Summary: Work in neuroscience, behavioural psychology and education research has led to significant insights into what works for learning − insights that are even more important and, surprisingly, easier to implement, in the online world.
Original author and publication date: Daphne Koller – June 28, 2021
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Are we moving into an education without exams and without degrees? It could well be.
From the article:
It’s no secret that the sudden shift to an online teaching format left many students feeling disengaged and instructors struggling to connect with their students. And although it might seem that the answer is to return to “normal”, for most students, “normal” was far from optimal. Many courses host dozens of students in large lecture halls, and students often quickly tune out; “distance learning” effectively starts from the third row.
But even that experience is far from universally available. In the US, 74 per cent of undergraduates are non-traditional students − studying while working, serving as caregivers or some other commitment. For those students and others, online learning offers much-needed flexibility. Indeed, 73 per cent of college students would prefer to take some fully online courses post-pandemic.
Worldwide, many people cannot participate in traditional educational experiences because of their life circumstances. Online learning has the potential to enable many more people to transform their lives and open the door to social and economic mobility.
Coursera, which I co-founded in 2011, was built towards this vision of access, and the impact has been greater than I ever anticipated: more than 77 million learners, spanning every country, age group and demographic, are learning with Coursera. Access to education has enabled many learners to transform their lives − people such as Sharmeen Shehabuddin from Bangladesh, who was able to emerge from a life of poverty by taking Wharton business courses and ultimately gained admission to a top international business school.
However, those benefits predominantly accrued to course completers, and successful completion came most often to those learners who were more motivated and with better study skills; the learners who were most in need of help were often left behind.
We have found that even given the flexibility of online courses, guidance and support are crucial. A failed experiment to increase flexibility by removing all course deadlines resulted in much lower completion rates, as indefinite procrastination became the default. Completion rates remain persistently low even among learners with intent to complete, and attempts to increase them have had limited impact.
Fortunately, work in neuroscience, behavioural psychology and education research has led to significant insights into what works for learning − insights that are even more important and, surprisingly, easier to implement, in the online world.
One early experiment is tutored video instruction (TVI), pioneered by Stanford’s Jim Gibbons. Rather than having remote students watch videotaped lectures in their own time, small groups watched the videos together, along with a facilitator who regularly paused the video for interactive discussion. The results were surprising.