A Potent Blend
There is no doubt that technology is changing the world and with the right people leading the way, education stands to benefit dramatically. At UBC, technology is at the forefront of Flexible Learning – a commitment to bring more flexibility to how and where students do their learning.
“Technology is continually helping us find better ways to connect with students,” says Angela Redish, Vice Provost and Associate Vice President Enrolment and Academic Facilities.
Even though flexible learning is not completely dependent on technology, two areas where technology is making a huge impact are through ‘Blended Learning’ and ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ or MOOCs.
“Blended learning is about blending face to face with online communication,” explains professor Redish. One example of this is called a ‘flipped classroom’ because it minimizes the amount of lecturing and increases the amount of student/instructor interaction. “Students come to class after viewing videos and other online content so that the classroom can become more of a place for engagement and discussion.”
MOOCs are currently being touted as the single most transformative force in education today. Considering that UBC’s first MOOC attracted over 130,000 registrants from every Canadian province and almost every nation on the planet, it’s safe to say they are already having a profound impact. UBC’s early success with MOOCs can be partially attributed to the partnership with Coursera – a website that delivers free, publicly available non-credit courses to a worldwide audience. Coursera courses typically consist of videos and voice-over PowerPoint presentations, with student-led discussion forums, interactive activities, quizzes and assignments set at regular intervals.
UBC has embraced flexible learning at both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses because of its ability to enhance the learning experience for all students. Professor Redish says flexible learning is working because “students are excited about it and want to play a role in shaping it.”