Online education is dead; long live Mentored Simulated Experiences

July 3, 2014 at 8:48 am 8 comments

Roger Schank (one of the founders of both cognitive science and learning science) declares MOOCs dead (including Georgia Tech’s OMS degree, explicitly), while recommending a shift to Mentored Simulation Experiences.  I find his description of MSE’s interesting — I think our ebook work is close to what he’s describing, since we focus on worked examples (as a kind of “mentoring”) and low cognitive-load practice (with lots of feedback).

So, while I am declaring online education dead, because every university is doing it and the market will soon be flooded with crap, I am not declaring the idea of a learning by doing mentored experience dead.

So, I  propose a new name, Mentored Simulated Experiences.

via Education Outrage: Online education and Online degrees are dead; now let’s move on to something real.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dennisfrailey  |  July 3, 2014 at 9:03 am

    MOOCs may (or may not) be on the way out but there are other forms of on line education that have proved themselves to be of great value for decades. Until the proposed alternatives can find ways to serve the people served by on line education, I doubt that on line education is going away.

    • 2. mgozaydin  |  July 5, 2014 at 5:37 am

      ONLINE is improving every day. After 5 years we will not use the word online at all .

  • 3. Doug Holton  |  July 4, 2014 at 8:14 am

    A worked example is giving students the solution to a textbook problem. It can be helpful for learning at lower levels. It’s a far cry from a mentoring experience, however. I don’t think a student feels mentored when reading the solutions to textbook problems.

    Cognitive load theory is a theory from the 1980s based on the computer metaphor of cognition. Even cognitive load theory’s own advocates have acknowledged has serious inconsistencies (it’s unfalsifiable, for one):

    • 4. Mark Guzdial  |  July 5, 2014 at 3:58 am

      Agreed that a worked example is not mentoring. It can be part, though. Roger’s Ask systems had lots of experts telling stories from their experiences. Just because something came out of the 1980’s doesn’t mean it’s bad, like the Police.

  • 5. tom abeles  |  July 4, 2014 at 9:20 am

    If one reads Roger’s blog, Education Outrage, there seems to be a lament for the “good old days” when there was significant funding for his work in times past. The second sentiment seems to be that the funding that is available today is misdirected (possibly not to his past or current ideas). It seems to be an argument for rethinking and reallocation.

  • 6. mgozaydin  |  July 5, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Most MOOCs such as Coursera courses are not full university courses.
    Therefore they cannot replace the HE at all .
    But edx is different. Set up by NON PROFIT MIT AND HARVARD and full university courses as oncampus courses .
    The only missing link is degrees. The moment edx starts providing degrees millions will enroll with EDX.
    1.- Top class education
    2.- Probably edx will charge $ 1000-200 per course for degree courses
    3.- Skilled graduates finding good jobs
    4.- No LOANS of $ 1 trillion
    5.- No bad colleges , deceiving parents

  • 7. Mike Caulfield (@holden)  |  July 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    I worked on Schank’s designs back in the early 00s. They are not really worked examples. You can find some examples in this Kemi Jona paper (towards the end):

    If cognitive load theory is not falsifiable, neither is time on task. Neither is the principle of muscle targeting at the gym, at least as a theory.

    In practice that doesn’t matter, because designs that are constructed with these principles in mind have a good track history.

    • 8. Mark Guzdial  |  July 8, 2014 at 7:45 am

      Mike, you don’t think that the stories that Ask systems tell are kinds of worked examples? And aren’t the example interactions that Dustin provided a kind of worked example? I’m not saying that worked examples == mentored simulated experiences. I’m saying that worked examples are part of mentored simulated experiences. They’re a part of what mentoring provides.


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