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WISE Panel: Can MOOCs democratize higher education?

The recording from the Can MOOCs democratize higher education? panel at WISE is available here. Donald Clark shares his experience of the event as a whole, including our panel.

One interesting take away from WISE13 was how much people still want a teacher. During the session, if a panelist desired applause, all that was required was a statement along the lines of “this is not about technology, it is about teachers” or “teachers are so important” or (as in our panel) “it’s not software or hardware but humanware”. I understand the appeal of wanting someone to guide us or wanting a person rather than a computer to direct our learning. Brian Lamb has an excellent post on Agency and Algorithms that captures the dehumanizing aspect of algorithmic instruction. The concern of waning teacher influence is not only a result of technology – it is also due to the prominence of networks and participatory culture. Mediators, in networks, are less important than they are in hierarchies.

We face a future of less teachers. Or perhaps, less of a traditional view of teachers and more teachers overall as we can self organize and teach each other. A small example of this is Google Helpouts, which offers not only the technology to tutor others but also the marketplace to be discovered.

One Comment

  1. Hi George,
    The current model of higher education deliberately dissuades people from self learning either individually or through the network. Our culture tells us that we want to be taught. We see this reinforced in the media everyday. This will change as the benefits of self paced, network facilitated auto didactic learning being more apparent. That is not to say that there won’t be a role for the taught course. There will still be taught courses, they just won’t necessarily be the only or even the predominant model of learning.
    I’m glad you mention Google Helpouts. This could be an enormously important development in shared learning.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink