At the heart of Hamilton's critique is, broadly, who should determine the application of online technologies to higher education: administrators, or faculties. I'll clumsily try to summarise how Hamilton contrasts the two:
|"Think": Brian Siewiorek, Flickr|
- Inevitability of change toward efficiency and access
- CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction) and automation
- The virtual university
- xMOOCs (illustrative of paradigm)
Faculties: Maintaining freedom and tradition
- Harnessing technologies to extend traditional academic role
- Experimentation based on faculty-driven innovation
- Blended learning (online and on-campus)
- cMOOCs (illustrative of paradigm)
In my view Hamilton polarises things unhelpfully; my personal view is very much between these extremes in ways more nuanced than Hamilton permits. Not all with backgrounds in distance education or wanting to see education more efficient, for example, would like to champion the xMOOC! I am convinced, though, that Hamilton's core thesis is the correct one: technology is ambivalent. Any agendas for online education are formed by us, so the question in the title of this blog is a very important one. What is your vision for online education?
I'd like to challenge you, dear reader, to give some thought to this - and feedback your own vision. Here's my own starter:
My vision for online education starts with a firm sense of education itself: the opportunity to broaden how one thinks, tailored to the theories and practices of an academic discipline. Online education is at its best where academics provide a subject with its voice; learning designers provide it with structure and support the development of learning activities; and students are required to learn the discourse of each subject as they develop interdependence of thought with other conversants. I think online education should be concerned with the cognitive development of students, in the context of a qualification-oriented learning journey, exercised at scale.
Thoughts, on what is surely one of the more important considerations of online education...?