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Larry Cooperman: El futuro de la educación virtual

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You know, 15 years ago it was the early days of distance education and, I used to tell a joke. In fact, it got picked up by business 2.0 which was that, distance education is really like teenage sex. Everyone says they're doing it, most of them aren't and those that are, aren't doing it well. But you know what, it's fifteen years later, and we really do it well now. Distance education at the early days, the technology didn't work, the professors didn't know how to teach, the materials weren't appropriate. But now, actually, fifteen years later, universities around the world are doing it well. So what's the problem? The problem is that the university system can't accommodate the crush of students seeking higher education. I'll give one example. In Nigeria, 88% of Nigerian applicants to higher education have no space available to them. There is no space for 88% to apply. This problem is getting worse. So for example in South Saharan Africa the current rate of admission is 6% to higher education. But it's increasing, actually its the fastest growing rate of entry into higher education in the world today, at 9% per year. But we have around a hundred and sixty million students right now. But in 15 years we're going to have two hundred and sixty million. So the question becomes, how are we going to build two universities of thirty thousand students each each week for the next 14 years? UNESCO calls us a massification of education. There's a second problem that comes out of this. First of all, we should remember that universities used to be only elite systems. So over time, they've been changing to educate larger and larger numbers. And in fact, to solve the problems of the world, we need systems of mass higher education. But as more and more students have come in at an accelerating rate, we don't even have enough professors to teach them. So distance education can be seen as the first way that we responded to the increased numbers of students. It's a partial response. And as I said before, we do it well now. There is distance education in every spot imaginable on the earth. The African Virtual University provides distance education in a two fifty universities throughout Africa, and they find that some of their university partners, don't have an internet connection. Well, there is a satellite link right there. They find that they don't have electricity. There's the generator. They find that professors don't have the training, and that the professors themselves have to begin to write materials for the African students. There is the training they provide to the professors in Zambia. And here's the result, the result is that students here in Mozambique are able to learn at a distance in a computer lab. One year after completing a program for secondary math and science teacher preparation, the African Virtual University has 4000 students enrolled throughout Africa in this program. So let's stop for a second and think about what we really need. We have to begin to imagine a world in which anyone could learn anything anywhere anytime for free. And this is the promise of open education. The Open CourseWare Consortium has a website in which its two hundred and fifty members post their eighteen thousand courses. So we're beginning to build the infrastructure. I should say, that we're in the early days of open education. We're beginning to build the infrastructure. It doesn't quite work yet. But we're beginning with projects like these, to let anybody say, I want to study Chemistry, give me a list of all the courses you have available in Chemistry, and let me select from them. Okay, so we're beginning to see that that course catalog has courses associated with it that we can walk in and watch and be there. But there are other barriers to open education and to higher education. Textbooks cost a lot. In fact, textbooks cost more in Latin America than they do in the United States, and American students are screaming loudly about the costs of textbooks. So we can announce that one of the legs of this open education movement has to be the provisioning of free or low-cost textbooks throughout the world. Well you can marry that course from University of California Irvine to the Organic Chemistry textbook that was produced by the African Virtual University. And there's many more open textbooks on virtually every subject you can think about. Again, we're on the early days, but this is accelerating as well. Okay, so we have content, and we have the textbook problem, we know how to solve it at least. But, you know, learning is social. We learn from each other. So we have to say, what do we do to allow people to learn as part of distance learning in social groups? but as part of open education to make that freely available to everybody. So here's an initial project that now has a community of about 30000 associated with it. We started with seven courses two years ago and now there's over a hundred. We started with 70 participants and now we have thirty thousand. Think of it as a global study hall. Or another way of looking at it is, as a web community, if Wikipedia is about information and content P2PU is the Wikipedia of learning. So, you know, we teach introduction to Biology in every country across the globe at every university, introduction to Biology is frankly the same or it better be the same. Why can't students in that Biology course have twenty four by seven support from a cohort