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Son bien conocidos los informes que, anualmente, genera el Babson College y que hacen referencia al estado de la educación en línea en los Estados Unidos. A pesar de su ámbito territorial, son un buen punto de referencia para saber cómo evoluciona o evolucionará la “salud” del e-learning a nivel global.
Sin embargo, es bueno acompañar dichos informes con otros que nos dan visiones complementarias, y que nos permite percibir desde una perspectiva más amplia la realidad de a educación en línea. Una educación en línea que, recordémoslo, tiene sus raíces en la educación no presencial o a distancia, y que ha ido evolucionando históricamente de la misma forma que lo va haciendo la tecnología que puede ser utilizada por usuarios de nivel medio.
A partir de la lectura de los mismos, cabe destacar algunos elementos que pueden marcar la tendencia de la educación en línea en los próximos años. Por un lado, se pone de manifiesto la creciente aceptación de los títulos obtenidos mediante la educación en línea. Dos tercios de las personas entrevistadas en uno de los estudios llevados a cabo consideran que hicieron una buena inversión en tiempo y dinero cuando decidieron matricularse en un programa de educación en línea para obtener su titulación. De los entrevistados, un 44% obtuvo un primer trabajo o uno Nuevo a tiempo completo; un 45% consiguió que le aumentaran el sueldo; y un 36% fue promocionado en su empresa.
Por supuesto, uno de los aspectos fundamentales es el haber seleccionado una institución líder en el sector, con una buena reputación, especialmente por lo que se refiere a la educación en línea. La garantía de acreditación, calidad del profesorado y referencias por parte de otros estudiantes son algunas de las cuestiones que se consideran básicas a la hora de escoger dónde seguir un programa en línea. Las instituciones que ponen de manifiesto disponer de un modelo educativo propio, que pueden evidenciar los resultados de egresados anteriores, y que están bien relacionadas con el tejido empresarial tienen asimismo más posibilidades de captar más estudiantes. En este sentido, cabe detenernos en un efecto curioso que está sucediendo en los últimos tiempos. Se trata de la decisión de las universidades presenciales de ofrecer también programas en línea, ya sea completamente o como parte de un programa mixto. Al lado de esta decisión aparecen las dudas sobre si se estarán haciendo la competencia a sí mismos respecto a los programas presenciales. Lo cierto es que, por un lado, los perfiles de los estudiantes que tienden a escoger un programa completamente en línea o un programa híbrido no es el mismo. Va a influir su lugar de domicilio, sus horarios, su estilo de vida… Por otro lado, y según el estudio citado, solo un 15% de estudiantes considera seguir un programa completamente presencial. Sé que muchos pensarán que esto no es así en el mundo hispanohablante. Y tienen razón… de momento. Convendría que reflexionasen seriamente.
Otro aspecto interesante hace referencia al campo de conocimiento de los programas que se ofrecen en línea. Ahí, de nuevo, lo que algunos piensan no se alinea con la realidad, ni con los que esperan los potenciales estudiantes. Muchas instituciones no están dando la opción a estudiar en línea algunos de los programas que los estudiantes estarían deseando cursar. Quizás venga de ahí el cierto trasvase de estudiantes que están sufriendo algunas instituciones. Los estudiantes desearían poder inscribirse en programas de psicología, informática, ciencias sociales, humanidades y STEM (ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas) mucho más de lo que las universidades les están ofreciendo. Estas tienen la oportunidad, al menos en el mundo angloparlante, de ofrecer los programas que las personas desean, a unos costes adecuados. En el cuadro siguiente, se pueden comprobar dichos datos.Programas que no se ofrecen en línea ni a nivel de Grado ni de Posgrado
Campos de conocimiento
(The American Association of State Colleges and Universities)
(The Council of Independent Colleges)
Justicia criminal/ Estudios paralegales
Administración de empresas
Profesiones de la Salud
Traducido y adaptado de: http://www.learninghouse.com/blog/consulting/five-trends-affecting-online-education-in-2014
Por otro lado, otro estudio pone de manifiesto que, para muchas organizaciones, los resultados de la formación mediante e-learning no solo es más eficiente, sino también más efectiva, porque se aprende más. El mismo estudio indica que la educación en línea está creciendo en todo el mundo, siendo Malasia y Vietnam los mercados en los que este crecimiento es mayor en estos momentos.
Estos estudios reflejan unas tendencias que podemos calificar de económicas: incremento de matrículas, programas más demandados, necesidades cubiertas a costes eficientes… No analizan la calidad de la formación ofrecida.
