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Challenges and Remodeling for Teachers’ Role at MOOC Era

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Challenges and Remodeling for Teachers’ Role at MOOC Era
M & D FORUM
Challenges and Remodeling for Teachers’ Role at MOOC Era
ZHANG Dan
Media School, Wuhan Textile University, P.R.China, 430200
Abstract: As massive open online courses—MOOC springs up, a series of serious challenges are
brought to for the teachers’ position and role. In response to challenges of the MOOC era, the teachers’
transformation on educational teaching idea, accelerating the change of teachers’ role and vigorously
enhancing information-based teaching ability must be the three key points as the teachers’
comprehensive capacity and quality to realize the reshaping of the teacher’s role.
Keywords: MOOC, Teachers’ role, Challenge, Remodeling
Introduction
Massive Open Online Courses, also called MOOC, is a new curriculum model occurred in the open
education fielding recent years. Upon generation of MOOC in just a few years, it likes a storm sweeping
the whole globe, and more than six million students spread more than 220 countries all over the world as
the greatest educational innovation after the invention of the printing, and many learners even predict
that higher education in the future will be replaced by MOOC. Under the impact of MOOC, more and
more traditional higher institutions will lose their existing positions and roles. Sebastian Thrun, the
survey expert in Stanford University and the co-founder of Udacity, has claimed that “after 50 years
there will be only 10 universities left to continue their higher institution.” [1] Then what on earth kind of
curriculum model is? Why does it bring so much impact to the global education? What challenges do
MOOC bring back to teachers? And how a teacher responds these series of conundrums brought by
MOOC and stands firm in such an enormous wave to avoid the risk of being marginalized or even being
substituted. These questions will be inevitably an important question we have to focus along with the
strong attack by the MOOC.
1 The Connotation of the MOOC and Analysis of Its Major Characteristics
The name of MOOC raised by Canadian scholars, Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander in 2008. in
September of the same year, the other two Canadian scholars, George Siemens and Stephen Downes
applied this concept to opening a real MOOC course: “connectivism and knowledge of connectivity”,
and the course attracted 25 internal students and 2,300 online students free of charge. The MOOC
course has been officially born from then on and has sprung up all over the world like mushrooms and
swept several countries including China. It’s even called the first year of MOOC.
About the definition of MOOC, people take its literal meaning, namely, large-scale, opening, online
learning courses, however on its connotation, people have different opinions. On September 6, 2012, the
word in Wikipedia was defined as “a kind of course participating and distributing in different countries,
and such course materials are also distributed in the network”; and “the course is open, the bigger in
scale, the better it runs”. On September 20, 2012, such definition was evolved as: “a kind of online
course with open access and massive participation for the purpose.” Some scholars summarize the main
characteristics of MOOC course as follows: [2] it is a kind of course mode, thus has a relatively complete
curriculum structure (curriculum goals, coordinator, topic, schedules, assignments, etc.), that is generally
not discussed in the network topic; it’s also a form of open education, no limit in number of people, time
and place. All resources and information in the course is open, and all can be transmitted through
network; it’s a huge course that large numbers of people participate. The learners for course can reach up
to thousands of people to access of huge amounts of resources. Learners can use a variety of tools or
participate in learning with the platform according to their own habits and preferences, such as wiki,
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blogs, social networking sites, etc. As the course is not limited to a particular platform, it embodies that
MOOC is an open and personalized learning environment. It is a kind of generative curriculum,
providing only a small amount of learning materials at first, and learners acquire knowledge mainly
through a particular field for topic discussion, group activities, thinking and communication.
MOOC can be seen as a course model based on information technology and large, open and online
learning as the main way based on the network with a complete structure curriculum from its descriptive
characteristics. Besides the basic characteristics with “massive”, “open” and “online”, etc., MOOC also
has the following some core features compared with the traditional and the general network curriculum.
First of all, the theoretical basis of MOOC is a learning theory of connectivism, emphasizing that
knowledge is a network connection and learning is the process of connecting special nodes and
information source. [3] It provides an assembly point through technical means and teaching design for the
distribution of the Internet in vast amounts of information everywhere, and gathers these messages for
learners, then promotes association study, resources sharing and knowledge reengineering between each
other through a variety of ways [4].
Secondly, curriculum idea of MOOC is learners’ center and designing it according to the learners’ study
path; be more prominent in the learners’ autonomy on the way to learn, in which learners can choose
their courses, independently in the objective of their course, in the process of their study and the way,
thus realizing the course concept to the center of the learners.
