Online University Model (Massive Open Online Course - MOOC).

The traditional model of teaching that came out of the 19th century industrialised world to prepare children for work in factory-like environments has limited application now. Rows of seated children who are lectured to by a teacher; then tested on how much they know isn't the most appropriate, ie
"...knowledge is increasing at an exponential rate. What we need is to give children the skills needed in the workplace today - collaboration, working together, problem-solving, teamwork..."
Vince Campbell as quoted by Michael Bleby, 2014

Universities are facing the challenges of
- increasing popularity of massive online open courses
- global competition for students
- threats to traditional sources of funding

MOOC is another way the Internet is revolutionising how we think, work and play. The Medieval-era university sector was ripe for some online disruption. MOOC started around 5 years ago and most of the courses are free and cover a great range of topics. It allows unlimited number of students to sign up, log in and drop out of expensive higher education courses. An example of its increasing popularity is one university in Australia (Melbourne University) had no online students in 2012; by 2013 it had around 300,000 enrolled online (AFR 2014). A similar story for AdelaideX (Adelaide Uni), in its first 6 months had 65,000 students enrol from 160+ countries (2015) (Alison Harvey 2015).

It involves using the latest communication technology and social networking. It allows students to study courses from the world's top universities "free" or by paying minimum fees on the Internet. This involves disaggregating in components of university learning and having them available on the Internet. It has started to provide a credible threat and alternative to traditional offers of physical-campus university courses. Of the thousands of people enrolling, around 10% are completing the courses. Some firms (with links to Universities) conducting MOOC include

- Udacity (via AT&T and Georgia Tech) is offering on-line Masters degrees in computing at less than one third of the cost of a traditional course. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can access these courses

- Harvard business School is offering an online pre-MBA for US$1,500

· Like all disruptive technology there is a need for fine tuning. For example, accreditation of courses needs to be formalized.

· It is expected that the top universities with solid reputations are expected to benefit most from MOOC; the mediocre universities could suffer the same fate as many newspapers have from the Internet, ie

"...universities' revenues would fall by more than half, employment in the industry will drop by nearly 30% and more than 700 institutions will shut their doors..."

The Economist, 2014g

· Students will benefit from MOOC as they will have access to higher education at a lower cost and a greater convenience.

.It is another way the Internet is revolutionising how we think, work and play. The Medieval-era university sector was ripe for some online disruption. MOOC started around 5 years ago and most of the courses are free and cover a great range of topics. It allows unlimited number of students to sign up, log in and drop out of expensive higher education courses. An example of its increasing popularity is one university in Australia (Melbourne University) had no online students in 2012; by 2013 it had around 300,000 enrolled online.

It involves using the latest communication technology and social networking. It allows students to study courses from the world's top universities "free" or by paying minimum fees on the Internet. This involves disaggregating in components of university learning and having them available on the Internet. It has started to provide a credible threat and alternative to traditional offers of physical-campus university courses. Of the thousands of people enrolling, around 10% are completing the courses. Some firms (with links to Universities) conducting MOOC include

- Udacity has 22 courses; mainly IT & maths (it is the pioneer of MOOC, ie founded by Sebastian Thrun (late 2011) who was the key developer of Google's self-drive car and augmented-reality glasses). As a computer science professor at Stanford University. Thrun put his course on artificial intelligence online, free of charge. This course went viral, ie attracting 160,000 enrolments and of these 20,000 finished

- Coursera (not-for-profit provider) has 314 courses; core of science & maths plus finance, economics, history, philosophy & music (62 tertiary partners including Princeton, Stanford, Caltech, John Hopkins, Penn State, Columbia, Uni. of Melbourne, etc)

- EdX (not-for-profit provider) has 26 courses; mainly science with some humanities (included initially Harvard & MIT, now its 12 partners include Berkley, Uni. of Texas, Wellesley College, Georgetown, Australian National University, Rice, McGill, etc)

- MOOC (UK) (open University channel on iTunesU which started in 2011 with more than 50m. downloads in little over a year via app. FutureLearn (2013) in its first year had more than 1 m. enrolments for its free education modules. FutureLearn has British universities supplying courses plus local institutions like the British Museum, the British library and the British film Institute

"...what students want, and are demanding actually, is that the lecture, the notes and the formative or ongoing assessments should be online......before the lecture or tutorials so that's precious time which they have with their lecturer, or their professor......They get to challenge and ask questions..."

Martin Bean as quoted by Tim Dodd, 2015
This is often called "flipped classroom" as home-work comes before the class. This is developing into a more cost-effective approach for universities as it will provide a better product/service at a lower cost (see Po for more detail).

Some variations of MOOC include

i) "freemium"- the learning material is free on-line; while you have to pay for tutorials (one-on-one or group) and/or sitting examinations.

ii) "flip-the-classroom" - it a concept is where you acquire a lot of content knowledge before you come to the classroom which encourages collaborative learning. It abolishes the lecture and textbook by allowing the students to view online material from some of the world's best academics in different fields of expertise; then they meet the lecturer(s) and tutor(s) in a classroom where the emphasis is on small-group learning around understanding the content. This is similar to some high-quality MBA courses which provide the discussion of course material in small groups and close interaction with tutors. One advantage of this is the savings re preparing and presenting lectures

iii) some universities are taking fees from organisations for placing the best MOOC graduates into jobs in those organisations

iv) licensing their courses to other universities use in place of lectures

v) offering credits for more formal ciurses to students who pass a MOOC course, ie pass a supervised exam

The key breakthrough was the user-friendly formatting of the learning material, ie videos of lectures were entered into short bursts of around 5 minutes and followed by quick multiple-choice quizzes, ie

"...If you miss the concepts, you watch the video again. Once you understood, you move on to the next segment. It is education designed for understanding..."

Tim Dodd, 2013

Rather than sitting in a crowded lecture theatre where the whole class moves at the same pace, you can get the same material in a well designed, online format where you can study when convenient, go at your own pace and review things that are not clear. Even though students never meet in person they can share and discuss subjects online.

Sometimes this is called the University of Facebook - where the normal interaction and communications is online.

More on on-line learning

Only need a computer and Internet connection

It allows for greater flexibility when compared with the on-campus courses (like studying at your convenience), don't need to attend scheduled on-campus events like lectures, tutorials, etc

Using on-line forums, virtual tutorials and one-on-one communications via Internet (like Skype, emails, etc) with lecturers and peers to counter the lack of face-to-face learning benefits of on-campus studying

Other technology predicted to help in education include

- learning analytics (data mining using analytics software to improve educational outcomes by customising on-line course platforms; suggesting resources and coaching students towards productive behaviour is based on their personal data)

- 3-D printing (used to create models and teaching aids to explain complex concepts in the arts, sciences, design and manufacturing sectors)

- wearable technology (like Google glasses which is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display)

- semi-experimental learning (allow first person live streams to complement lecture material, real-time translation will break down language barriers and Web browsers will keep research material instantly available)

 

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