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Is the education market ripe for disruption?

How will we know if it is? As this crisis-driven experiment launches, we should be collecting data and paying attention to the following three questions about higher education’s business model and the accessibility of quality college education.

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Do students really need a four-year residential experience? In theory, lectures that require little personalisation or human interaction can be recorded as multi-media presentations, to be watched by students at their own pace and place. The students would also have more resources at their disposal, too, because they wouldn’t have to reside and devote four full years at campuses.

The same students and instructors that met until a few weeks back for the same courses, are now trying alternative methods. With the current experiment, students, professors, and university administrators must keep a record of which classes are benefiting from being taught remotely and which ones are not going so well. The F2F setting levels lots of differences, because students in the same class get the same delivery. Rich students have the latest laptops, better bandwidths, more stable wifi connections, and more sophisticated audio-visual gadgets.

Even in a 1,000-student classroom, an instructor can sense if students are absorbing concepts, and can change the pace of the teaching accordingly. A student can sense whether they are asking too many questions, and are delaying the whole class.

Is our technology good enough to accommodate these features virtually? What more needs to be developed? Instructors and students must note and should discuss their pain points, and facilitate and demand technological development in those areas. Online courses require educational support on the ground: Instructional designers, trainers, and coaches to ensure student learning and course completion.

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What training efforts are required for faculty and students to facilitate changes in mindsets and behaviours? As students across the nation enter online classrooms in the coming weeks, they’re going to learn that many instructors are not trained to design multimedia presentations, with elaborate notations and graphics. Students also face a number of issues with online courses.

Anything done online suffers from attention span, because students multi-task, check emails, chat with friends, and surf the Web while attending online lectures. University administrators and student bodies are being accommodative and are letting instructors innovate their own best course, given such short notice.

Instructors, students, and university administrators should all be discussing how the teaching and learning changes between day 1 of virtual education and day X. This will provide clues for how to train future virtual educators and learners. After the crisis subsides, is it best for all students to return to the classroom, and continue the status quo? Or will we have found a better alternative? Read the full article here

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