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  • MOOC & Strategy: NIH grants and the virtual (world) medical school
    USA is now taking steps to fund open online resources for medical education, which can be utilized in future to create a virtual global medical school curriculum for health professions and pre-medical education equal to the best in the world. NIH is welcoming a new era of development of big data courses and open educational resources that will be available to the whole world for free. Read more...
  • Is blended learning an innovation to improve schools?
    The current education system is very old and needs a disruptive innovation. A new book "Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools" by education experts Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker states the need to update our system and serves as a design guide to effectively embrace and implement blended learning. Read more...
  • Humanitarian aid workers get free high quality training
    DisasterReady.org, a signature program of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, is an online training platform that provides courses and tools covering all aspects of humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The courses are designed to meet foundational and advanced training and the skill set required for an aid worker on the ground. Read more...
  • Tuition-free Universities in Germany
    Germans believe that free university education is a basic human right and it is socially unjust to collect tuition-fees that would discourage students from continuing their education. Beginning this week all German Universities will offer free higher education for students including international students. Read more...

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  • Interview with Dr. Raj Raghunathan


    Dr. Rajagopal Raghunathan is the author of one the world’s most popular online courses, a MOOC offered by Coursera entitled ‘A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment’. He is Professor of Marketing at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. WUC interviewed him in the midst of his world tour sharing his experiences on how to develop and deliver successful educational content online.

    1. What are the major limitations of the current education system in preparing youth for life in the 21st century?

    Education systems vary by country and culture of course—e.g., the system in Germany, Netherlands and some other European countries allow for students to self select into “professional” vs. “skilled labor” tracks during high school. However, by and large, most education systems fail us by not providing an overarching framework for understanding why being educated is useful. I would imagine that most people would agree that education is useful because it helps enhance everyone’s well-being, and I think this overarching goal needs to be made explicit from Day 1 and reaffirmed through out one’s education. Courses on the topic of "well-being” need to find a way into the curriculum and should play a very central role.

    2. Is it possible to shift from a subject centered to person/student centered learning?

    Yes, we currently have the technology to be able to do so. Online platforms can more easily enable students to delve deeper into a particular topic of interest.

    3. What are the strategies to shift from passive to active learning?

    Students differ from one another in how they learn. Some students learn well by listening, others by reading, and most learn best by actually doing—or teaching to someone else. The online medium provides greater opportunities for active learning. For example, students could be asked to videotape the various things that they did for an assignment and upload it on to the course website. Or, they could be asked to teach a particular topic to someone who is not knowledgeable about that topic. And, of course, they could be periodically tested through “in video quizzes”; findings show that such quick tests can enhance learner-engagement and learning.

    4. What are the advantages of the online classes? What are your suggestions for creating an effective course?

    The online medium offers several significant advantages over the offline (face-to-face) medium. One such advantage is efficiency. You can convey more information per unit of time and add other elements like images and music that enhance learning. It’s easier to integrate quick assessments in online contexts. You can bring in guest speakers and subject matter experts more easily in online videos. It’s more expensive and effortful to do it in face-to-face contexts.
    That said, there are some key disadvantages of the online medium. It can be frustrating if the internet connection is bad. It also does not as easily allow for exchanges between learners. I think it is very important to have a few face-to-face meetings to complement the online content.
    The key element that will make an online course a success is that it needs to offer information in smaller bits than is typically done face-to-face. Given that the online medium has more reach and therefore attracts students from a more diverse set of backgrounds, the message needs to be communicated differently—more directly and using simpler language.

  • Rich colleges should not just focus on study but take action!
    Ranjani Ravi

    Cornell University decided a few weeks ago to change the Department of English to the Department of Literatures in English. This is part of a decolonising effort that way back in 1968 in Nairobi that did something similar. There is no denying this is a welcome sign. Anything that tries to free us from the shackles of colonisation mindset is fine as long as it doesn't stop short if just that: trying. We either try or do. We can't do that. We are definitely evolving but the speed with which this happens does not match in pace with the speed that is necessary.

    The concern is, Cornell is a school for the rich and the wealthy. Same applies to Yale and Harvard, who encourage upper class kids to write scholarly articles on Fighting racism and building inclusivity and diversity but do not admit students from the lower background, which is key to building inclusivity. Scholarship doesn't equal accountability.

    Inspired by this piece on The Chronicle: https://www.chronicle.com/article/what-wealthy-colleges-could-do-if-they...