Isn't it curious (or maybe just typical) that with all the mania around MOOC's (Massive Online Open Courseware), and all the "students today learn differently" talk, that there has been almost no conversation with students about (a) whether they would rather learn online or face to face or (b) how they learn best when they do learn online--lectures? interactives? quizzes? challenges? games? tutorials? augmented with social networks? augmented with actual study groups? New forms of assessment? If you do not include students in the conversation, you are merely replicating the hierarchical Sage-On-The-Stage model of pedagogy but on line. If students and learning are not intrinsically part of the MOOC conversation, then we're not talking education. We're talking $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Next year, in our new PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge, we'll be looking at an array of questions around digital learning, digital scholarship, digital research, and so forth---including talking with and working with actual, real students to think about what does or doesn't make for good online learning. I blogged last week about the course I'm teaching with Dan Ariely next Spring: http://hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2012/08/02/how-literature-teaches... Our dialogue, prompted by students reading social science experiments and literary works on the same theme, will be the basis for an open online course they create.
The rationale behind the production component of the class is to let students experiment with learning on line but also experiment with how they would express what they are learning to the public in the form of online course offerings, cast in different ways, with online reading and discussion groups, with actual experiments based on the social science in the course, and ways of forming online extended communities beyond the classroom. It's all a great educational experiment--and one that includes the students and allows students, graduate and undergraduates, to lead the design. Imagine that! That's not rhetorical. I mean it: let's try to imagine learning where the students are central, not peripheral, where their ideas are included not inferred, where their leadership and input is relevant, not assumed. Yes, imagine that!