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  • [APPLAUSE]

  • ANANT AGARWAL: I'd like to reimagine education.

  • The last year has seen the invention of a new four letter word.

  • It starts with an "M."

  • MOOC.

  • Massive Open Online Courses.

  • Many organizations are offering these online courses to students

  • all over the world in the millions for free.

  • Anybody who has an internet connection and the will to learn

  • can access these great courses from excellent universities

  • and get a credential at the end of it.

  • Now, in this discussion today, I want to focus on a different aspect of MOOCs.

  • We are taking what we're learning and the technologies

  • we are developing in the large and applying them in the small

  • to create a blended model of education, to really reinvent and reimagine

  • what we do in the classroom.

  • Now, our classrooms could use change.

  • So here's a classroom at this little three letter

  • institute in the Northeast of America, MIT.

  • And this was a classroom 50, 60 years ago, and this is the classroom today.

  • What's changed?

  • The seats are in color.

  • Whoop dee do.

  • Education really hasn't changed in the past 500 years.

  • So the last big innovation in education was

  • the printing press and the textbooks.

  • Everything else has changed around us.

  • From health care to transportation, everything is different.

  • But education hasn't changed.

  • It's also been a real issue in terms of access.

  • So what you see here is not a rock concert.

  • And the person you see at the end of the stage is not Madonna.

  • This is a classroom at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria.

  • Now, we have all heard of distance education,

  • but the students way in the back, 200 feet away from the instructor,

  • I think they are undergoing long distance education.

  • Now, I really believe that we can transform education

  • both in quality and scale and access through technology.

  • For example, at edX, we're trying to transform education

  • through online technologies.

  • Given education has been calcified for 500 years,

  • we really cannot think about re-engineering it.

  • Micromanaging it.

  • We really have to completely reimagine it.

  • It's like going from ox carts to the airplane.

  • Even the infrastructure has to change.

  • Everything has to change.

  • We need to go from lectures on the blackboard

  • to online exercises, online videos.

  • We have to go to interactive virtual laboratories and gamification.

  • We have to go to completely online grading

  • and peer interaction and discussion boards.

  • Everything really has to change.

  • So at edX and a number of other organizations,

  • we are applying these technologies to education

  • through MOOCs to really increase access to education.

  • And you have heard of this example where,

  • when we launched our very first course-- and this

  • was an MIT-hard circuits and electronics course about a year and a half ago--

  • 155,000 students from 162 countries enrolled in this course.

  • And we had no marketing budget.

  • Now, 155,000 is a big number.

  • This number is bigger than the total number

  • of alumni of MIT in it's 150 year history.

  • 7,200 students passed the course, and this was a hard course.

  • 7,200 is also a big number.

  • If I were to teach at MIT two semesters every year,

  • I would have to teach for 40 years before I

  • could teach this many students.

  • Now, these large numbers are just one part of the story.

  • So, today, I want to discuss a different aspect, the other side of MOOCs,

  • take a different perspective.

  • We are taking what we develop and learn in the large and apply in the small

  • to the classroom to create a blended model of learning.

  • But before I go into that, let me tell you a story.

  • When my daughter turned 13, became a teenager, she stopped speaking English.

  • She began speaking this new language.

  • I call it Teenglish it's a digital language.

  • It's got two sounds, a grunt and a silence.

  • Honey, come over for dinner?

  • Hmm.

  • Did you hear me?

  • Silence.

  • Can you listen to me?

  • Hmm.

  • So we had a real issue with communicating,

  • and we were just not communicating until one day I had this epiphany.

  • I texted her, I got an instant response.

  • I said, no, that must have been by accident.

  • She must have thought some friend of hers calling her.

  • So I texted her again.

  • Boom.

  • Another response.

  • I said, this is great.

  • And since then, my life has changed.

  • I text her.

  • She responds.

  • It's just been absolutely great.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • So our millennial generation is built differently.

  • Now, I'm older.

  • I mean, my youthful looks might belie that,

  • but I'm not in the millennial generation.

  • But our kids are really different.

  • The millennial generation is completely comfortable with online technology.

  • So why are we fighting it in the classroom?

  • Let's not fight it.

  • Let's embrace it.

  • In fact, I believe-- and I have two fat thumbs.

  • I can't text very well.

  • But I'm willing to bet that, with evolution,

  • our kids and then the grandchildren will develop really,

  • really little, itty bitty thumbs to text much better.

  • Evolution will fix all of that stuff.

  • But so why don't we embrace technology?

  • Embrace the millennial generation's natural predilections

  • and really think about creating these online technologies,

  • blend them into their lives?

  • So here's what we can do.

  • So rather than drive our kids into a classroom,

  • herding them out there at 8 o'clock in the morning.

  • I hated going to class at 8 o'clock in the morning.

  • So why are we forcing our kids to do that?

  • So instead what you do is you have them watch videos

  • and do interactive exercises in the comfort of their dorm rooms,

  • in their bedroom, in the dining room, in the bathroom,

  • wherever they're most creative.

  • Then they come into the classroom for some in person interaction.

