You've probably heard about "Flipping the Classroom" -- letting students input information by listening to lectures and reading at home, then allowing them to lead discussion and solve problems collaboratively in class.
In David Brooks' New York Times piece yesterday on MOOCs, The Practical University, he suggests the same kind of model, on a higher degree: The student's entire college education. He suggests that online learning can only cover "technical knowledge" - the kind of facts and how-to's covered by the reading and lecture homework in the flipped classroom model. Then, once students have used online education to cover the basic data required for their degree, they'll come to campus for practical knowledge -- which, according to Brooks, is "not about what you do, but how you do it" - it's absorbed, not memorized.
"The problem is that as online education becomes more pervasive, universities can no longer primarily be in the business of transmitting technical knowledge. Online offerings from distant, star professors will just be too efficient. As Ben Nelson of Minerva University points out, a school cannot charge students $40,000 and then turn around and offer them online courses that they can get free or nearly free. That business model simply does not work. There will be no such thing as a MOOC university."
"The goal should be to use technology to take a free-form seminar and turn it into a deliberate seminar (I’m borrowing Anders Ericsson’s definition of deliberate practice). Seminars could be recorded with video-cameras, and exchanges could be reviewed and analyzed to pick apart how a disagreement was handled and how a debate was conducted. Episodes in one seminar could be replayed for another. Students could be assessed, and their seminar skills could be tracked over time."
Ultimately, Brooks states that the focus right now is to make online education an effective delivery model for technical knowledge, but not practical (in other words, it's about transmitting facts, rather than getting students to reason, interact, and evolve). This leads me to wonder, has he been listening to the same conversation about MOOCs that I have? I think there are many out there talking about how to make MOOCs interactive and student-led in the same way that good classroom pedagogy drives student engagement and participation. (For instance, this semester I often sit in on Cathy Davidson and Dan Ariely's meta-MOOC, Surprise Endings, at Duke, in which the students pose questions, drive class discussion, and even edit videos of the class to create MOOC units for the general public.) And if this is the case, you don't have to use online teaching to get learning (memorization) out of the way - you can use it to make learning meaningful.
Of course, people are still searching for these answers. Do you know of any great resources on how to do so? If so, post the link below.