Some thoughts on recent developments in online education

In the past couple weeks I was referred to  this video regarding online education and I met a couple publisher representatives about a new online eBook.  “We must meet students where they are and they are on the internet looking at Facebook,” was told to me by the publisher representative.    Those representatives were pushing for me to adopt their new online eBook in my classes for the Fall.

While the eBook is nice, with multiple videos and examples embedded in the text, I felt “my goodness, we sure are spoon feeding students these days.”  I told that to the publishers.  I also mentioned the equivalent of their eBook is available right now in print form.  On reserve at the library I have placed three textbooks and four Schaum’s outline series books with thousands of worked out example problems.  What’s the difference between looking at examples on a computer screen or going to the library to look at them?  We probably could go on and on about the pros and cons of both.  For now, let’s move on to dialectic reasoning about online vs. traditional learning.

  • Thesis: Today’s students are fine.  Today’s instruction needs adjustment.  You must adjust instruction methods to meet the new students of today.
  • Anti-thesis: Instruction is fine.  Today’s students need  to adjust.  Students need to get off of Facebook and get in the library with books from a diverse author base.
  • Synthesis: Students and instruction both need to adjust.

I must admit, I am in-between the “anti-thesis” and “synthesis” positions.  All this talk of “new students of today” reminds me of the “New Economy.”  I remember telling my boss after our startup was acquired in 2000  “our P/E ratio is 400, shouldn’t we sell our stock?”  His reply?  “Your MBA doesn’t apply anymore, this is a New Economy.”  We all know what happened after that.  The fundamentals returned. The stock market plummeted.

I see the same thing here with education.  Replace “New Economy” with “New Students” or “New instructional methods.” Fundamentals will return.  Students will have to spend time and study.

Let me throw one more dart at Facebook as I close.  Economic growth results from productivity enhancing technological innovation.   This is a Schumpetarian view on economic growth.  I ask, how has technological innovation such as Facebook enhanced anyone’s productivity?  Is there a connection between the productivity reducing technological progress called “social media” and lower economic growth?

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2 thoughts on “Some thoughts on recent developments in online education

  1. Publishers don’t have the best interests of the student’s education in mind. Selling books is in conflict for preparing students for the workforce, currently.

    My experience in college is that a majority of students are not interested in learning. Also, our online options are cumbersome, for lack of a better adjective.

    Pushing students is not the way to lead them. I recommend less focus on solving these problems, and more focus on creating a stellar online education experience. Pull the students by creating demand with a cool learning environment.

    Please don’t let publishers dictate our education.

  2. Yes very good analysis Dr. Moore. I believe with social media and the “new way” of learning really makes our visions very narrow. Although we are exposed to more information, it is handpicked for us and we as a society have lost analytical skills and the ability to see the bigger picture by letting our minds problem solve. We have become a society that now lacks creativity because we choose to think less. An example was a study on society where even though with the invention of GPS people were able to go to more places using the guided directions, but as a human sense of direction they became hopeless. It’s sad that we now take for granted what we are fed through our new inventions and rely less on our innovation and the ability to think.
    “The new way of learning” is the future, but we must format the learning tools so we are less spoon-fed and have projects where we must use problem solving skills. Unfortunately the more we are spoon-fed, the less we are willing to do. We must find a proper balance of learning and expanding our minds. Also some social media is on a downturn, Facebook CEO has recently admitted this, so hopefully we will regress to what has worked best for us and that is mixing the news ways with the old.

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