Thirdly, the learning process of MOOC emphasizes the bilateral interaction; it breaks the single mode
taught only by teachers traditionally. The MOOC realizes the interaction between teachers and students
and among the students themselves through the interactive technology and the platform, which makes
learners stimulate innovative sparks in collision and generates as well as constructs their own knowledge
structure autonomously.
MOOC embodies the modern advanced educational and teaching idea because of these deep features. It
forms the distinct reflection with the traditional course, which received widespread welcome. However,
the MOOC is still facing a series of challenges for the healthy development, and more difficult
especially for teachers—the soul and center of the curriculum implementation.
2 MOOC Brings Challenges for Teachers’ Role
From the current situation set up by MOOC, most of the courses are provided by university professors
and basically belongs to the teaching method of instructor-led. In addition to making micro-video for
giving lectures, teachers will participate in guiding the discussion interaction, design work and the test
mechanism among students. So, a MOOC course cannot be successful without a high level of teachers
and the positive role of the team, and visibly, the MOOC era needs teachers, on the contrary, teachers’
guidance and participation is a necessary condition of the curriculum implementation. But, under the
background of MOOC, the teachers’ role will be changed deeply and the traditional one will be faced
with a huge challenge. It embodies as following aspects:
2.1 On relations between students and teachers, the teacher’s role is required to change from “a
leading star” to “a director”
Under the traditional model of teaching, the university education is mainly dominated by teachers and
teaching activities focus on the teacher’s “teaching”, teachers as the source of knowledge and authority,
give plays to their skills of preaching, knowledge and solutions, they are the knowledge of the absolute
authority in the control of the teaching material, teaching contents, the learning space and the right of
speech for students’ learning quality. In MOOC platform, however, the center of learning is changed
from teachers to students and students are no longer the passive receivers of knowledge, but actively
participate in the constructive process of knowledge. Teachers are no longer just information experts and
knowledge authority, and their roles are from the content providers to environmental designers, they will
not only have to choose and design the teaching content carefully, but design the teaching interactive
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link and evaluation methods, and actively participate in the interaction between teachers and students,
which become partners for students to learn, such as exploring new knowledge and acquiring new skills,
also providers of solving problems and supporting service in learning.
2.2 On teacher’s manner of working, the teachers’ role is required to change from “individualistic
heroism” to “teamwork”
For a long time, under the teaching mode of a traditional university, teachers have always adopted the
way of working with personal workshop-style, independently completing a curriculum of designing,
preparation, teaching, correcting students’ homework, mentoring and so on with the significant features
of individual labor, and as lack of enough collaboration communication among teachers, which can
easily lead to a large number of low level, repetitive work with full of educational field [5]; and MOOC
is a kind of brand-new education mode of operation. In this mode, only depending upon a teacher’s
ability cannot adapt to the requirement of MOOC, it must depend on teachers’ teamwork and use a
different teachers in the whole teaching process acted as a particular role, such as the speaker teachers of
the curriculum, mentors, research assistant, support service assistant for students study, etc. These
different teachers play the roles both in focus and close cooperation on the division of labor. A MOOC
needs the course design teams to pour into a lot of time and energy at the early stage in order to attract
students from all over the world to participate in the course of learning and meet the learners’ individual
needs of learning. Before the commencement of the lecture, a teacher needs to spend a lot of time in
making carefully preparation before class, and in the process of the course, he or she also needs to spend
more time per week for mentoring students and a variety of problems encountered in the process of
learning. And it also needs a certain amount of mentors and students’ analyst in learning situation
analysis also need to be equipped so as to timely track the feedback of students’ learning process and
provide an effective help in time, too. In the process of curriculum, the design team also makes a
dynamic adjustment of the curriculum design in time according to the students’ learning data analysis
and feedback and constantly meets the individual learning needs of the students.
2.3 On the basic function of the teacher, the teacher’s role is required to change from the teacher
to the researcher
Although teachers do some scientific research work under the background of the traditional university
teaching, for teachers, engaging in teaching work and educating students should be its basic functions.
The main task of a teacher is to impart knowledge, especially in the non-research universities. And
under the background of MOOC, teachers require to be participated in the teaching as the identity of
researchers because knowledge is uncertain and generative; moreover, in teaching of MOOC, a teacher
only accounts for a small part of time in lecturing and leaves most of time for teaching activities
between teachers and students. A teacher, besides the preliminary micro-video interpretation, will spend
the most of time in creating a good situation for interaction between teachers and students and promote
students to participate in the interaction, even in which turn the most of face-to-face teaching into a
common exploration in research, and control the teaching effect of the course at any time and provide
students timely with tests, feedback and analysis of each student’s learning needs and learning effect for
the targeted personalized guidance, thus improve the effect of classroom teaching. This is a new
challenge for us teachers, and therefore, teachers should give priority to study under the background of
MOOC, trying to explore to create new knowledge, enhance the ability of teaching, to heighten their
own knowledge reserves, accelerate the level of integrating technology into the teaching, thus promoting
college changed its organization from teaching institutions into production of knowledge for the
incubator of the exploration and innovation.
