Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 30th 2015 Contents A36
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Dr Paul Kim
had an inter-
tion for local
the third day of
UWI s three-
series on Insti-
Best Practice in
tion at the uni-
versity s Cen-
tre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning on Friday.
And he had hard facts to back up some bracing
He does lecture at Stanford University, which sits
pretty much in the middle of California's Silicon Valley,
a university whose entrepreneurial graduates have
created more than 5.4 million jobs in 40,000 companies
which generate 2.7 trillion annually.
Among those graduates are the cofounders of Google,
Yahoo, Netflix, Linked-In and PayPal.
So when a man who sits in the middle of that kind
of activity tells you that there's a new sector riding
on the growth of technology, it's probably time to pay
attention, particularly if it's the sector you happen to
be employed in.
Among the new Internet based educations are
Coursera, Lynda.com, K12, Chegg, Schoolology, Udacity
to name but a few of the companies who represent
a surge in online education spending that's jumped
to more than two billion annually.
Remind, a service to help students organise them-
selves, has 10 million users and has sent 65 million
reminders since it went live.
Dr Kim is the author of a book about the phenom-
enon, Massive Open Online Courses: The MOOC
Revolution, which he positions as the spark of an edu-
He points to the curated free courses offered online
by Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, and Caltech as
examples of the subtle shift in learning from the class-
room to widely dispersed computer and tablet screens.
Udemy, which has six million students, offers 25,000
courses and stands as an alternative to both the tra-
ditional university track and course material system.
By comparison, the Khan Academy strikes him as
rather sedate, a flipping of the education model that's
remained firmly within the box.
But the educator is also clear on the problems that
are inherent in moving from chalk and talk to self-
motivated and paced learning. "If a student has been
in a one-way stream learning environment for 12 years,
don't expect the student to suddenly become a self
motivated and self regulated student, taking advantage
of alternative education options," he said.
There is real difficulty in keeping students engaged
in online education. Udacity has an average course
completion rate of below 13 per cent.
Kaplan University notes that video lectures alone
don't create the best learning opportunities, "empathy
and learning opportunities do."
That's given rise to coaching and mentoring systems
such as BLOC, which bills itself as a learning "boot-
camp," taking on the chores of reminding, coaching,
modeling, mentoring and motivating and boasts a
completion rate of 96 per cent.
NovoEd is an evolving MOOC, focusing on team-
based learning while adding peer evaluation to the
mix. Students who participate effectively earn rep-
utation, while a connection with Linked-In acts as a
global registrar's office, and endorsements there build
student reputation and demand for them as team
None of this is a one-way street.
The millions of students participating in online
learning opportunities leave a quiet thunder of digital
footprints, which analytics companies can mine.
Civitas Learning examines all this digital spoor and
Online education, upgraded
offers predictive models and early warning
signal detection which tracks how stu-
dents use digital education services to
guide interventions that boost student
progress. Like Heat Maps for online stu-
Students also have to play their part
in this rapidly evolving environment.
They must come to the table knowing
how to search intelligently, knowing who
knows what, knowing how to present
and persuade, leveraging networks, del-
egating are all basic skills to using these
Dr Kim is particularly fond of the qual-
ity question as an indicator of student
involvement in the classroom.
To that end he's created the Stanford
Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environ-
ment (SMILE), which builds a seamless
question system into most common
mobile devices (http://ow.ly/OU0y1) that's
been tested in South Korea and Colom-
bia."Questions are indicators of learning,"
Dr Kim said.
"Better questioning is the process and
outcome of better learning, passion fuels
sustainable learning and engagement."
The software allows participants to create ques-
tions, incorporate mobile media, present problems,
solve problems, evaluate, reflect and exchange learn-
For dramatically underserved communities, there's
a stand-alone webserver box that runs on batteries
that includes a range of software that's allowed the
system to be used in environments with no Inter-
A test of the closed loop system was tested in
Tanzania eliminating textbooks altogether, using
the information built into the box. Several of Dr
Kim's students have, in turn, used his MOOC system
in their own projects in challenged communities.
At the core of his system is the idea that teachers
are coaches, not leaders and certainly not totems
of all-pervasive knowledge.
•Continues on Page A38
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