Online education – is this the future?

Daphne Koller provides some very strong evidence that the future of university-level education must incorporate online components.  There has been so many recent announcements about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and universities collaborating with Coursera, EdX and Udacity amongst others that university faculty really do need to wake up and pay attention.

Education is changing

There’s been a lot of movement recently around how higher education can deliver more efficient and effective education. While I am a big proponent of in-class, face-to-face education the reality is is that we’re using that valuable time very poorly in most cases. We must rethink how we use that time with students to really develop skills and knowledge that they cannot learn on their own with the appropriate support including video, textbooks etc. Sal Khan demonstrates exactly this. If you’re interested in seeing where education in general is headed have a watch. I would love to hear your comments about this as well. Do you think this is the next wave or some ill-guided fad?

Kill Powerpoint. Long live dancing!

This is a great example of using arts to express difficult science concepts. John Bohannon suggests that we should stop mis-using Powerpoint and wasting hours of everyone’s time, be a bit more creative and deliver a much more effective message. If you’re an educator, a researcher, or a lover of arts you’ll truly appreciate this TED talk.

The importance of human touch in community

Dr. Abraham Verghese tells wonderful stories of how important human touch is when diagnosing patients and later care with those patients. He claims that the shift towards technology in medicine has eroded a very important, but simple aspect–human touch. I wonder if we’re missing that human contact in higher education these days? Classes of 200-1,000 students, hybrid or online delivery. Where and how do we build connections and relationships with each other?

Counting, GDP and Happiness

A double-video post! The first is a very short speech (~1967) by Robert Kennedy about what is included in GDP and what is excluded. He’s got some great points that suggest GDP is a very poor metric.

The second video is a TED talk by Chip Conley (2010) about finding ways to measure what really matters. He uses the example of Bhutan and their movement to think about GNH (Gross National Happiness) versus GDP. I was made aware of GNH about five years ago but didn’t really understand it. As Chip explains, Bhutan is not trying to make everyone in the country happy, rather they are trying to ensure that the conditions to allow happiness to be experienced are in place. Let me put a teaching/learning flavour on that to close: Professors/teachers cannot require that learning happens but we can ensure that we create an environment that encourages learning.

A bit more risque than usual

Thanks to Carlene (great foodie blog btw!) for this one. Philip Zimbardo does a very quick and provocative (but PG rated) discussion of what pressures males are facing and the impact on their education and relationships. If you’re a guy or know a guy watch this, I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the behaviours he mentions. He leaves us hanging without a real solution though, perhaps you can post a few via a comment?

World Hunger + Management Thinking = Potential Solution

An inspiring video about the results of world hunger on brain development and implications for education.  Josette provides evidence that simple management practices can solve world hunger, there is no excuse for us to sit by idly.  We need to be innovative, but solutions are within reach.  If you’re wondering how you can make a difference in the world, this would seem to be an area with tremendous potential.