Certainly history reminds us that products come and go but replacing
face-to-face education with online demonstrates a fundamentally different
product. Taking a course from an expert professor in a class of 6 is
fundamentally different than being in an online course with 5,000 people. One
will provide experiential learning, where your background and identity are
intertwined with new concepts and learning extends beyond a regurgitation of
acquiring facts. In well designed courses with expert professional teachers,
students learn how to think in new ways, they learn how to learn in new ways,
and the paths they can take with this new knowledge becomes exponential. The
possibility for learning and application becomes very dynamic. Instead, online learning for the masses is a much more linear and recall based
education. This fits well with the current focus on standardized testing. What a
person can do with the knowledge is not given value. You will notice that any
"creativity" performed in online courses, including blogs and
e-contact between peers, is a large effort to make online courses look like
face-to-face classes. Accepting basic genetics, learning is based on
interaction from birth and throughout life. Interaction with tools can be both
social and psychological. Cheapening the learning opportunities that the
definition of what a university is supposed to be or has been for centuries is
fundamentally different. Hybrid courses can help those in rural areas and such
obtain certain opportunities for learning not afforded them in any other way.
But having universities move to a Univ. of Phoenix model is fundamentally a
different product and way of learning. Having seen other research of
Christensen, I am quite certain he lacks a deep understanding concerning
learning, teaching, the transformation of the human mind, internalization of
knowledge, and self-regulation. Instead, he glosses over these type of
components of education and uses a widget product model where the education of
the mind is no different than kodak or steel mill products. Unfortunate
repercussions for education because his argument for business products is sound
enough and backed by history.
There are various arguments posed here against and supporting distance / online
education. As a distance education (DE) and face-to-face (F2F) instructor, for
profit and non-profit organizations, I would like to share some observations
I've had while teaching online and face:1. If you are motivated,
organized, and know technology, you have a better chance of succeeding and
mastering the content in DE and F2F.2. If you are shy and a somewhat
introverted or speak English as a second language, you may find your voice
online. F2F classes tend to benefit those who are confident in sharing their
opinion and/or speak English as their mother tongue or the language of that
learning system.3. The DE course can level the playing field for
students who tend to be quiet in the F2F course. Itâs actually quite
liberating to say whatâs on your mind without some students who can
domineer the F2F classroom. 4. The master online instructor in the
synchronous DE environment encourages those who don't speak to do so via the
Chat tool and surveys. If used properly and expectations set up clearly, you can
read chats much quicker and easier than waiting for the F2F students to respond.
Students can answer and see the survey results much quicker than in the F2F
format, too.5. The DE format allows the instructor to call on people
just like the F2F format via audio and/or webcam. In fact, because the DE format
tends to hide the instructors who are impatient, I've noticed that students
aren't as intimidated either to âspeakâ up.I'm not
saying that DE is the "killer app". What I am saying is that if used
properly DE can actually provide a wonderful way for students to learn in a
format that the F2F format could never fulfill. Students, who are motivated,
organized, and know technology, really benefit from the DE approach. For that
matter, those are skills needed to succeed in the F2F classroom. Sadly, statistics show that DE students fail to complete their online courses
at a higher rate than F2F. Where are the problems? It's the studentâs
fault for not keeping up properly. It's the instructor's fault for not engaging
and motivating students. When is the crucial time to help the students succeed?
At the beginning of the class semester and/or when the student signs up for the
course. Sustained progress is key. It's the institution's fault for either not
qualifying students to take the courses, not providing the proper student
support, and/or not caring enough for students to actually progress in a timely
fashion. Do I think DE should be the sole content environment? No.
Do I think the classroom should be eliminated? No. Use the best of
both worlds and make sure the students know what is expected of them and provide
the proper support for the students whether it's from the instructor and/or the
institution. Posting and reading these comments shows that there is
room for some aspect of Distance Education.
