MIT has just released a report worth reading titled “Online Education: A Catalyst for Higher Education Reforms” that considers how advances in learning science and online technology might shape its future.
The report was presented in a forum on April 1 at the National Academy of Sciences in DC.
This analysis, that covers edX, stresses the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, integration between online and traditional learning, a skilled workforce specializing in digital learning design, and high-level institutional and organizational change.
- The report suggests viewing online capabilities as a scaffold and support rather than a replacement for in-person interactions between teachers and students.
- Online learning environments can be used to space learning across longer time periods and improve retention; provide learning opportunities remotely and through games or other media; and give teachers valuable data on students’ areas of challenge and success.
- We need to think of online learning as something that enables us to provide richer experiences toward differentiated or personalized instruction.
- We believe that there is a new category of professionals emerging from all this. We use the term ‘learning engineer.’ These “learning engineers” would have expertise in a discipline as well as in learning science and educational technologies, and would integrate knowledge across fields to design and optimize learning experiences.
- It’s important that this cadre of professionals get recognized as a valuable profession and provided with opportunities for advancement. Without people like this, we’re not going to make a transformation in education.
“We hope that this work will help to give our point of view on how university professors, policy makers, and government officials can think about technology and online education in the context of education at large,” says Sanjay Sarma, professor of mechanical engineering and dean of digital learning.