There is a long history of teaching machines—mechanical, multimedia, and computers—extending back to an 1809 patent for an educational appliance for the teaching of reading. By 1936, there were nearly seven hundred patents for teaching devices. The history of these devices can be traced from the original patented machines of the nineteenth century through the teaching/testing devices of Sidney Pressey in the 1920s to the more sophisticated teaching machines of Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner in the 1950s.
Where initial devices were more about testing, late-twentieth-century efforts focused on teaching that enables students to adapt to machine-provided feedback. B.F. Skinner created a mechanical “teaching machine” in the mid-1950s that broke learning into sequenced steps and allowed students to pace themselves as they worked through a series of questions. The steps resembled processes that tutors use to engage students and guide them, via feedback, toward increasingly accurate responses and new knowledge. The machine posed questions and offered new questions only when the student answered correctly; an incorrect answer caused the machine to repeat the question. Skinner’s efforts eventually fell out of favor in part because few companies were willing to invest in designing and developing materials for a product with an indeterminate future, but interest in adaptive learning persisted through the latter half of the century with the emergence of affordable personal computers.
Contemporary instructional designers adhere to Skinner’s basic tenets, offering adaptive learning tools that present course materials to students who do not move on to subsequent questions until their performance, based on data generated in the adaptive learning process, indicates competency and knowledge. Adaptive learning combines individualized instruction (or rather, something that feels like it to the student), peer interaction, effective and engaging simulations, and applications that dynamically adapt to the learner’s abilities.
2012, according to the media, was The Year of the MOOC. Massive Open Online Courses were declared to be a revolution in college education. The flow of media coverage hyped MOOCs as either the salvation of a beleaguered educational system or the corrosive agent that would dilute it beyond recognition and value.At the same time, venture funding poured into the coffers of education technology companies intent on cashing in on the newly disrupted higher education market. That investment is reshaping the development of learning and content delivery platforms being marketed to your campus, your faculty, and your students. And rapidly forming partnerships between for-profit firms and universities are providing technology vendors with a powerful vehicle for selling to higher education and inserting themselves into the dialogue about the future of educational content and delivery.But college and university administrators do not have to sit passively by, waiting for the MOOC wave to wash over them. There are still seats at the table for those intent on guiding higher education into the future. Campus leaders would do well to shoulder their way in now, rather than wait for an invitation to help shape that future.
MOOCs: Opportunities, Impacts, and Challenges, being a survey of the issues and opportunities associated with Massive Open Online Courses, is an invaluable guide to those responsible for their institution’s mission. Armed with the information in this book, you will be able to sort out the substance from the hype in the roiling MOOC debate, and effectively fold the future into the strategic mission of your campus.
The chapters to this book will be live on this blog again in April, 2014. The book is available in Kindle and print formats from Amazon. It is currently part of the Amazon KDP Select program and, as a result, it is not permitted to be published in any digital format, anywhere for the 90 day duration of the program. Once that time is up, I will make the chapters available here once again. Given that MOOCs are such a moving target, I will also be updating the content here, and in the Amazon Kindle version. Thanks for your patience!
Get the complete book Thinking Strategically about MOOCs: The Role of Massive Open Online Courses in the College and University at Amazon in print or kindle version. . . . Many will object to the use of data mining, learning analytics, and … Continue reading →
Get the complete book Thinking Strategically about MOOCs: The Role of Massive Open Online Courses in the College and University at Amazon in print or kindle version. The report “Learning To Adapt: A Case for Accelerating Adaptive Learning in Higher Education” makes an … Continue reading →
Get the complete book Thinking Strategically about MOOCs: The Role of Massive Open Online Courses in the College and University at Amazon in print or kindle version. Apollo Group and Carnegie Learning. In August 2011, the Apollo Group, which runs the University … Continue reading →
Get the complete book Thinking Strategically about MOOCs: The Role of Massive Open Online Courses in the College and University at Amazon in print or kindle version. Big Data is at the heart of modern science and business. ~ Francis X. Diebold, … Continue reading →