I need your help.
I believe we are at a crucial turning point in how teaching and learning occurs in colleges and universities. The traditional model of teaching -- whether in small seminar-style classes or large lecture halls -- is being torn apart. Whether we call it online learning, flipped classrooms, or digital learning technologies, I fundamentally believe that teaching and learning will be transformed in the coming years.
The problem is that as our traditional notions of teaching and learning become ever more diverse, there is no longer a notion of what "education" truly means. Can it be watching a Kahn Academy video? Doing a fully online program? Demonstrating competence through your prior work experience?
So, dear reader, what do you think? Have you taken an online course or gotten your degree in an online program? Have you signed up for a MOOC? Has your professor "flipped" the classroom?
I want to explore these and many related issues through a unique model: by carefully going through a just-released report from MIT through a series of blog postings. The report - the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education -- has been a year-long process for MIT as it thinks about and attempts to reinvent the future of education for its students.
I take this report as a case study for several reasons. Some are particular to me, as I have a sort-of-insider perspective since I am an MIT alum, was on the alumni advisory panel that contributed ideas to the folks who wrote the report, and was a visiting scientist this past year in MIT's Office of Digital Learning. So I have a fairly good sense of what's going on. But, more importantly, as an educational researcher, I believe that MIT has captured, perhaps uniquely, both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for colleges and universities.
I have been writing about this stuff for a while and have come to believe that we truly need to differentiate between the transmission of knowledge and the transformation of knowledge when we talk about teaching and learning. I have referred to this (perhaps a little too whimsically) as the difference between an apprenticeship into Wikipedia versus an apprenticeship into democracy.
My vision and hope is that the coming changes can revolutionize how we think about teaching and learning. My fear is that such transformation may destroy rather than save the best parts of what we think about as a quality education. The MIT report talks about both parts.
So my plan is to go through the report to help us think through what the future of education could truly look like.
Join me and add your thoughts, comments, and questions.
Follow Dan Butin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danbutin