that's working on the same subject at the same time? So, P2PU is trying to think through these issues. And they know that learning is more than about a single course and an individual course. It's about a path. It's about taking a learner from point A to point B to realize their dreams. That's what point B is. So P2PU has started schools. The idea of schools, and the first school they did was with the Mozilla foundation, and it's called the school of webcraft. And it began with about 35 courses and hundreds of students. But think about why this is a great thing. First of all, if you want a computer science degree, you aren't going to get the courses that are offered here which are in CSS, HTML5, open web standards. These courses may actually be more appropriate for someone who walks in the door and asks for a job in a web enterprise. Because they're teaching the technologies in use now. And that's the other part about peer learning. It's besides the individual courses that somebody is taking, there is a community at all time, and a school like this can actually make it possible for somebody to get a job in the future. But also we need to transfer to university credit. Let me give an example where this is already happening. In Indonesia, Aptacom is a consortium of IT departments at universities, at 170 universities. They have lots of open courses, they found out there was a problem that nobody was using these courses, that there was no use. There was content and no users. What they did, and this is brilliant, is they said, you can transfer open learning to university credit. Why was this important? because all of a sudden, the government said that 30% of the degree could consist of open learning, and the number of users just took off in Indonesia as a result of this. How did they make that transfer to university credit? How did they know that someone has learned something? They gave them a test. So knowledge assessment becomes important as a mechanism of testing what somebody has learned through open learning. And P2PU is doing a similar kind of thing in a different way. They're handing out badges. So for example, in our example of the web industry, it's more than knowledge, it's more than skills and PHP. It's actually the ability to work in a group, and to make contributions, and so they hand out badges, for knowledge, skills, and attitude, and who decides these things? at P2PU, the course organizers decide on how a course is offered, or whether a course is offered. The course, the class participants, not students, the participants, the peers, are working with each other to award points in the class and to award those badges to say, this is something that was a really excellent contribution. And if we think about this future where it's all available all of a sudden, we have to think, what is the future of the university? The way I see it, is there's going to be a formal sector, and an informal sector, and they're going to play off against each other, in a healthy way. First of all, peer learning, it turns out, is more effective than lectures. In studies, in 15 separate studies, of science, technology, engineering, and math education, they found consistently that peer led teams were more effective than lectures. So all of a sudden we see that P2PU can make a contribution in terms of the style of pedagogy to the university itself. Universities aren't going to go away. First of all, they perform the research function, and that's absolutely a critical function and that's not going to go away anytime in the near future. What will change is the idea that we're going to get people that will just be presenters of content, of the same introduction to Biology class that's already been presented ten thousand times. So this is now a way in which the university works this way: you have your friends in your classroom and you're working with them in class, instead of listening to me, you're all together in groups, and we've got applications of what you just learned. We've got case studies that you're discussing. And then, when you go home, there is your group outside the university, that's ready to work as well when you don't understand something, you contact them for help. You maybe set up an hour where everybody's working at the same time, through video conferencing. So, the question I have now, is you have to think of yourself ten years in the future. And you have to ask yourself what's your future educational path? and how would you go about starting to take advantage of open education as your own educational path. Thanks very much.

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 58 seconds
Country: Colombia
Language: English
Producer: TEDxMedellín
Director: TEDxMedellín
Views: 244
Posted by: anitartu on Jul 18, 2011

TEDxMedellín

El evento de carácter mundial realizado en la ciudad, tiene como nombre TEDxMedellín “Mentes Brillantes” y hace relación a la innovación, teniendo a la ciudad como centro de cerebros e inteligencias, que están actuando en un medio propicio para que se gesten las nuevas ideas que tendrán un impacto inmediato en el mejoramiento de la calidad de vida de nuestra sociedad y cuya fuerza tiene o tendrá una repercusión a nivel global.

Larry es mentor de la Universidad P2P (Peer-to-Peer University) la cual es la más extensa comunidad educativa en línea a nivel global, inspirada en la filosofía de intercambio libre de contenidos en la red. Indudablemente una de las autoridades en el tema que hablará sobre el futuro de la educación virtual en el mundo.

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