Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The future of higher ed: an alternative view

Brian Caplan & LeBron have been discussing online higher ed vs. brick and mortar higher ed.

I believe that the future of higher ed is brick and mortar.

 I don't think bad lectures are what is holding back students (self-serving perhaps). It's actually just LECTURES that hold them back, whether they are in a classroom on online.

Kids don't learn a ton, don't retain what they learn, and struggle to apply what they've learned.

I am becoming convinced that "peer instruction" or "the flipped classroom" is the way to go. This approach combines classroom work with online work, but the main thing it does is take the lecture out of the classroom.

Students do required reading or watch a required video before the class and then take a pre-class quiz on the material. Instructors use that feedback to generate discussion questions and instant feedback quizzes to help students work out their issues with the material. Instructors can pair up students who are getting it right with those getting it wrong for some peer to peer instruction.

Eric Mazur of Harvard is the guru of this approach. Mrs. A and I are hoping to transition onto his bandwagon. Here's a link to an article about Mazur.  Here's a link to an excellent blogpost on how the method can work.


Anonymous said...

And here's a visual aid:


Gerardo said...

Where is "fear" on that pyramid?

Anonymous said...

They say "college is not for everyone." This is true because using a normal distribution, the students who are in the left/right tails are not college material because they are either too smart or too dumb/lazy.

Personally, I have scored in the top 1% of every standardized test I've ever taken. I have the work ethic of a workaholic to boot. If it weren't for online classes (working at my own pace), I would have never gone back to college for my BS or MS (in progress).

As a result of this, the people I have courses with are some of the most eclectic and intelligent people I've ever met. I am pursuing an MS in Entrepreneurship online at Western Carolina University instead of an MBA at UNC-Asheville because the thought of sitting in a classroom for 3 hours to learn concepts I can comprehend in 30 minutes is a waste of time for me. This is not an exaggeration either as my wife went through the MBA program and her friends would call me late at night asking me to help them with their MBA homework. The brick/mortar classes I have taken in the past have bored me to tears.

The layperson needs to have structure where they are required to be in a room for two hours on a certain day of the week because they lack the discipline to manage their time effectively and get things done without being "supervised" by a professor.

However, there are a few people I could listen to lectures for hours on end because they have interesting, unique things to say, such as Milton Friedman and Clayton Christensen.

John Thacker said...

Required reading and a pre-class quiz via computer? Dan Graham at Duke has been doing that for years; he did it when I took the intermediate micro class from him in 1999 or thereabouts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I agree that something needs to change but it won't be education becoming a fully digital experience. I just enrolled in Duke's Cross Continent MBA (http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/programs/duke_mba/cross_continent/) and I hope to get the best of both worlds by having limited lectures and more remote class work.

Anonymous said...

A good video on California tuition/education situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5jNK0IKdfg

Julie said...

A 3-4 minute tutorial on Mazur's Peer Instruction (a method he developed in the early 1990s) http://ed.ted.com/on/g0Sd2mG7