Tampoco lo hacen aquellos estudios que se centran en la evolución de las tendencias de carácter tecnológico. El Horizon Report, elaborado por el New Media Consortium, es un claro ejemplo de ello, al igual que los informes anuales de la consultora Gardner. Ambos son de gran interés, puesto que ya hemos dicho que históricamente la educación a distancia evolucionó de la mano de la tecnología al uso en cada momento. La supuesta disrupción de la que solemos oír hablar, no es otra cosa que el intento de modificación de los mercados. Deberíamos, por lo tanto, situarla en el bloque de las tendencias económicas, puesto que es el objetivo real que tiene.
Las tecnologías que vienen nos esbozan el tipo de posibilidades que las empresas de base tecnológica van a poner a nuestro alcance para que nosotros, utilizándolas, permitamos que estas empresas alcancen los resultados económicos que esperan. Las tendencias que se nos presentan solo nos cuentan lo que las empresas tecnológicas van a querer hacer. La formación no tiene nada que decir, solo utilizar o no lo que nos provean.
De ahí que sean necesarios también informes que aprecien cuáles van a ser las tendencias de las personas para enseñar y aprender, y no se confundan con aquellas que nos ofrecen desde la perspectiva económica o la perspectiva tecnológica.
En resumen, la educación en línea no solo goza de buena salud, sino que incrementará su influencia y actividad en los próximos años, emergiendo como compañera de viaje en soluciones híbridas y mixtas, además de su fortaleza como modelo educativo independiente. El equilibrio entre el desarrollo tecnológico, la calidad educativa y el coste sostenible va a ser la piedra rosetta de nuestro futuro inmediato.
There is a risk - and I see it instantiated in this post - of confusing two concepts with the label 'deep learning'. The one, typified by the chart at the top of the post, focuses on the distinction between understanding and mere memorization. The other, typified by the network diagram below, refers to unsupervised learning in neural networks - that is, learning that occurs without a 'training set' of previously resolved phenomena. We can learn from one about the other. But it is important not to conflate these distinct meanings.[Link] [Comment]
I’m going to try to pull together here the main conclusions following my discussion of epistemologies, learning theories and methods of teaching that I’ve been covering as the ‘foundations’ for my open textbook on ‘Teaching in a Digital Age.’
What I’m focusing on in this post are the teaching methods that appear to best fit the needs of learners in a digital age, and in particular those that have the best chance of developing the knowledge and skills that they will need after graduation.Epistemologies
I discussed very briefly in Chapter 2 the following epistemologies:
I discussed very briefly in Chapter 3 the following learning theories:
- (social) constructivism
- learning by doing
I discussed very briefly in Chapters 3 and 4 the following methods of teaching
- transmissive lectures, including xMOOCs
- teaching machines
- computer-assisted learning
- computer-based training
- adaptive learning
- interactive lectures, including flipped learning
- seminars and tutorials
- online collaborative learning
- labs, workshops and field trips
- traditional and cognitive apprenticeship
- experiential learning
- social reform
Again, the aim has not been to cover all epistemologies, theories of learning and methods of teaching, but to look at a wide range that have implications for developing the knowledge and skills identified in Chapter 1.Relating epistemology, learning theories and teaching methods
Although there is often a direct relationship between a method of teaching, a learning theory and an epistemological position, this is by no means always the case. It is tempting to try to put together a table and neatly fit each teaching method into a particular learning theory, and each theory into a particular epistemology, but unfortunately education is not as tidy as computer science, so it would be misleading to try to do a direct ontological classification. For instance a transmissive lecture might be structured so as to further a cognitivist rather than a behaviourist approach to learning, or a lecture session may combine several elements, such as transmission of information, learning by doing, and discussion.
Purists may argue that it is logically inconsistent for a teacher to use methods that cross epistemological boundaries (and it may certainly be confusing for students) but teaching is essentially a pragmatic profession and teachers will do what it takes to get the job done. If students need to learn facts, principles, standard procedures or ways of doing things, before they can start an informed discussion about their meaning, or before they can start solving problems, then a teacher may well consider behaviourist methods to lay this foundation before moving to more constructivist approaches later in a course or program.
Similarly we have seen that technology applications such as MOOCs or video recorded lectures may replicate exactly a particular teaching method or approach to learning used in the classroom. In many ways these methods of teaching, theories of learning and epistemologies are independent of a particular technology or medium of delivery, although we shall see in Chapter 6 that technologies can be used to transform teaching, and a particular technology will in some cases further one method of teaching more easily than others, depending on the characteristics or ‘affordances’ of that technology.
Thus, teachers who are aware of not only a wide array of teaching methods, but also of learning theories and their epistemological foundation will be in a far better position to make appropriate decisions about how to teach in a particular context. Also, as we shall see, having this kind of understanding will also facilitate an appropriate choice of technology for a particular learning task or context.Relating teaching methods to the knowledge and skills needed in a digital age
The main purpose of this whole exercise has been to enable you as a teacher to identify the teaching methods that are most likely to support the development of the knowledge and skills that students or learners will need in a digital age. We still have a way to go before we have all the information and tools needed to make this decision, but we can at least have a stab at it from here, while recognising that such decisions will depend on a wide variety of factors, such as the nature of the learners and their prior knowledge and experience, the demands of particular subject areas, the institutional context in which teachers and learners find themselves, and the likely employment context for learners.
