The growing benefits of online education recently have come together in one revolutionary package, via the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the end of December 2011, MIT announced its plan to inaugurate an online education program titled “MITx.” As detailed in its website, MITx will offer a subset of MIT’s courses, free of charge, through an online learning platform that will “organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace; feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication; allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx”; and, finally, “operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.” MIT’s vision is ambitious, to say the least: It “expects that MITx will eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.”
Shireland Collegiate Academy in Smethwick is taking advantage of the opportunities provided by e-learning to improve the education of its pupils. Lord Jim Knight went to see the facility alongside Doug Brown, director of global advisory organisation Step A International, in order to find out the ways it has used technology to support learning. The Express and Star reported Lord Knight and Mr Brown saw year seven pupils aged 11 to 12 utilising PlayStations as part of a virtual learning environment, as well as children a year older than them studying the Crusades with Microsoft software. E-learning director at the educational establishment and lead teacher of the Young People’s E-learning Network Kirsty Tonks told the publication that e-learning helps students to show their work to a global audience rather than just their teacher.
In the recent survey of Guardian Higher Education Network readers and members I was surprised that ‘the changing nature of learning platforms’ did not feature more prominently under ‘changes in the sector’. While I understand that there are pressing social, political and economic reasons for this I think that we should all be mindful of the disruptive technological methodologies that are beginning to emerge which have the potential to fundamentally change the sector. Only last month the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that it is launching a fully automated free online course through it’s MITx initiative. This builds on the institutions already established Open Course Ware (OCW) platform which provides materials from over 2,100 course for free and expands on it by automating the course at all levels from delivery to assessment.
Barbara Zuck, assistant professor of business at Montana State University–Northern, was teaching a 100-level online course in business leadership and wanted to understand her students’ experiences in the course. So at the end of the course she asked students three open-ended questions:
What are the two greatest difficulties you had taking this course in an online environment?
What three things surprised you most by taking this course in an online learning environment?
What three things would you change about this course, assuming it were also taught in an online learning environment?
A class with tens or even hundreds of thousands of students might sound like a teacher’s bad dream. But a big idea in higher education these days is the massive open online course, or MOOC. Some universities offer free, non-credit MOOCs available to anyone in the world. Others charge for courses and provide credits. The idea is still developing. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently started its first MOOC. The school plans to offer many free, non-credit courses through a project called MITx. So far, most massive open online courses are in computer science, technology, mechanics and engineering. For example, students around the world are taking a free course called “Building a Computer Search Engine.” Two computer scientists, Sebastian Thrun and David Evans, are offering this course through udacity.com.
By Alma Linda Manzanares, San Antonio College the Ranger
Psychology Chair Thomas Billimek expressed concern March 7 at Faculty Senate meeting over a proposed revision to a college procedure that requires faculty members who teach online courses to live within a day’s travel of this college. He referred to Procedure I.1, Online Teaching Expectations and Procedure for Exceptions, which states, “Online instructors must be located within a day’s travel of the campus at any time in order to meet with a student in person if they request it, and within 24 hours of the request.” I don’t understand that. I have a real issue with that one,” Billimek said. He said he has an adjunct in his department who lives in Indiana and is unsure if it is possible for the instructor to meet the requirement. Billimek said if an adjunct teaches online courses, it should not matter how far away they are from the student.
Express News Service reports that this advancement is enabling students to stay ahead of their peers and pass their exams. Digital technologies are particularly commonplace among the young, with many teenagers using computers to study and to communicate, the news source pointed out. This has attached itself to online learning technologies, which are taking off all over the world. Writing for community portal CoolAvenues.com, Bangalore University science graduate Varsha Agarwal said India has experienced significant technological advancements in recent years and this could support persistent growth in the country’s e-learning sector. “Experts claim that e-learning medium is ‘on a roll’ due to the numerous benefits such as speed of delivery, increasing accessibility of learning, generating user specific content, reducing cost of learning and increasing flexibility,” he stated.
by Jayne Josephsen, International Journal of ePortfolio
Clinical nursing courses can already be challenging, in the traditional context of placements and hours spent in a health care setting. These types of courses are additionally problematic when offered via distance learning, due to geographic separation of students, lack of clinical placement sites in the student’s community, and lack of faculty/student personal interaction and connectedness. In this review of an online R.N. to B.S. completion clinical course in community and public health nursing, the self-directed learning (SDL) educational theory framework and a project based eportfolio format was instituted as a way to address these online learning problems. The results of implementing the eportfolio as a pedagogical practice are examined as well as considerations for improvement in the use of this instructional strategy. Additionally, student and faculty issues related to the introduction and use of the eportfolio are discussed.
South Korea’s e-learning market is realising sustained growth, according to the country’s government. Yonhap News reports that over half of the populace over the age of three have used e-learning educational aids or similar devices. In 2010, 49 per cent of these people had used virtual learning environments in their education, but this figure is now 52.8 per cent, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy revealed. There was a 6.9 per cent year-on-year jump in the number of e-learning course service providers in 2011, hitting 1,656, with a 7.3 per cent growth in the number of people employed by these firms, which reached 25,182. Combined sales from these enterprises increased by 9.2 per cent over the year, with transactions reaching 2.45 trillion won (£1.39 billion).