2.4 On teacher’s capability and quality, the teacher’s role is required to change from an academic
professional to a composite talent of academy and technology
Under the traditional teaching mode of universities, teachers can be very good control of the course and
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complete the function of knowledge, as long as they master the basic theory and deep and profound
specialized knowledge and understand the general teaching skills because the technological means is
very single. However, under the background of the MOOC, due to the large amounts of registered
student sources, big differences both in knowledge structure and foundations as well as needs and
motivations, therefore, the starting point of teaching is also quite different. Teachers must carefully
select the teaching content according to these characteristics of students to suit for network transmission,
and meet the needs of different students so as to facilitate more students to study. In addition, the
students’ learning is determined for a certain disorienting because of the open and generative
characteristics of MOOC, so it also needs to strengthen the correct guidance of the teacher to avoid
students’ high dropout rates because of the lack of guidance and supports. Moreover, most of MOOC
process depends on the interaction between teachers and students and among the students themselves,
the teacher must grasp the design of the interactive links under the background of network technology
and the technological means both for online course evaluation and communication for the further
improvement of MOOC teaching quality and benefit. This requires the teacher not only needs
professional knowledge on a traditional subject, but also must possess the modern information
technology, such as information technology, network technology and virtual reality technology, data
mining technology, cloud information, thus can realize the perfect combination between technology and
academy, and develop in setting up more high-quality MOOC curriculum.
3 Remodeling Teachers’ Role Under the Background of MOOC
In the face of huge impact brought by MOOC, teachers in colleges and universities should be brave in
the face of such new challenge and take the initiative to adapt to the transformation of teachers’ role,
actively update educational concept, strive their own ability and quality, finish the teachers’ role
remodeling under the background of the MOOC, and realize the gorgeous turn of their own role with
enough confidence to meet the coming of the MOOC era.
3.1 Change the education and teaching ideas of teachers
To abandon the educational concepts of “teachers’ center”, “teaching materials’ center” and “classrooms
center” set by a traditional university, we need to adjust to the new features of MOOC teaching for the
establishment of the teaching and educational ideas with students’ center, learning center, team learning,
personality learning. On the design of the course, we need to take students’ demands as the center and
set up the concept of personalized study, paying attention to different basis, different characteristics of
the students’ learning by different needs, following the basic rule of online learning, choosing the
teaching content scientifically, designing the teaching process and the interactive discussion link, and
formulating scientific evaluation standard and way for students learning, using modern information
technology and virtual interaction technology to promote construction learning between teachers and
students, and make full use of cloud computing, big data, data mining techniques in accurate analysis of
the students’ learning process and learning effect in order to provide timely and sufficient support and
feedback for students’ learning. In design and development of MOOC, we need to set up the team
concept of cooperation, fully absorbing the teachers with different background, different disciplines,
different ability and experiences into the team, clearing their respective division of labor and
coordinating to improve the quality of MOOC together according to objectives of the course.
3.2 Quicken the transmission of teachers’ role
The new approach to learning under the background of MOOC requires a teacher to change from a pure
knowledge transmitter into an academic gatekeeper, mentor and assistant of learning, promoter and
evaluator, to support and promote the students how to learn, how to cooperate and how to innovate.
Under the learning conditions of MOOC, because of the knowledge gathered in each node of the
network, teachers are not all the authority of knowledge, but only one of the nodes. Therefore, teachers
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are no longer the only imparter of knowledge, they just become the leader and organizer of the course to
provide a basic framework content at the beginning of the course, while the real learning and knowledge
innovation occurs in the interaction and collision between teachers and students as well as among the
students themselves, teachers need to provide support and help for the creation of the platform and
atmosphere of the interaction and team learning. However, teachers are no longer the authority of
knowledge does not mean that teachers’ traditional functions have completely lost. On the contrary,
because they have a certain professional background, they are usually experts in this field or insiders
with rich experience, therefore, can be an effective mentor of students in professional learning. This is
because that students are limited in their own knowledge structure and experience, and can not
completely clear of the whole process of learning and the main goal to achieve, so they must have the
teachers guided. Therefore, under the background of the MOOC, the main task of the teacher will be
changed along with the transition of the role, and turn the imparting knowledge into the guidance of
students learning, promoting, supporting, and even participating in students learning, and creating a
good environment for students’ autonomous learning. So, teachers must learn the new educational ideas,
R&D of new hybrid teaching mode, research the importance of teacher’s dynamic role, master the
teaching methods of the flipped classroom, the MOOC curriculum development and implementation
skills, master the use of data mining technology to carry out personalized training methods, explore the
method of improving the effect of online learning evaluation. [6] And encourage students to innovate
curriculum content through the communications in the process of course interaction and Q&A, and
correctly guide the course.
