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This blog was started as my reflections on the 2011 Change MOOC. It is now an on going journal of my thoughts on Higher Education, specifically teaching Biology.

Monday, January 9, 2012

21st Century Universities #change11

Drs. Irvine & Code proposed an interesting challenge in their introduction this week, a question that I have been reflecting on for a few months.  Since October I have been catching up on my reading about the state of Higher Education.  A bleak picture is painted by many authors, not just in terms of the rapidly changing face of HE, but also the students who come out of our programs.  I see the outcomes yearly.  There are students who have poorly grasped even a fraction of what was offered to them.  They chose easy routes with instructors that posed no challenge, or they crammed/dumped to pass an exam.  Over the last few years, I've been radically altering my teaching in hopes of challenging and inspiring students.

But, to the challenge at hand.  The question revolves around "...  let the learner choose the delivery method they want for course enrollment."   It is an exciting proposition, but there is one flaw that I see, and it is a flaw I see with many new systems.  Do the students really understand their choices?  Do they really know which delivery system best suits them?  

 Please understand, I don't think University administrators know what is the best modality for students, and ultimately students will be their own best advocate.  Yet, you first have to lead the student to understanding how they learn; help them find the best fit for who they are as a person.  In my current version of the class Principles of Biology I (an introductory course for biology majors), I'm using the concept of a MOOC to help students become more independent learners and show them the power of learning networks.  Let me restate, I'm Leading Them to a new style of learning.  I've recognized that the majority of my students don't possess the skills to tackle learning by themselves.  Most of them have been taught as if they were children, and not adults.  Education has become a chore, and learning is many times lost.  So I've taken a middle road between the complete freedom of a MOOC and the structure of a class.  But what does this have to do with the challenge at hand?

How does the student learn which teaching modality works best for them?