The popularity and success of the Khan Academy has reached remarkable levels. According to the academy’s website, they have delivered more than 126 million lessons. In fact, scrolling through their extensive list of lessons will allow you to learn about art history, banking, algebra, organic chemistry, physics, healthcare, and much more. Khan now travels to colleges and universities, speaking and influencing professors to use class time to interact, answer questions, and help their students, rather than just giving lectures. Khan encourages the practice of recording video lectures and assigning them as homework. Khan claims to have changed the minds of many professors and the methods of many universities already, so even though he has no formal education training, Khan may still end up changing the traditional classroom in a significant way, according to The Chronicle.
It’s a free whiteboard app called ShowMe that will currently play 1.5 million teacher-produced lessons. The first iteration of the app has been downloaded over 400,000 times. Now, with an updated version that empowers users to create, search and share lessons, it’s ready to emerge as a leader in the digital education revolution ushered in by the iPad. ShowMe, like other whiteboard apps, captures what users draw on the iPad screen but it also records their voice. Creations are then stored and can be shared with others. For users, ShowMe capitalizes on the touch computing of the iPad, which feels more interactive than a mouse and keyboard, but it also provides the “pen on paper” look-and-feel. While glossy educational animations can do a lot to teach concepts, ShowMe captures more intuitive learning by showing handwritten sketches and notes as well as showing them revealed in real time. This lends itself to following along with the reasoning behind explanations that makes certain teachers so successful in helping students learn.
Is this a major play for market share, a genuine effort to promote development and cross-pollination in the LMS market, or a bit of both? Blackboard announced the acquisition of both Moodlerooms and Netspot, along with the creation of a new “Open Source Services Group“, headed by none other than Charles Severance, founding Chief Architect of the Sakai Project. Josh Coates, CEO of Instructure (maker of the Canvas LMS; many outside of the ed tech space may remember him as the founder of Mozy) characteristically didn’t pull any punches, telling me Monday night that, It looks like Blackboard is giving up on innovation and instead is focused on commoditizing the LMS. Moodle, Sakai, Angel, BB 9.1 – it’s all the same to them now. They want to make their money by offering generic IT service and software. Given Blackboard’s decline in LMS market share, I suppose it’s the only option they had.
Many college students seek online classes because they need a more flexible academic schedule. I have done a great amount of schooling online and, although there are tremendous difficulties that go along with it, I have to say it is pretty rewarding. Students who cannot afford to go to school and simultaneously work a full-time job often seek classes that will fit around their busy lives. My first year of college I worked 40 hours a week in a factory, headed home to do my schoolwork, then went to sleep and repeated this process for two semesters. Even though this was really challenging, I still gained college credit and did not have to worry about debt. A major factor of online classes is cutting costs, whether the cost is traveling to the school or in the cost of textbooks.
by Tony Bates, Online Learning and Distance Education Resources
n an earlier post I complained that video is not being used enough in online learning in post-secondary education, and when it is used, it is often poorly used. The same applies to audio – perhaps to a lesser extent in terms of amount of use (podcasting and audio clips are is now quite common) – but its full potential is still often unrealised. Again, we can learn a lot from earlier research done on radio and audio-cassettes in the 1970s and 1980s at the Open University.
When Chris Schrader graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout he thought his school days were behind him. Working full-time and going to graduate school didn’t seem feasible, but then he remembered the handful of online courses he took at UW-Stout and it dawned on him. He now attends Western Governors University, based out of Salt Lake City, UT and is enrolled in its Business Administration and Information Technology Management Master’s program. “I needed the flexibility to relocate for job opportunities along with the ability to continue my career while completing my studies,” Schrader said. “Online schooling allowed me to take classes while making a living.”
Cal State Online, an up-and-coming online learning university program, recently published documents on its website in order to improve communication with the pubic. Although the details of the program are in the works, executive director Ruth Claire Black said that she hopes students join the comment calls and include themselves in the development process. “We don’t want to spend a lot of energy and time to add services that are not in interest,” she said. “We want to make sure that services provide value in many different perspectives.”
Running a successful company is no small feat, and learning the ins and outs of the process is something that takes years to accomplish. But in a simulated environment, at least, Marinelly Simmonds has the hang of things. “So we have entry-level cameras and multi-feature cameras,” said Simmonds, a senior Kent State student through a partnership with Lorain County Community College, scrolling through an array of numbers on her computer screen. In addition to just those two products, there is plenty to account for: shareholder returns, research and development, yearly price figures and employment.
More students are going to class by turning on their home computer instead of walking into a lecture hall at Kent State University. In two years, the number of students participating in distance learning courses has nearly doubled from about 6,900 in 2010 to 12,359 in 2012. “About one in every three students is taking an online course each semester,” Kent State University President Lester Lefton said. “That’s a lot of students taking a lot of courses.”
When most people hear someone talk about an education revolution, it is common to believe that they are talking about the role technology plays in changing the face of education. Many people argue that just throwing technology at education is not going to do much to improve the quality, and it’s a fair point. To properly infect education with technology, we need to be wise and strategic in how we build it into the system. There have been many recent developments in the educational-tech space recently; from supplying students with laptops and iPads in the classroom, to numerous education related apps at the app store. Probably the most prominent development is the advent of “online education,” and I’m not talking about another online learning management system.
Mr. James Asher: AP Literature & Composition and Freshman English: Over the past several days I’ve found myself discussing online learning with various members of our educational community: students, teachers, administrators, and parents. In these conversations I’ve sensed skepticism from some and blind faith from others about the effectiveness of online learning. A digital immigrant myself, I went through the fire of a master’s degree in Instructional Technology several years ago and learned little at that time about online learning, in part because it had yet to come into its own. I recently completed an online learning certification course and, as a result of this challenge, am now convinced that online learning can be extremely effective and an attractive option for students.