Last century, almost nobody would deny that attending schools and college implied classrooms where teachers and students shared space and time while transiting the courses’ syllabus. Of course, there were distance and home education as well but neither of those was the majorities’ choice.
In the last decades, we saw great services provided by platforms such as Coursera, edX, Platzi, among others, and even some open classes from distinguished universities like Stanford. We may categorize these platforms as providers of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
There are different learning techniques and some are more suited than others for each person. Thus, dealing with massive attenders implies that the content should be presented and transmitted by several means, enabling the learner to make his own journey through the learning experience.
Traditional formal education is usually synchronous and old fashioned teachers who do not keep the pace of technology advances, may be reluctant to think about the process as an asynchronous one.
Experienced teachers use alumni body language as implicit feedback to revisit or repeat concepts with different approaches, but has major limitations, some of them being:
- Scalability of attendees number.
- Teacher performance is affected by his focus, humor, and tiredness, which is different in each encounter.
- A person who does not benefit from a concrete interaction may waste his time or, at least, have the feeling of being wasting it and affect his mindset.
Recorded videos, texts, and a list of frequently asked questions come in handy to switch repetitive teacher’s activities to asynchronous ones. Even more, it frees valuable time for the teacher to improve the resources and enhance them.
Quizzes and peer-reviews may not be perfect methods, but certainly are good enough to implement continuous evaluation and avoid the final exam became a kind of binary pass/reprove verdict. Final exams do not contribute to the learner in correcting his knowledge but only judge it, or if they contribute it is on a new taking of the course.
Education is a cornerstone of community improvement. It is so important that it affects exponentially (more than linearly) because well-educated individuals usually don’t stop their learning processes when reaching the first school or college degree, but affects and influences positively to others on their journey.
Asynchronous education boost participants to be in charge of their own progress, self-control is mandatory for goals’ fulfilling. As a natural consequence, alumni became individuals highly motivated to seek their own learning paths. Also, courses would be seen more and more as independent opportunities that do not require the attendee to subscribe to a whole specialization.
At first sight, inhabitants of any country are free to emigrate and have access to high-quality education. Unfortunately, that is not true in many cases. The main cause is not that some government restricts citizen’s movement; maybe the bigger obstacles are economic and technical gaps among places around the globe, aside from family attachment and assumed responsibilities related to a person’s physical location.
Educators without infrastructure and well-fitted platforms can not perform at their best. MOOCs are an excellent opportunity to make high-quality content and teachers accessible to broader people.
What about traditional institutions?
Changes in methodology and resources are subjected to thoroughly revision so the whole process is not risked. Some institutions may even avoid innovation because of the effort related to certification with the proper regulatory bodies.
Public institutions have heavy structures and, in many countries, corruption or plain ineptitude truncates innovation opportunities. Changes take time, but the gap gets bigger as the speed of information production outpaces processing capacity and there are no proper filtering policies.
To be “traditional” is neither good or bad in itself. It depends on the respects that surround the word. The tradition of improvement is good, while tradition just in terms of the long-standing does not represent a badge of quality and may even lead to the precariousness.
A lot of institutions declare that they are moving forward with innovation, but time moves on and the observable concrete changes are just not enough to state that MOOCs good practices are being included. One example is the use of teleconferences for regular lectures that, even when recorded, are not oriented to create resources for asynchronous activities.
In many cases, innovation does not fit well on the educators’ life cycle and teachers’ toolboxes, as explained in this post.
Why not both?
Alumni can attend MOOCs and, at the same time, comply with the regular exams in the traditional institutions. Even if this is not formally done, institutions can ease the mix, for example, aligning the syllabus of some courses.
Schools and colleges may take advantage of the MOOC, including them as suggested resources and formalizing through the corresponding tests that a student reached the expected level to pass the course.
Globalization is an every-day word in commerce and it needs to more deeply permeate into education. Scientific personnel and researchers are habituated to collaborate with all-around-the-globe fellows, it happened even between enemy states in wartime but is only taking its first steps in the lower and middle education levels.
Education under special situations like COVID-19 lockdown with focus in Paraguay is covered in some episodes of Mangocast, a technology podcast.
In episodes 132 and 133, the debate turned around that schools and colleges has met more than one month without regular classes, and some institutions without any activity at all. They discussed alternatives and how technology may come in help.
In episode 133, Ph.D. Prof. Christian Von Lücken shares some experiences and thoughts about remote classes where access to laboratories and specialized equipment is needed.