  • They can have discussions among themselves.

  • They can solve problems together.

  • They can work with the professor and have

  • the professor answer their questions.

  • In fact, with edX, when we were teaching our first course

  • on circuits and electronics around the world,

  • this was happening unbeknownst to us.

  • Two high school teachers at the Sant High School,

  • in Mongolia, had flipped the classroom, and they were using our video lectures

  • and interactive exercises, where the learners in the high school--

  • 15-year-olds, mind you-- would go and do these things in their own homes

  • and they would come into class and, as you see from this image here,

  • they would interact with each other and do some physical laboratory work.

  • And the only way we discovered this was they wrote a blog

  • and we happened to stumble upon that blog.

  • We are also doing other pilots.

  • So we did a pilot, experimental blended course

  • working with San Jose State University in California.

  • Again, with the circuit and electronics course, you'll hear that a lot.

  • That course has become sort of like our Petri dish of learning.

  • So there the students would-- again, the instructors

  • flipped the classroom, blended online and in person,

  • and the results were staggering.

  • Now, don't take these results to the bank just yet.

  • Just wait a little bit longer as we experiment with this some more,

  • but the early results are incredible.

  • So, traditionally, semester upon semester for the past several years,

  • this course, again, a hard course, had a failure rate of about 40% to 41%

  • every semester.

  • With this blended class late last year, the failure rate fell to 9%.

  • So the results can be extremely, extremely good.

  • Now, before we go up too far into this, I'd

  • like to spend some time discussing some key ideas.

  • Some key ideas that make all of this work?

  • One idea is active learning.

  • The idea here is, rather than have students

  • walk into class and watch lectures, replace this with what we call lessons.

  • Lessons are interleaved sequences of videos and interactive exercises.

  • So students might watch a five, seven minute video,

  • and follow that with an interactive exercise.

  • Think of this as the ultimate Socratization of education.

  • You teach by asking questions.

  • And this a form of learning called active learning.

  • And really promoted by a very early paper in 1972 by Craik and Lockhart,

  • where they said and discovered that learning

  • and retention really relate strongly to the depth of mental processing.

  • Students learn much better when they are interacting with the material.

  • The second idea is self pacing.

  • Now when I went to a lecture hall and if you were like me, by the fifth minute,

  • I would lose the professor.

  • I wasn't all that smart.

  • And I would be scrambling taking notes.

  • And then I would lose the lecture for the rest of the hour.

  • Instead, wouldn't it be nice with online technologies,

  • we offer videos and interactive engagements

  • with students-- they can hit the pause button.

  • They can rewind the professor.

  • Heck, they can even mute the professor.

  • So this form of self pacing can be very helpful to learning.

  • The third idea that we have is instant feedback.

  • With instant feedback, the computer grades exercises.

  • How else do you teach 150,000 students?

  • Your computer is reading all the exercises.

  • And people all submitted homeworks, and your grades come back two weeks later,

  • you've forgotten all about it.

  • I don't think I've still received some of my homeworks

  • from my undergraduate days.

  • Someone never graded them.

  • So with instant feedback, students can try to apply answers.

  • If they get it wrong, they can get instant feedback.

  • They can try it again and try it again.

  • And this really becomes much more engaging

  • when they get the instant feedback.

  • And this little green check mark that you see here

  • is becoming somewhat of a cult symbol at edX.

  • Learners are telling us that they go to bed

  • at night dreaming of the green check mark.

  • In fact, one of our learners who took the circuits course early last year,

  • he then went on to take a software course from Berkeley

  • at the end of the year.

  • And this is what the learner had to say on our discussion board

  • when he just started that course about the green check mark.

  • Oh god; have I missing you.

  • When's the last time you have seen students

  • posting comments like this about homework?

  • My colleague Ed Bertschinger, who heads up the physics department at MIT,

  • has this to say about instant feedback.

  • And he indicated that instant feedback turns teaching moments

  • into learning outcomes.

  • The next big idea is gamification.

  • All learners engage really well with interactive videos and so on.

  • They would sit down and shoot alien spaceships all day

  • long until they get it.

  • So we applied these gamification techniques to learning.

  • And we can build these online laboratories.

  • How do you teach creativity?

  • How do you teach design?

  • We can do this through online labs and use computing power

  • to build these online labs.

  • So as this little video shows here, you can engage students much like they

  • designed with LEGOs.

  • So here, the learners are building a circuit with LEGO-like ease.

  • And this can also be graded by the computer.

  • Fifth is peer learning.

  • So here we use discussion forums and discussions and Facebook

  • like interaction not as a distraction but to really help students learn.

  • Let me tell you a story.

  • When we did the circuits course with the 155,000 students,

  • I didn't sleep for three nights leading up to the launch of the course.

  • In fact, one of my TAs, OK.

  • 7 by 24.

  • We're going to be up monitoring the forum answering questions.

  • Now, I had answered questions for 100 students.

  • How do you do that for 150,000?

  • So one night, I'm sitting up there 2:00 AM at night.

  • And I think there was this question from a student from Pakistan.