First, we can identify a number of different types of skills needed:
- conceptual skills, such as knowledge management, critical thinking, analysis, synthesis, problem-solving, creativity/innovation, experimental design
- developmental or personal skills, such as independent learning, communications skills, ethics, networking, responsibility and teamwork
- digital skills, embedded within and related to a particular subject or professional domain
- manual and practical skills, such as machine or equipment operation, safety procedures, observation and recognition of data, patterns, and spatial factors.
There are several key points for a teacher or instructor to note:
- the teacher needs to be able to identify/recognise the skills they are hoping to develop in their students within a particular course or program
- these skills are often not easily separated but tend to be contextually based and often integrated
- teachers need to identify appropriate methods and contexts that will enable students to develop these skills
- students will need practice to develop such skills.
- students will need feedback and intervention from the teacher and other students to ensure a high level of competence or mastery in the skill
- an assessment strategy needs to be developed that recognises and rewards students’ competence and mastery of such skills
One thing that becomes clear here is that just choosing a particular teaching method such as seminars or apprenticeship is not going to be sufficient. We have to provide a rich learning environment for students to develop such skills that includes contextual relevance, and opportunities for practice, discussion and feedback. As a result, we are likely to combine different methods of teaching. It is unlikely that one method, such as transmissive lectures, or seminars, will provide a rich enough learning environment for a full range of skills to be developed within the subject area.
So it would be foolish at this stage to say that seminars, or apprenticeship, or nurturing, is the best method for developing this range of skills. At the same time, we can see the limitations of transmissive lectures, especially if they are used as the dominant method for teaching.
In order to better answer the question, we need to look more closely at the design of teaching, which means deliberately planning methods of teaching and a broad learning environment that will facilitate the development of the knowledge and skills that our students need. This will be the subject of my next chapter, which I will also share through further blog posts.Key takeaways from Chapter 4
This list of teaching methods is not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive. The aim is to show that there many different ways to teach, and all are in some ways legitimate in certain circumstances. Most instructors will mix and match different methods, depending on the needs of both the subject matter and the needs of their students at a particular time (a topic covered in Chapter 5.). There are though some core conclusions to be drawn from this comparative review of different approaches to teaching.
- No single method is likely to meet all the requirements teachers face in a digital age.
- Nevertheless, some forms of teaching fit better with the development of the skills needed in a digital age. In particular, methods that focus on conceptual development, such as dialogue and discussion, and knowledge management, rather than information transmission, and experiential learning in real-world contexts, are more likely to develop the high level conceptual skills required in a digital age.
- It is not just conceptual skills though that are needed. It is the combination of conceptual, practical and personal and social skills in highly complex situations that are needed. This again means combining a variety of teaching methods.
- Nearly all of these teaching methods are media or technology independent. In other words, they can be used in classrooms or online. What matters from a learning perspective is not so much the choice of technology as the efficacy and expertise in appropriately choosing and using the teaching method.
- Nevertheless, we shall see later in this book that new technologies offer new possibilities for teaching, including offering more practice or time on task, reaching out to new target groups, and increasing the productivity of both teachers and the system as a whole.
- In order though to fully exploit the benefits of new technologies, changes to the way we teach will be necessary, making some methods, such as transmissive lectures, almost redundant, at least as far as developing skills for a digital age are concerned.
- It is not enough to look just at teaching methods; we need to look at designing an appropriate learning environment to help foster and develop the knowledge and skills that students will need. We shall see that technology can be particularly helpful in providing such rich learning contexts.
