The importance of open online education
Posted October 18, 2012on:
We have a first world problem of having access to university education and then a choice of where to get it. Other people in the world are not as fortunate.
Daphne Koller tells a story of a stampede for university places in a South African university that left one woman dead. She also told of how the cost of a tertiary education is increasingly getting out of reach.
Other than providing opportunity and access, courses hosted by these systems might offer flexible e-learning (learning at one’s own pace and place), active practice, and immediate feedback.
More importantly, some of these online courses also break away from “one-hour monolithic lectures” and provide more powerful bite-sized and personalized learning.
What I found illuminating were the technological options in grading more complex assessments. It is now relatively easy to have computers evaluate short answers and even non-verbal answers.
Just as interesting was the research presented on how such courses could rely on peer and self-grading. The study that was cited showed how peer and self-grading was closely correlated to teacher grading.
Having participants from all over the world in different time zones also was a boon for feedback. In one example, the estimated median response time for courses was 22 minutes. Some face-to-face sessions do not even offer that quick a response time!
I also enjoyed the quote that Koller attributed to Mark Twain:
College is a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either.
She argued that the issue was the tried and tired old lecture format. The alternative might be more active learning experiences, some of which were offered by redesigns led by online courses.