Wicked Problem: How Do We Re-imagine Online Learning?

Online Learning

How Do We Re-image Online Learning?

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Many hours were spent in Google Hangouts with Ray Stuckey, Yalonda Combs, and Tammy Montgomery collaborating on this project. Our project began by looking at the 2013 Horizon Report and focusing on Online Learning.

Re-imagine online learning. The demand for online learning is challenging us to rethink what learning via the network can and should deliver — whether the provider represents one of the world’s leading universities, a for-profit provider of skills or business training, or a school system trying to meet the needs of increasingly disengaged learners. Simply delivering content is no longer enough. Students expect learning that matters; learning connected in timely ways to the real world; learning that engages their interests; and learning experiences that see them as entire persons, not just consumers of content. Online learning owes its heritage to distance learning, but in today’s world, online learning is something even residential students want and expect. How to make online learning realize its full potential is a wicked problem because we are not even sure of the questions we need to ask so we can begin to understand what to refine, and what to improve. More experimentation, more data about every dimension of online learning, and new fresh ideas are needed to even begin to define the directions in which development should be taking place.

Online Learning moving forwardVoiceThread Script:

(Intro video) Ray

Digitizing online learning is a wicked problem. How do we bring a traditional classroom onto the Internet? Or is it best to not use a classroom as a metaphor for what online learning should be? The traditional classroom isn’t viewed as the pillar of education it once was. It might be best not to start with a failing instructional mode as a model for how to move forward.

(iTunes U slide) Tammy

The first move online has just been to record lectures and retransmit them, iTunes U. While this may have some advantages for students, they can see lectures at other times, or from other places, it fails to bring any benefit from technology. This, we believe, can be the big advantage of online learning. A learning activity like a lecture should be turned from a passive, lean-back, activity to an active, lean-forward, activity.

(Khan Academy Slide) Londa

A lot of work has been done in this area. Many companies have taken a bite into online learning. Khan Academy is one of them. It hosts over 4,200 short videos that cover topics from basic addition to calculus, and a growing collection of science and arts videos. Separately from the videos, is a collection of math exercises that allow users to practice each math skill until mastery. Built into the site is data collection that let’s users and their “coaches” view their progress. The missing piece to this is the progression from one skill to the next. It is not clear which skills are normally covered and in what order.

(Udacity Slide) Ray

Udacity takes a different approach. Founded by a professor from Stanford, short quizzes are integrated into video lectures. Just as a teacher may ask a question in a class, the teachers asks a question in the video and the learner has to answer before the video will continue. At the end of the videos there are larger assignments that must be completed and are checked by computer. This allows the learner to take the course at anytime, and at the pace of the learner, instead of a pace set by the teacher.

(Coursera Slide) Londa add Connections academy Human Interaction

Coursera And Connections Academy are two virtual schools that use video lectures and quizzes as well, but they have a different focus. Each course has a set start and end date, with assignments due each week. Learners are able to work together in groups or as a class through different modes of technology, instead of working individually. Because everyone is working at the same pace this happens more easily. Students also have similar access to their instructors. They focus on human assessment rather than computer grading for many of their assignments.

(TED-Ed Slide) Renee

TED-Ed taylors their courses to meet the needs of the flipped classroom format. The lessons begin with a curated educational video created by educators. The TED-Ed management system allows instructors to use pre existing follow up questions or create their own questions. All learner answers are stored on the TED-Ed system so learners and educators can access these anytime. The platform can be used with any personal video or YouTube video as well.

(Forward Slide)


High quality videos by high quality lectures are crucial.


Computer graded quizzes increases engagement and understanding, and provide immediate feedback.


The videos should be broken up into small chunks to increase interactivity. And there has to be in-depth assignments.


Learners can collaborate with each other and the course instructors both online and in-person using multiple modes the internet provides. Humans feedback is given on assignments not just computer generated results.


Teachers should be able to remix previous lessons.

(Outro Slide) animate bullet points and music


2013 Horizon Report focus: Online Learning.



2 thoughts on “Wicked Problem: How Do We Re-imagine Online Learning?

  1. Pingback: Effectiveness of the Internet – the question! | KENET BLOG

    • I would love to here more. What are your thoughts after view the post? Do it raise more questions, do you have a comment about any specific area? I would love to hear from you on any thoughts or wonderings this post has caused you to re-imagine.

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