IF online education is the wave of the future, then we should be spending our
time researching better ways to deliver it and make sure the students are
learning what they need to learn. By the way, why is it that we now
talk about education as a marketplace? I would hope it is or will return to be
- so much more than that. Many things have become just commodities, to be
bought and sold in bulk. Thats what seems to be developing as a mindset within
higher education as well.America was historically filled with
hard-working innovators. I believe if we are to succeed in our education
endeavors, we need to continue to do just that, succeed in having the best
online education environment in the world. I cringe a bit when I hear people
say the online environment is easier. These are people who have taken (and
taught) both face-to-face and online courses. Dr. Christensens theories may be
right, but what is the take-home lesson? We need to be improving the online
experience so it is not inferior to traditional education.
Christensen is right on target -- and I have read several of his books.Most universities are dinosaurs and faculty members are self-serving and out
of touch with reality in many cases. I know. I am one. I am appalled by the
thinking of my peers, the accrediting bodies, and the associations of
professional educators who fail to keep pace.Disruptive innovation
is the key to successful change -- in education and in business enterprise."The significant problems we face cannot be resolved at the level
that we were at when we created them" Einstein told us. We need to rethink
our old assumptions -- but we will probably lack the insight or the moral
courage to do so!
@dave31While there are certainly some very large lecture courses in
college, the majority are not. At multiple universities, I think I only had one
in excess of 100 students. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Based on Dr. Christensen's track record, I wouldn't bet against him. Some of
the most successful, innovative companies in this country keep Dr. Christensen
on their payroll because of his unique, disruptive concepts. Read his books and
research documents and you'll be impressed. I have a son in medical
school and no textbooks are used, only e-books on iPads. Innovate or die
watching others take your place.
Sally is right about college GE courses being nothing more than a redundancy of
HS work. If it's new to you, you didn't pay attention in HS. If it's not new,
it's an expensive way to boost your GPA and feel good about your
"intelligence." A BS can be earned without all the unnecessary,
taxing GE "BS" that colleges require. There's way too much fluff. We
need to shorten the time it takes to earn a degree. Also, a degree may open
some doors of opportunity, but the real learning occurs afterward, once you cut
through all the bureaucracy of higher education. We need to simplify the whole
process. That's my take.
Don't think "disruptive innovation" is real, that it can't affect
education? Take a closer look.BYU Bookstore laid off 29 employees
on Friday. University of California, San Francisco recently shut the doors to
its bookstore and took everything online. University bookstores are fighting
"disruptive innovation" that comes from ebooks, Amazon, eBay, Chegg,
and many other places. The market for educational materials is changing because
companies can streamline operations, buy in bulk, and quickly change direction
as needed. Yet, bookstore administrators refuse to acknowledge this, watch the
decreasing sales, wonder what is happening, yet proclaim that students will
always "want the paper copy" or "will need us for
convenience."Extend this to the University level. If you think
technology isn't disrupting the traditional education model, think again.
Liberal education courses such as history, philosophy, art appreciation, etc.
are being replaced quickly by online courses. Teachers CAN teach courses live,
interact with students and answer questions- established, emerging and new
technologies are making this easier and easier. If university administrators
refuse to acknowledge this, the will watch decreasing enrollments while
proclaiming "students need a traditional classroom to learn."
College needs to be more than a repeat of high school courses. Teachers need to
be trained/educated in more depth in their major. Our children were more
educated/had more understanding of the subject than the teachers they had in
high school. The students would come to our children for answers when the
teacher had no clue. Teachers in college need to teach and test properly.
Testing should be used as a learning tool to review and learn from, not to give
trick questions to prove a teachers superiority. In other words, the purpose
needs to be, "master the subject, so everyone earns an A or M for mastery.
More hands on training and experience is needed in the workplace for students.
Then, when they complete college they are ready to accept a position in a
company. Sitting through a boring lecture from a foreigner with a accent that
you cannot understand may be OK for some folks, but for me it was snooze time.
Also, having teachers show up for classes would be helpful. Salt Lake Community
College and University of Utah have a problem with no show teachers. It's a
long drive for a no-show.
I hope the deniers of Clayton's theses retain the comments they made today. Look
at them again in about ten years. They should prepared to be embarrased that
they made them. It was interesting to read the comment about person-to-person,
professor-to-student contact in the classroom. Not much personal contact takes
place in a classroom of 100 or more students. About the only person-to-person
contact is TA-to-student contact.
