Follow Wired Twitter Facebook RSS Context Is King: Why Today’s MOOCs Don’t Meet Corporate Needs

14 Jan

Student doing homework on a laptop computer.

[ courosa/Flickr ]

By Alan Todd, CorpU and Dr. George Siemens, UTA’s LINK Lab

In 1996, Bill Gates declared that “content is king.” Gates was talking about the Internet, and the publishing, creating, and accessing capabilities that came as a result. However, the same has been true in education for a very long time. Education — from elementary to college to corporate learning — has relied on the “sage on the stage” approach: one teacher, explaining content to a class of students. The primary value, often assumed, of the teacher is his or her content knowledge and the ability to transfer this content effectively to the students in the class.

There are some good reasons why this is true; while education is about more than just the collection of facts, there is a baseline level of knowledge that learners need before they can move on to higher order critical and creative thinking. However, in higher education — and to an even greater extent, corporate education — our historical model of expert-to-student instruction becomes increasingly less relevant in an age where nearly any piece of information can be found with a few well-crafted Google queries.

The relationship structures inherent in this model of education do not reflect the realities of the workplace today. Companies are increasingly moving away from command and control organizations to more nimble, decentralized structures. While previously, workers were expected to take orders from a boss and then accomplish those objectives (an “I say/you do” structure common in education), workers now are expected to collaborate in teams, thinking strategically to overcome undefined challenges or improve processes in innovative ways.

While technology has changed the way we do nearly everything else, the experience of corporate education has remained fairly consistent over time. Even Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), one of the innovations with the greatest buzz in education, still rely on an expert presenting information, with limited opportunities for students to engage.

[ Full article available on WIRED: ]

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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in MOOCs in the News, Op-Ed


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