Friday, December 26, 2008

Micro and Mass Education--2008 in Review

There are the beginnings of both education focused on specialized topics "micro-education" and education that engages large numbers of people "mass-education." There are a number of opportunities and challenges embedded in these efforts.

Specialization (micro-education). Just as the Internet makes it possible for specialized products to find a market in the long-tail, the Internet also affords the opportunity for specialized educational efforts that are targeted to a specific audience. Teachers who are interested in teaching about topics that would not find students in their own school are now able to find interested learners when they open their courses on the Internet. This possibility expands the diversity of topics that can be explored and studied.

Engaging Many People (mass-education). Another trend is that the Internet has created the opportunity to teach courses to a mass audience. There are two examples of these efforts. On the one hand, several people have begun to offer courses in which they invite anyone interested to enroll (See Work Literacy and Role playing & Simulations of Open Education). These efforts are interesting because they present interesting instructional design challenges for the teachers-- how do you provide feedback to 2,000 students? When you invite contributions and input, how do you monitor the quality of the interaction and the new ideas that are introduced? Likewise, as a student how do you get the teacher's attention? Will your questions ever get answered in this mass courses?

Another version of this phenomena is BJ Fogg's ideas about mass interpersonal persuasion, in which he has asserted that the Internet combined with social networking creates the possibility to change behavior in large numbers of people. In particular, he notes that never before have educators had this combination of tools--persuasion, automation, social distribution, rapid cycle, huge social graph, and measured impact. He suggests that creates an enormous potential to educate people and change behavior.

Summary. Both microeducation and mass education deserve to be explored in more detail and a lot of questions need to be asked about how to design these various approaches, when to use these designs and what success can be achieved with these efforts.

1 comment:

Kr─ôsli said...

Thanks for this great article!