3.3 Continually improve the teacher’s information-based teaching abilities as the core
comprehensive ones
MOOC is a kind of teaching model innovation based on modern information technology and network
platform and information technology is an important support for MOOC teaching. Although in the
development and maintenance of the curriculum can hire professional and technical personnel to
provide technical support for some companies, they can only provide the support from the technology,
and can’t completely realize the new transformation of teaching idea through the innovation of
technological means. In fact, the advancement of MOOC is not its advanced technology, but exists in
the advanced teaching ideas and educational ideals as well as the concept of educational value hidden
behind the technology behind the advanced teaching idea and the education of ideal and values of
education. A teacher is definitely a practitioner of advanced educational and teaching idea, only the
teachers can be better understanding educational and teaching concept of the MOOC and can make the
reasonable exploitation and the utilization of advanced technology from the perspective of education
better and scientifically design the teaching content, therefore, it becomes very urgent to improve
teachers’ information literacy. One is to improve the teachers using information technology in teaching
design ability. Such as how to scientifically design the teaching content according to students’
psychological differences and different learning needs to meet the students needs of personalized
learning. The second is to improve the teachers using information technology to broaden the teaching
ability of MOOC. With the perfect fulfillment of information technology, the classroom teaching
changes into teaching superposition of many kinds for it’s one of the forms of knowledge teaching.
Teachers must comply with the development needs and make full use of various means and techniques
of MOOC, widen the teaching form at universities and realize the changes from the single reception
learning to teachers and students cooperation for the common innovative approach to learning. The third
is to improve the teachers’ ability using information technology to analyze learning. Teachers must try to
master the modern cloud computing, big data and data mining analysis for the analysis of students and
the learning environment, the evaluation of students’ learning process and teaching effect, find potential
problems during the learning process and promote the optimization and enhancement of learning.
In addition to the improvement of teachers’ teaching ability of information technology, the teachers’
control of teaching process is also greatly improved, creating the teaching interactive situation,
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scientifically make the reasonable evaluation of teaching and provide guidance, services and help for
students in many aspects of comprehensive ability for the better needs of MOOC teaching.
4 Conclusion
Though the coming of the MOOC era has brought the huge impact on the university, but from the
perspective of its educational function and historical tradition, the university’s educational nature does
not change, the prime function of university is to cultivate talents all the time and teachers are the forces
of imparting knowledge and educating students, therefore, the core of teachers’ role and connotation will
never change, In the face of challenges, what teachers need to do is take the initiative to adapt to the
change of the epoch, constantly improve their own ability and quality, renewal education idea, to speed
up the role transition, and always stand in the forefront of the reform of education to adapt to the new
demand of MOOC teaching mode.
Author in Brief:
Zhang Dan (1977. 12- ), Han, female, Jingzhou, Media School of Wuhan Textile University, engaged in
art education research.
Address: Textile Road, Minzu Avenue, Hongshan District, Media School of Wuhan Textile University,
Wuhan, Hubei, P.R.China.
Zip code: 430073
Tel: 13986218383
E-mail: [email protected]
References
[1]. Li Fei, Huang Mingdong. “MOOC” Brings the Opportunities and Challenges for Higher
Institutions [J]. China’s Higher Education. 2014 (7)
[2]. Li Qing, Wang Tao. MOOC: A Huge, Open Course Based on Connectivism [J]. China Distance
Education. 2012 (3)
[3]. George Siemens. Connectivism: A Learning Going for the Digital Age. The Instructional
Technology & Short Learning. 2005, 2 (1): 3-10
[4]. Wang Yufeng. Look Troubles and Way Out of Co-construction and Sharing for the Quality of
Higher Education Resources From the Rising of MOOC [J]. Journal of Jiaozuo Normal College.
2013 (3)
[5]. Jiang Bo, Wang Yijun. The Perspectives and Replies of MOOC [J]. China’s Higher Education.
2014 (7)
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