Online Education Blog #5

Can Online Education Replace Conventional Classroom Teaching?

By Shlomo Maital

   My granddaughter Maya asks: “Can online education replace conventional classroom teaching?”

     My (Shlomo) background: The Coursera four-course specialty “Cracking the Creativity Code”, with many thousands of students, has proved quite successful; I get many emails from all over the world. It was a team effort, with great Technion support. We learned a lot. Here is a major conclusion, in response to Maya, from a much stronger expert than me:

     “Michelle Weise, who blogs at Harvard Business Review, argues persuasively that the “real revolution in online education isn’t MOOCs”. Instead, it is called “online competency-based education – and it’s going to revolutionize the workforce”. She argues:   Say a newly minted graduate with a degree in history realizes that in order to attain her dream job at Facebook, she needs some experience with social media marketing. Going back to school is not a desirable option, and many schools don’t even offer relevant courses in social media. Where is the affordable accessible, targeted and high-quality program that she needs to skill-up?   On-line competency based education is the key to filling in the skill gaps in the workplace”.   Weise’s point of view is totally consistent with the motives and demographics of current MOOC learners, who are older, many with degrees, and who seek specific skills and competencies.” *

So — for now, online education is a temporary stopgap to replace the frontal classroom teaching in schools and universities, which are for now closed.

Let’s think ‘beyond virus’ – after COVID-19. Can we use this crisis, to reflect deeply on how we learn and teach, and think about how we could do this a whole lot better? (See my blog, on life after COVID-19,…ew-from-mckinsey/  

   Some believe the greatest invention in the history of the world was public education – Schooling for all, ALL, K through 12. I tend to agree. Now – can we broaden that invention, and make education truly for all, everywhere, at all times, all ages? This means, first, broadband for all – only half the world today has Internet. What about the other half? They deserve it too. And it can be done. The wealthy countries can help. Second, rethink education. Roadmap future skills we will need – then organize online education to provide them. Or help provide them.

   Everyone talks about the Industrial Revolution 4.0.   What about launching a Public Education Revolution 2.0?

   Let’s think big. Let’s see COVID-19 as an opportunity to rethink absolutely everything about how we teach and learn. Let’s not just go back to our classrooms, as if nothing has changed. EVERYthing has changed. And it is up to us to change it for the good

* Shlomo Maital Ronit Lis-Hacohen & Abigail Barzilai. Paper available on request.