Is Online Ed Leaving the Educator Behind? Summarizing Our SXSWedu Panel Proposal

August 12, 2014

SchoolKeep has submitted a panel idea for SXSWedu 2015. Titled “Online Education is the New Punk Rock,” we’re investigating what it takes to democratize online education for the educator, not the student.

With the advent of Massive Open Online Courses, better known as MOOCs, it is possible for any student with an Internet connection to access courses from well-known universities. Thought leaders in the field credit them for ‘democratizing’ education, although real access by underserved populations is tough to quantify.

Also, MOOCs have high dropout rates, and very few students complete courses. For instance, a 2014 University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education study that observed the MOOC behavior of 1 million people who signed up for courses by the university on Coursera from June 2012 to June 2013 found that only 4 percent completed courses, while student engagement fell drastically during the first few weeks of each term.

Not only do students rarely receive credit for these courses, but the tools available to instructors are still limited by technology that has barely evolved since the 1990s, despite venture funding in education technology surpassing the $1 billion mark in 2012. So while MOOCs are toppling campus walls, they’re changing little about how, how many and what kind of educators actually teach online.

Like students, many think its time to empower our educators if we want to improve retention and completion rates in online courses. The growth in potential educators has provoked first-time, entrepreneurial instructors to move online, where they have thought of new ways to promote themselves and transmit course content to a growing number of online students.

Still, if educators struggle with incorporating technology into the classroom - the use of technology-based assessment tools was the lowest-rated benchmark in a recent Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) survey - how difficult is it for them to set up online courses and schools? In order to truly democratize online education, we need to provide easy-to-use, effective tools for educators.

Modern solutions are giving educators hope, however. With the advent of APIs and open developer platforms, software engineering in the education space has become a more collaborative process, united by the vision of improving the mechanisms that educators use to teach. Open platforms can then encourage other innovators to build upon an existing framework, working to empower online educators in the process.

So, will platforms empower today’s online educators? Vote for us and find out at SXSWedu 2015.



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