@srw: Please cite your sources showing that college grads earn so much more than
non-grads. I'm willing to wager that NONE of those studies were conducted within
the past 5 years.The employment market in the US has changed. We
don't create anything here, the majority of us make a living by selling or
servicing what was created elsewhere. All the jobs requiring extensive knowledge
in a field or high level critical thinking skills have been outsourced. A
sales/service job may require some training, but it certainly does not require a
college degree. The problem is the market is currently overflowing
with graduates. We've got far more people with degrees than we do jobs requiring
them, which has devalued the degree to the point that it is now nearly
Did Dr. Christensen also tell you what the success rate of online classes are?
More than 50% don't complete the course. Very few get an A.I think online
teaching is a great option, but only those very dedicated succeed at it.Of course you could be like BYUI and think it's a good idea to have
someone with a degree in educational technology teach you about history,
biology, etc. If I'm paying tuition, even if it is an online course, I want
someone who has earned an advanced degree in that field to teach me. That's a
no-brainer if you ask me.
Mr. Christensen makes his living as an advocate for radical, disruptive change.
And the thesis always is that unless disruptive change occurs, the intitution or
company de jour will die. His thesis is one that is currently being tested in
the market place of ideas. Whether he is correct is still an open issue.
Likewise whether disruptive change is a good thing is being tried and tested in
the D-News and KSL reorganizations. I am not yet sure whether we should jump on
the Dr. Christensen bandwagon.
With all due respect to Dr. Christensen, students watching a recorded lecture
online, or even a live lecture online, does not take the place of in-person
professor-to-student interaction. A master teacher looks into his students
eyes, he reads their body language, he adapts to the ebb and flow of the energy
and dynamic in the room. A master teacher calls on people by name, especially
the ones on the back row who want to hide out. This doesn't and can not happen
in online instruction to the masses. If you goal is to compartmentalize your
teaching, package it like a product, and ship it out like a pre-baked doughnut
to be stocked at multiple convenience store gas stations across the country,
then fine. Use technology to broadcast to thousands of people you will never
meet, and never truly teach. You can lecture at them, but you will never truly
be able to teach to them.
It seems to me that as a higher percentage of the population came to hold a
college degree, more jobs required that qualification, just because they could
fill their positions with degree holders. However, to make any sense of
DeltaFoxtrot's comment, I have to say that most degrees do not prepare one for a
specific job, learning is generally still required.The recent
bankruptcy of Eastman Kodak underscores exactly what Mr. Christensen is saying,
to my mind; and thank you, DN, for his reference to MIT's online beginning
physics course, I could use a refresher.
"According to Harvard business professor and Utah native Clayton
Christensen, all but one of the nation's large, integrated steel mills, such as
Geneva, were driven from the business by smaller, more adaptable
"mini-mills," such as Nucor Steel in Tremonton."Uh,
wrong.The U.S. steel industry was primarily affected by cheaper
steel production in the third world, mostly China. And that was possible due to
significantly lower labor costs.Further, based on economies of
scale, mass production provides a greater model towards reduced cost per
unit.Good try, though. But, of course, whatever Clayton
Christensen says has to be true because he's a Harvard professor.
DeltaFoxtrot said, "Now that there are so few jobs available that require
degrees people are slowly realizing that higher education is a huge
scam."As reported in the DesNews last July-September,Unemployment in the U.S., July 2011:4.3% for workers with at least a
bachelorâs degree9.3% for those with only a high school diploma15% for those who didnât finish high schoolWorkers with a
degree or certificate earn 75% more than those with only a high school diploma,
on average.Workers with a bachelorâs degree earn $650,000 more
during their careers than those with only a high school diploma, on average.The pay is much higher because those workers are *in demand*.The U.S. needs more college-educated workers.
I have taken an online course and I hated it. I want to have the in person
experience. That said, there are ways to use internet resources to enhance
education, but I think the classroom should survive.
ALL higher education must adapt or die. Now that there are so few jobs available
that require degrees people are slowly realizing that higher education is a huge