In the news this week: the “flipped” classroom, in which the homework assignment is to watch a video of a lecture, and students spend class time working through the kinds of exercises that normally constitute “homework,” with their peers and their teacher available to help.
The flipped classroom raises questions about the value of, and possibilities for, classes that are entirely online. It’s a hot topic these days: back in August, the Pew Center released a study comparing the bullish outlook of university presidents to those of a more skeptical public, and The Chronicle of Higher Education looked ahead to what the next revolution in online learning might be.
More recently, the U.S. Department of Education released a study calculating the increase in online enrollments since 2000. Bill Siemens’s Tech Therapy podcast argues in favor of massive and free online courses, such as the ones that Stanford is currently offering. (Or, perhaps, like the explosion of short video lessons available at the Khan Academy.) On the other side of the debate, Jeb Bush and Jim Hunt, both of whom work for a company that contracts with universities to put their courses online, argued that online courses should be not just a source of opportunity for hard-to-reach students but also a source of revenue for struggling universities. That may be, but it wouldn’t hurt to improve financial oversight of online courses: Education Week covers the investigation into Colorado’s failure to control its online schools.
At The New York Times, Bill Keller wonders, along with Stanford’s president, about the on-campus experience that gets lost in the hype over online learning. At Inside Higher Ed, Johann N. Neem agrees: everyone seems to be forgetting “the importance of institutional culture in shaping how people learn. College is about more than accessing information; it’s about developing an attitude toward knowledge.”