Dr. Kay will be blogging on OpenPhD throughout this experiment in the role as one of my “PhD” advisors. Look for her posts with Dr. Kay in the title and under the category of Advising.
Originally the idea of a ‘degree’ using only Open courseware seemed to be polar opposite to everything I believed about online education.
Online education is my life’s work now. I believe very strongly that online education can, in fact, be superior to face-to-face education but only when done well.
And doing online education well, to me, means well-designed courses which are facilitated actively by expert instructors. There are several key words in that last statement.
To be a truly excellent educational experience online, courses need to first be well-designed. They should be more than lecture notes and PowerPoint slides placed online! A well-designed course should be interactive between the learner and the:
- other learners
- the facilitator
A key element of my beliefs about online education is that courses must have a facilitator. The facilitator needs to be an active participant in the discussion portions of the course. This person must also be active in providing formative assessment to students; summative assessment alone is not enough.
My friend Dennis O’Connor and others are exploring interactive well-designed courses which do not have active facilitation. I am open to learning more about this but for right now my belief still is that education requires an educator.
So the idea of open courses, truly seemed to go against what I believe is the best potential experience online education has to offer.
However, when I think about the experience 80-90 percent of my family, friends, and students have had in online education, I realize an open course might actually be better than one which is poorly designed and inadequately facilitated yet currently being offered.
I, my family, friends, and many students have reported experiences in courses which were, in essence, lecture notes online. And the gamut of facilitation has run from completely ignoring the course and the students entirely to facilitation which interfered with student learning.
Rather than discussing instructor interference with learning here, I believe I will discuss this in a future posting on my own blog http://transparentignorance.blogspot.com/
I see now that a motivated student who wants to learn for learning’s sake, may actually benefit from open education courses. Lisa has opened my eyes to this possibility, and I will accompany on her journey of learning, as an advisor, teacher, fellow learner, and friend.
Signed, Dr. Kay