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MOOCs will force every professor to improve his or her pedagogy or face an online competitor

Tom Friedman wrote a very well-balanced opinion piece in the NY Times titled, The Professors’ Big Stage.  He highlights his key takeaways from a conference he just attended convened by M.I.T. and Harvard on “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education” — a k a “How can colleges charge $50,000 a year if my kid can learn it all free from massive open online courses?” I agree with most of his key points and I’ve summarized a few of  of my favorites below:

  • We’re moving to a more competency-based world where there will be less interest in how you acquired the competency — in an online course, at a four-year-college or in a company-administered class — and more demand to prove that you mastered the competency.
  • Strong consensus that this “blended model” combining online lectures with a teacher-led classroom experience was the ideal.
  • We demand that plumbers and kindergarten teachers be certified to do what they do, but there is no requirement that college professors know how to teach. No more. The world of MOOCs is creating a competition that will force every professor to improve his or her pedagogy or face an online competitor.
  • There is still huge value in the residential college experience and the teacher-student and student-student interactions it facilitates. But to thrive, universities will have to nurture even more of those unique experiences while blending in technology to improve education outcomes in measurable ways at lower costs.
  • We still need more research on what works, but standing still is not an option.

As always, MOOCs dominated the higher ed publications this week. Below are a few that I found interesting and as usual, the comments are as interesting as the articles.

Online Education May Make Top Colleges More Elite (Chronicle – 3/4/13)

Another report from the MIT/Harvard Conference

  – Measuring the MOOC Dropout Rate (Inside Higher Ed – 3/8/13)

Phil Hill, an education technology consultant, has come up with four categories of MOOC users: lurkers, drop-ins, passive participants and active participants.