Monthly Archives: January 2014

Face-to-Face and Online Learning. Which skills can be taught where?

In an article from the site, guest author Tony Bates shares some thoughts on hybrid learning. Bates begins by explaining that although MOOCs get much of the hype in e-learning, it is hybrid learning that tends to get the most development in Canada. The article explores some different models of hybrid learning that explore different mixes of online and face-to-face learning. By exploring these models in their different mixes we can see that the combination of face-to-face and online differs according to the needs of the course. Tony emphasizes the need to work from outcomes to determine which skills can be completed online and which can be completed in a face-to-face environment. He also notes that in many cases, instructors often underestimate which skills can be completed online and do not require on campus face-to-face meetings.

Read through the full article here:

After reading the article think about your course. Are there areas of your course that could be better served online? Are there aspects of your course that you can determine would not be successful if not in a face-to-face environment?

Can MOOC’s Be Effective as a Multicultural Classroom?

MOOC’s have risen as a new and exciting paradigm of online education. The idea behind MOOC’s is to offer education to more people around the world at a reduced price. In fact the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the majority of professors who wished to teach or be involved in a MOOC did so for altruistic reasons. They see creating courses that can be offered around the world as a good thing that would benefit the global population. And why not see it that way?

However in a guest post by Ghanasshyam Sharma for the Chronicle, we are reminded about the cultural challenges that students of MOOC’s may face. Sharma uses a personal story to explain that wanting to educate on a global basis may be a “delusion”, and that many cultural, social, and economic factors need to be researched before MOOC’s can attempt to make education more global.

The full article from The Chronicle of Higher Education can be found here:

Experimental Online Program is Strategically Aligned with the Right Partners

An experimental online program is available for students at Southern Hampshire University. The university is experimenting with a “competencies” based model that sees students showing their mastery of certain competencies before moving on to the next challenge or competency. The example given in the article by Marc Parry from The Chronicle has a student proving they can use “logic, reasoning and analysis to address a business problem.”

Although this is an innovative step in education reform, assessing student competencies is something that currently occurs in the typical “seat hour” degree completion. Students must prove their competency via projects, exams, essays, or presentations and more. The real power of this model lies in the fact that “seat hours” are not the determining factor. This model could truly allow students to become competent with a skill or skill set in an amount of time that is suitable to the student’s learning ability and life situation. It truly makes learning a skill about the learning and not about the time to complete.

In the article Parry refers to an anomaly that has US state law makers, the white house, and even some private foundations, with a common goal to graduate more students, to do so in more timely manner, and to keep the costs for students lower. The alignment of goals has made funding projects(like the one at Southern Hampshire University) a possibility as the needs for education reform at the political level seem to be bending to accommodate these experiments. In the case of Southern Hampshire University not only was funding needed to get the courses built and optimized for a competency based model, but the ability to award funding to students for non-credit hour courses was also granted. So although funding is a key issue in helping these experimental programs get off the ground, it seems that funding agents need to align goals and strategies with those in the political game to tear down other barriers to education; in this case financial concerns.

This alignment seems to be a good thing for education reform, and education funding, but what about the ideas that are not aligned? Are these ideas ruled out? They are not nessecarily ruled out, but the ones with funding, and that are aligned with political education reforms may get more of the spotlight, causing other reforms or projects to be overshadowed.

What do you think about a competency based program of studies? Are there areas on campus that you could see competency base programs succeed?

Check out the full article by Marc Parry below:

Technology Based Educational Productivity. The Need for a Theory.

In an article last year from his blog, Tony Bates talks about productivity in education. Bates explains that productivity in industry does not always align with the definition of productivity in education.

As an example Bates refers to a definition of productivity growth from the Industry Canada website. The definition on this site focuses on two factors: becoming more capital intensive and using technology to become more productive. If that example is transferred to the business of higher education, you can see how it breaks down. Although educational technology can enhance a good quality education, the use of educational technology alone does not in itself make higher education more productive.

Bates goes on to explain in his blog post Technology, teaching and productivity: the need for a theory, that in order for productivity to increase in higher education we need to stop focusing on costs alone, and look at teaching methods and learning outcomes in conjunction with costs.

Check out the full article here to see the ideas that Tony brainstorms for a theory regarding productivity: