Westminster College

What make colleges well positioned for the future? Selingo (2013) discusses how colleges have adopted strategies that teach students valuable lessons that they need in order to be successful. Students spend so much time in the classroom, reading, attending lectures, taking tests, and all of which are done with the hope of a passing grade (Hullinger, 2015). However, “all the credit hours in the world don’t guarantee students actually learn anything applicable in the workplace, and employers know this all too well” (Hullinger, 2015). A college that makes an education meaningful is the type of experience every student should have. While many of the suggested universities stood out, Westminster College looked absolutely intriguing.

Westminster College discusses the idea of students creating a meaningful life. Students have the opportunity to create a learning experience outside of the classroom. Westminster challenges students to be innovative in the sense that it encourages them to take what they are learning and apply it to real life. Whether it is through advocating for social justice or cultivating safe spaces, Westminster wants students to apply their knowledge. The shift becomes one from a nose in the notebook to one that promotes “tangible skills that are applicable” in the world (Hullinger, 2015).

I chose Westminster because it did not advocate a traditional approach to education. It gave me the idea that students learn through experiences. It also provided students the opportunities to apply the knowledge from their chosen major across a broad range of fields. “Students advance not by ticking off classes but by proving they’ve mastered specific skill sets, or competencies” (Hullinger, 2015). We often forget that it could be simple for most students to memorize and answer questions on an exam. What is challenging both for the brain and the student is allowing them to figure things out on their own by applying what they learn in the real world.   Colleges need to make the shift from a traditional education to a tangible one. Colleges can do so by creating classes that are collaborative and allow for discussion. Courses within all majors can combine students from different fields and provide the opportunity for them to collaborate, solve problems, and reach their full potential.

Hullinger, J. (2015, May 20). This is the future of college. The New Rules Of Work. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3046299/the-new-rules-of-work/this-is-the-future-of-college

Selingo, J. J. (2013). College (un)bound: The future of higher education and what it means for students. Boston, MA: New Harvest.

MOOCs

MOOCs became a big part of the general higher education landscape in 2011 (Seling, 2014). “Many saw in them promise of a revolutionary force that would disrupt traditional higher education by expanding access and reducing costs” (Selingo, 2014). Many believed that MOOCs would give students all over the world an opportunity to gain an education. Although a majority of MOOCs are free, they are still difficult to complete. Selingo (2014) discusses how “just 25 percent of students passed; in another, only 50 percent passed, much lower rates than for the on-campus equivalents”. The question becomes exactly, how do MOOCs fit into the general higher education landscape. We must factor in how MOOCs are unconventional and there is no set way of delivering instruction. Every MOOC has a different format and way of assessment. The ability to learn from these MOOCs shows that education can be delivered in various ways and be successful.

Selingo (2014) discusses how “nearly all MOOCs originate from the world’s top universities”. Top universities usually have students who are over achievers, extremely bright, motivated, and are disciplined students who are willing to sit down and study from a textbook (Selingo, 2014). As a result, the MOOCs are formatted in such a way that students who have had previous educational backgrounds are those who ultimately complete the course. Christensen and Alcorn (2014) discuss how there is also a continued need to focus on basic and secondary education so that more people, especially women, will be able to participate. Traditional universities must acknowledge that many of these students who want to take MOOCs have very little educational experience, therefore, when designing the course, should take this into consideration.

After students complete MOOcs, the questions becomes “how to collect these diverse experiences into a meaningful representation of that newly acquired knowledge” (Blake, 2014). There really is very little data to determine the quality of design, delivery and outcome, making it rather difficult for institutions to recognize MOOCs as a possible addition of a credit to a student’s transcript. “Traditional education measures the quality of learning with a variety of assessment methods against a set of established criteria or objectives”. However, the assessment aspect of MOOCs are not always straightforward, making it unclear on what the intended outcome of the course was (Morristown, 2015). For institutions to be able to include MOOCs on a transcript, the MOOCs need to select “a framework grounded in learning theory that supports an effective course design process that delivers quality learning experiences” (Morrison, 2015). If most MOOCs continue to have varied formats and no consistency with curriculum design, institutions will less likely recognize them.

Blake, D. (2013, October 25). Can MOOCs revolutionize the college transcript? Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-blake/can-moocs-revolutionize-t_b_4160004.html

Christensen, G., & Alcorn, B. (2014, March 16). Who takes MOOCs? Educated, employed, First-World guys. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/new_scientist/2014/03/mooc_survey_students_of_free_online_courses_are_educated_employed_and_male.html

Morrison, D. (2015, December 12). MOOC quality comes down to this: Effective course design. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/mooc-quality-comes-down-to-this-effective-course-design/

Selingo, J. J. (2014, October 29). Demystifying the MOOC. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/education/edlife/demystifying-the-mooc.html