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Graphic of student learning at a computer
source: eHow on blended instruction

Online "Instruction"

Is It the Future of Higher Education?

page compiled by Harold Marcuse
(professor of German history at UC Santa Barbara)
Harold Marcuse homepage

created February 12, 2012, updated 11/1/12

News Articles
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Introduction (back to top)

  • In January 2012 a group of interested faculty serving on the UC Santa Barbara's Undergraduate Council (part of our faculty co-governance structure) formed an ad hoc committee to study the pros and cons and best practices of online instruction. We exchanged links to a number of interesting articles, which I'm archiving here while I decide whether I want to start a blog on the subject.

News Articles on the Future of Education (back to top)

  • Sept. 26, 2012: "Wesleyan to Offer Free Online Courses through Coursera."
    Wesleyan was one of 17 universities that joined the project on Sept. 19, bringing the total to 33. In the first 24 hours after joining, 10,000 people signed up for Wesleyan's 5 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
  • "UC Online Program Gains Momentum," Oct. 2012 press release about the state and nature of online education in the University of California system.
  • "What’s Digital Pedagogy?," Brian Croxall's website for an "unconference" at the Jan. 3, 2013 MLA meeting. Short reflection with lots of links showing the breadth of what can be considered digital (electronic, which can often be readily converted for online delivery) teaching approaches.
  • "What you (really) need to know," New York Times, Jan. 20, 2012, by Laurence Summers (former Harvard president and US Secretary of the Treasury -- and misogynist).
    Summers describes 6 ways 21st century education will be different than in the past. They can be subsumed under: education will be "more about how to process and use information and less about imparting it." Open-source textbooks, greater emphasis on collaboration, the lowering of language barriers, and the need for data (information) analysis skills are among the consequential changes he anticipates.
  • "Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching," Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 5, 2012.
    Are conventional teaching approaches--like lectures--ineffective? How might one better 'prod students to make meaning from what they learn, to ask questions, extract knowledge, and apply it in a new context'? Myth of visual vs. auditory etc. learning styles is debunked, and testing is shown to be an effective means of increasing information retention.
  • "Why Pay for Intro Textbooks?," Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 7, 2012.
    On recent developments in the movement to create open-source textbooks.
    • "Marketing to the MOOC Masses," on Elsevier publisher's partnership with EdX to offer a (somewhat restricted) digital version of its textbook free to students, in: Inside Higher Education, Sept. 26, 2012.
      MOOC stands for "massive open online course." There are various incentives to use this free version to increase sales of the hard copy textbook.
  • "In the Digital World, Every District Can Compete with Every Other," Education Next, Feb. 9, 2012.
    In a Utah pilot program high school students dissatisfied with a course at their school can opt to take an online version instead. Outside providers can be contracted to offer such courses.
  • "MIT launches free online 'fully automated' course," BBC News, Feb. 13, 2012.
    This "MITx" project takes placing course materials online to a whole new level.
    See also MIT's own article on the course, including faculty reactions.
  • "University 2.0:" Sebastian Thrun (former Stanford professor), describes in 22:47 YouTube clip how putting his lectures online (inspired by the Kahn Academy), enabled him to reach many new students (with testimonials), so he has left Stanford to start teaching for free online. From a DLD (Digital - Life - Design) 2012 conference, Jan. 23, 2012. The website Thrun is using to present his computer science classes is www.udacity.com.

Research (back to top)

  • Questions that research in online instruction should address (from a 1998 "Guide to Online Eduction" by Greg Kearsley, who has a PhD in educational psychology (1978), taught at various universities, and is now an educational consultant in Wisconsin. In 2000 he published Online Learning: Personal Reflections on the Transformation of Education, with a web version, "Learning and Teaching in Cyberspace."
    1. What are the characteristics of a good/poor online learner?
    2. What determines the level of online participation for a given individual?
    3. Are there age-related aspects? What are the characteristics of a good/poor online teacher?
    4. How important is previous teaching experience (traditional or online)?
    5. How do outcomes from online learning experiences differ from traditional classroom settings?
    6. Is the nature of the learning experience fundamentally the same or different? How does the social interaction that occurs online compare to that which occurs in traditional classroom settings?
    7. What are the respective value and contribution to learning of synchronous versus asynchronous interaction modes?
    8. What are the respective value and contribution to learning of textual, audio and video-based interaction modes? What are the best ways to assess learning in an online environment?
  • U.S. Dept. of Education (2009): "Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies."
  • My 2005 reading notes on Mario Carretero, James Voss (eds.), Cognitive and Instructional Processes in History and the Social Sciences (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1994). (This was an early experiment with putting notes online to share and start a discussion, as opposed to reviewing a book.)

Resource Links (back to top)

page created by Harold Marcuse on Feb. 12, 2012; last update: see page header
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