Being taught and teaching

What would it be like to sit in the eye of a hurricane? When do we notice disruptive changes that redefine our lives in some way?

I wonder if we only really appreciate the impact quite a while after the change has occurred. It seems to me that teaching and education are in that phase as well. cartoon comparing innovation and with dishwashers!

There are huge changes in the technology of teaching and discussions on the very philosophy of teaching which will be fully understood perhaps years later. In turn these changes are affecting technology and social behaviour. And here we are right in middle of it all perhaps unaware of size of the wave we are surfing!

MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses have now been around for a few years and several top universities offer them (see the top few here). The pros and cons of MOOCs have and continue to be debated. With MOOCs the internet has made it possible for hundreds of thousands of people distributed globally to attend courses offered by one professor. From the students point of view this is free education from globally renowned experts at one’s convenience– wow! Interestingly to offer such a course, the instructor needs to consider practical aspects such as how more than 100,000 assignments can be graded? One solution: the use of crowdsourcing in assessment becomes important in the logistics of assessing and literally changes the nature of learning as well! How successful MOOCs can be in the long term is anyone’s guess. The more interesting question is what are the new things we will learn about learning through MOOCs?

Another aspect of teaching that is now being discussed is Just in time” approach. “Just in time” is a case of inductive learning and to an extent involves “flipping” the role of contact time in the teaching cycle: the students are asked to complete some learning outside the classroom on their own time and their feedback is used to inform classroom activities/lectures. This could mean quizzes being completed beforehand (encouraging students to engage with the material and thinking about it) and the feedback on these (what topics students found hardest, for example) being used to determine what topic class time would be focused on. Another way to interpret “just in time” is to assign students practical /problem solving projects and for them to learn the concepts and acquiring the knowledge essential to complete the project. All this is designed for learning to be more effective and interactive.

I want to be part of these developments too. So I have signed up to learn through a MOOC on solar cells and I am going to use “flipping” in my teaching this term. Then maybe I will have a stronger sense of the change that’s happening.

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