Online Learning Today with #eduMOOC

Last week, the #eduMOOC course with over 2, 500 participants located in over 60 countries participated in the first session topic Online Learning Today for the Online Learning Today… and Tomorrow course.
I will be honest – the massive, open and online courses format will not be taking first year undergraduate courses by storm. Many of my incoming students are concerned with transition from high school to higher education, and often stay clear of online courses in their first semester. In contrast, as a graduate student and self-proclaimed life-long learner, I like the autonomy and independence a MOOC has to offer. I like to connect, share and learn informally with others, so this is probably why I signed up for the course.  The first week’s session (Thursday 1-2 pm CT) was recorded and the PDF slides were archived for those who could not attend the live session. Here are a few key questions and ideas discussed from the panel:

Who do we serve in online learning today?

Online learning has typically met the needs of our non-traditional learners; however with the impacts and growth in emerging technology for education online learning is becoming a staple at most higher education institutions. As we are encouraged to “do more with less,” online learning is now required to meet the continuum of learners and learning pedagogues are not quite developed for many campus learning environments. Although online learning is just another dimension of learning, more higher education technology leaders need to identify methods for effective design and high-quality curriculum delivery.

Is the nature of how we learn changing? How? Why?

Both the learners and learner environments have evolved over the past 30 years. The delivery, medium, and evaluation of learning has impacted today’s higher education classroom. Emerging methods of curriculum execution and faculty instruction are beginning to increase learner engagement beyond our campuses. Online learning allows for fluid participation and continuous experiences. Learning has always been social; however new mediums now increase our learning networks across the globe and enhanced how learning objectives are reached.  

In order to meet the needs of global learners in higher education, more institutions will have to move forward with technology or be left behind. Other questions that were discussed by the panel include: 

  • How do for-profit vs. not for profit higher education institutions impact online learning? 
  • We may have one the access war, but have we won the accessibility war with online learning?
  • Are we considering universal design for learning
  • Is there still cannibalization of online learning? Disrupting College http://t.co/Jg8egj0 via @amprog
  • How are faculty, instruction & evaluations designed to review impacts for online learning?
  • What are the challenges for online learning today in 2011?
Captain Obvious point: Online learning is growing and many institutions are behind in their development and support for this type of learning. This fact is apparent. Take a look at most higher education course offerings online and how these courses are designed. Online learning IS growing, in terms of, demand, quality, global reach, resources, and access. What I am more interested is HOW higher education institutions will meet the demand of online learning? Institutions are currently struggling with decreased budgets, low enrollment numbers and maintaining staffing needs to support our student populations – just to name a few challenges.
 
In reflecting about the session, I can not say that I came away from it learning a whole lot of new ideas – more these questions will shape what lies ahead in this course for the weeks to come. I was sort of disappointed that the panel did not represent any global educational leaders in the #edtech field as planned – but hopefully this will change in future sessions. And I did take note of the debates around the actual value of this #eduMOOC and other MOOCs for education and learning in a few blogs, Twitter and other online entities of the social web – which also has contributed to my learning. 

It’s this sort of discourse that most challenges me to think and really, a MOOC is similar to a personal learning network and what you decide to make of it. As a seasoned-learner, I find great value in on-going discourse that occurs on the #eduMOOC backchannel on Twitter, on the eduMOOC Fb group or just reading blog posts that share ideas and resources about the course topics. I encourage others to engage by following a few key hashtags [#onlinelearning #eduMOOC #elearning] and start a dialogue with your classmates. I still think the best types of learning from MOOCs comes from the community of learners and those participating in the learning network. As it was said best:

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