The answer - just barely - is "yes". It takes power, of course, and internet access. In this case, "Some refugees have day jobs in the U.N. compound, and Ms. Moser-Mercer arranged to have officials let two men watch videos and complete assignments when they were not working." But it seems to me that if power, internet and access devices could be provided not just to UN offices but to the camp as a whole there could be a significant benefit produced. "My real conviction is you’ ve got to start on the ground," Barbara Moser-Mercer, "You have to go from bottom up.” Yes, these do not trump the need for food, water and shelter. But they do remind refugees that life is not just about existence.[Link] [Comment]
More on the move to shorter courses. "That question is a major theme of a 213-page report released on Monday by a committee... exploring how [MIT] should innovate to adapt to new technologies and new student expectations." It's the sort of thing, though, that works uniquely online: "The logistics of 10-minute lectures on a residential campus would be infeasible— the setup time and the time to walk between classrooms would be too great.” What this tells me, though, is that things like the setup time and the walk are essentially waste produced by in-person learning. But I guess the Chronicle wouldn't see it that way.[Link] [Comment]
Yes, there are failures in the deployment of learning technology, writes Michael Trucano. For example, "the one tablet per child project in Thailand 'has been scrapped' [and] the decision of the school district in Hoboken, New Jersey (USA) to 'throw away all its laptops'." But "Learners would not be terribly well served if educational planners in 2014 simply decided to emulate the impulses and actions of Silesian weavers back in 1844 and smash all the machines in reaction to the spread of new technologies."[Link] [Comment]
I sort of wonder about this observation: "What separates powerful learning and development organizations from the middling crowd? A May 2014 report... identifies what high-impact learning organizations (HILO's) are. In short, they actively make use of their technology, modalities and learning architecture in support of L& D objectives." I doubt that this is what distinguishes them. Perhaps what distinguishes them is that they do it successfully. But from my observation, they're all using the technology, and all pursuing L& D objectives. The superficiality of analysis is choking the discipline![Link] [Comment]
One of the points I've tried to make over the years is that open learning requires commented learning, and vice versa. That's why the drive to trivialize the 'open' in MOOC isn't just an accessibility problem, it's a pedagogical problem. Campbell writes, "we may well have missed the greater and more important aims that “ open” strives toward. And while there’ s no way to protect words from being twisted or co-opted, the phenomena of “ openwashing” and the long long O in MOOC are troubling indicators that what initially seemed to be the language of openness may have fought shy of the question of what the openness was for. How otherwise to explain a world in which broadcast lectures are touted as innovations or disruptions?"[Link] [Comment]
Another source of free (Creative Commons licensed) images. Doug Peterson writes, "You would be hard pressed to find a comparable collection. I came across the site while looking for some World War I images the other day and, I’ ll confess, I stayed and explored the site far longer than I ever expected."[Link] [Comment]
There's a bit of a discussion following this short post, not surprisingly. The core of the argument is this: "Pedagogy is defined (according to a quick Googling) as a method or practice of teaching. Mobile learning is not about teaching. Mobile learning is about...well...learning. What's the word for 'a method or practice of learning'?" Learnagogy? Learnology? The idea is that mobile learning is not about teaching... well, ok, but then, what's this?[Link] [Comment]
Tony Bates continues with his online book and the topic of this bit is as the title suggests: "There are a number of different models that focus on helping learners to learn by doing things, such as co-op or workplace programs, field trips or internships,usually under the supervision of more experienced mentors or instructors. Here I will touch briefly on only two, the use of laboratory classes/workshops/studios, and apprenticeship programs."[Link] [Comment]
The 'Brookings Report' has been cited by some as a reason to doubt that student loan repayments pose a significant economic risk. The authors write, "Despite the tremendous interest in the perceived problems in the student loan market, there is relatively little empirical evidence to support the discussion." My own view is that we will see dramatic and immediate evidence of the risk should interest rates rise significantly. But we don't need my intuition; there is data showing the Brookings Report is misleading. There is, writes Phil Hill, "clear evidence that the student loan crisis is real and will have a big impact on the economy and future student decision-making."[Link] [Comment]
There was once this think called 'programmed learning' which was essentially designed as a series of branches and options (like a computer program). Originally pioneered by B.F. Skinner, it was all the rage for a while, but has virtually disappeared. Easly computer games followed the same design - I still remember seeing a 'laser disk' game that was again a set of options and branches. With both, participants quickly learned to game the system; you couldn't program enough options to make the game unpredictable. And so now we visit today's announcement from Canvas by Instructure, which is exactly the same thing, which is proving once again that it doesn't have any corporate knowledge of the history of the field, what approaches have been tried, and why they were abandoned.[Link] [Comment]
The nurturing and social reform models of teaching and their relevance to connectivist online learning
More from Tony Bates, who is having a productive 'retirement'. This post focuses on 'the nurturing approach', "a strong emphasis on the teacher focusing on the interests of the learner, on empathizing with how the learner approaches learning, of listening carefully to what the learner is saying and thinking when learning, and providing appropriate, supportive responses in the form of 'consensual validation of experience.'"[Link] [Comment]
As I read posts and articles on education technology and digital pedagogy I find myself often wishing that writers would be more reflective. In an article about, for example, the workflow involved in teaching music online, the important bits aren't the broad overviews that anyone could figure out - creating handouts on Sibelius, storing notes on box.com, typing quick notes using of Drafts. What's interesting and relevant are the details that come of direct experience. That's what's missing in this article, and so many other articles like it. Go deep - how do you use these technologies, where do you do your writing and teaching, what mindset to you adopt to frame your lesson?[Link] [Comment]