Thursday, April 04, 2013

International Perspective: The MOOC and Campus-Based Learning

Summary of a presentation by Phillip D. Long, University of Queensland

Role of the University:

- Drew Faust, Harvard: it’s not really about what’s happening term by term or even graduatiomn, but it’s about the experience with us that shapes their life long learning and which transfers a culture one generation to the next.

- By contrast, the view of the role of the university as a function of the economic system, to drive economic wealth. Eg. Australia’s Chief Scientist Robin Batterham.

The impact of technology is one of diasaggregation.

Technology is splitting off, for example, assessment into different modes of doing it. And then learning is split into doing it online, on campus, in a MOOC, all in the background for many of leveraging personal learning environments.

Our campus at UQ is like yours I suspect. The campus is tradition in that most students bring technology for themselves. What may be different is the extent in which the LMS on campus is affecting the social experience on campus. We actually have more people logged on online concurrently than physically we have on campus.

The access to the LMS and services on campus is documented here – they access the LMS more than they access their own Facebook accounts. That’s part of the cultural context we find ourselves in.

What we find absolutely pervasive in Australian institutions is that every class with more than 50 students is automatically recorded (with Lectopia). The experience of the majority of students is through lecture capture. We are effectively doing distance learning whether we meant to or not.

(Nathaniel Ostashewski @ Curtin University of Technology: Lecture capture in Australia also allows for many students who are working and cannot attend campus to access the lectures. At least in our University - which is very different from North America. )
So that’s the background, the context.

A little history.

The MOOC space begins in a context 11 years ago with MIT OpenCourseWare. Another significant marker was when Berkeley put up its lectures in iTunes. And then the Khan Academy came along and began putting up videos on YouTube. And then 18 months ago Stanford came along. Now it’s MOOC-mania.

(SD - a real history of the MOOC:  )

What we find in Australia is more a reaction to the opportunity. Here’s a series of presentations and postings on MOOCs from ‘the Conversation’. One institution in Australia had joined Coursera (Melbourne). There were concerns about the North American invasion.

We’ve seen this all before, maybe. The technology context and the setting has changed in this third or fourth major attempt to do these kinds of things, access being more pervasive, more rich media, more automated assessment. The context of this wave of online learning is different from what we have seen in the past.

The typical online course is a structured content repository; the instructor has thought about which resources and the student is instructed to move through them in the crudest form possible, read this, do that, and that is the extent of the orchestration. That’s because most academics rely on the fact that we’re coming back to class and can deal with the gaps in person.

But now we can’t address those gaps in person any longer, and we’re trying to engage the student with ambition and intent, trying to get them to maximize their own thinking space and environment.

It’s an idea of generative scholarship, creating next experience and I n fact new scholarship in traversing the course. In MOOCs, we use reusable learning content, a traditional structure, but really focus on what the students are generating in this context.

An example: a MOOC to you, a module to me:

The students on campus now have co-learners to join them in that particular course model until that particular focus comes to a reasonable conclusion, the outside world’s perspective, which is the MOOC, concludes, while the on-campus student’s perspective continues.

What of place in all of this. Our interest is not in becoming an online environment for millions of people all around the world, our interest is in really leveraging the experience our students can have with the students around the world. It’s really the flipped classroom kind of model. The way in which we use physical space can change.

We want to see the learning design patterns change, we want to see phy6sical participation in the profession, that is, engagement with the content and the practice, in the rich spaces that we have, and let the content engagement, which can be well-designed online, be the place where content is delivered. (Eg. Pictures of classes, eg., composed of ‘terraces’).

Recently, we tried bringing people together en masse. We took a large space that is a sports facility and turned it into a learning environment, tables of nine, an instructor and two TAs, and engagement simply in terms of ‘showing up’ is stunning, 85-90 per cent attendance.

Our engagement with MOOCs, and we’ve just started to partner with EdX, is because we are learning how to refactor how learning on campus takes place, to put the effort into learning design into the online context, moving away from these little boxes, and looking at the campus as a series of practice spaces.

(SD- Stephen Downes: This is a good model - but one wonders why it would be reserved for tuition-paying students - why not move it out into the community as a whole - you'd get *much* better 'tables of nine')