There’s so much talk about preparing students to solve problems that the world can’t yet imagine, but how are we going to do that? Design is a wonderful framework for promoting the skills that leaders and innovators need, including things like empathy, collaboration, persisting through failure, and comfort with ambiguity.
A user-experience team shadowing college students might seek to understand details such as: How do students approach registering for classes? Do the class times offered meet their needs? Do they have the data necessary to make informed decisions? How much are they paying for textbooks? What do students understand about the financial-aid system? Is it intuitive or confusing?
Because the first thing that students have to get is not the Ten Greatest Artists of all time on some canonical list. No one is going to be harmed for life if she doesn’t cover Rubens. But if that kid walks out of the class thinking “people like me aren’t artists”, they cannot and will not succeed. You’ve done real harm.
- Mike Caulfield, “New Directions in Open Education“
A good teacher judiciously moves back and forth between tricks to elicit student interest and space for students to motivate themselves, all with the long-term goal of building intrinsic motivation.
- Kentaro Toyama, on Gamification in Higher Ed
I believe very strongly in students being able to read and write very well but I think we need to expand what we mean by reading and writing to include these new media forms. And we need a level of media literacy that includes a sophistication about how to use what media form, when, why and also when to shut it all and to have a moment to really think through it all properly.
And they are fundamentally asking not “is college worth it?” but “who should go to college among those in the bottom 50%?” and “what should we pay for those people to go?” Because if education cost nothing to provide, the question would be moot. In the 21st Century, it’s notable that these same curious people are not asking “Is high school worth it?” even though high school dropout remains a problem and of course it costs money to offer high school as well. What is so magical about the 12th year of education versus the 14th? Absolutely nothing. So why is “worthiness” asked of the 14th year? Because the country simply hasn’t gotten around to providing a free public option.
A few weeks ago, I delivered a webinar with colleagues on the design of MOOCs as part of a series, MOOCs by Design. The basic premise of our presentation is that the sheer diversity of the audience in MOOCs creates a number of design challenges.
When designing a “traditional” online credit course, certain assumptions can be made about the learners, no matter how diverse the student body, given the homogenizing effect of the application process, the incentives and costs associated with credit, and the standards of rigor and credentialing established by the disciplines. In contrast, learners in MOOCs undergo no such homogenizing process, and enter the experience with incredibly diverse educational backgrounds, English language proficiencies, access to technologies, and motivations. The diversity of MOOC learners create, then, a number of design challenges.
We suggest several ways to navigate those challenges in the presentation, with the overall guidance that it is best to design a MOOC oriented around the institutional priorities, but that affords as many options and pathways for students as possible.