOOCs even after they are completed…). So then we might think:
- Do they really need to be offered live?
- Does the live instructor support increase learning?
- Does the community cohort of students learning together actually help students—that did come to class—succeed?
- Is there more to attending class to the end in a live MOOC than a statement of accomplishment?
The obvious answer from my perspective would be yes, but then why are thousands enrolling to learn after the class is over?
Don’t get me wrong. There is great value in learning with a group of students and with an instructor. These connections are key and in my opinion a richer form of learning. But is that what the currently culture wants?