AIR UNIVERSITY AND THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE – FUTURE OF EDUCATION
Chapter 4 of the paper deals with the future of education at Air University.
Whenever someone speaks of the future of anything, it’s best to take that speculation with some skepticism. The most recent research, while it does indicate some future trends, may only be as useful as it seems to be at this very moment in education. While trends do appear to be heading toward schema and strategies such as gamification and interactive social networking, one must never overlook the fact that new strategies and technologies enter human history as abruptly as Pearl Harbor and 9/11. The following research gets at current technologies and educational philosophies with a look toward the future of education. While these trends may be helpful in vectoring toward a future outlook for education, AU must have the flexibility and cutting-edge savvy to make hard turns as necessary. Game-based learning (GBL), or gamification, is a method by which game development and playing are used to support learning within the realms of several different subjects using a wide array of strategies and platforms. Since this is a new method for teaching and learning, there are several areas in which exploration still needs to be made. Some negative attributes of GBL are still under scrutiny. “GBL may not also be beneficial to all learners. For example, the multimedia elements of game-based-learning may also increase students’ cognitive load because they have to play and learn at the same time; it might go against learners with low ability” (Ku, Chen, Wu, Lao, & Chan, 2014, p. 67). While initial concerns are warranted, GBL does show some promise. “The results indicate that both high-ability and low-ability students with the GBL approach gained significant improvement on their confidence toward mathematics” (Ku, Chen, Wu, Lao, & Chan, 2014, p. 75). GBL has its place in the future of the classroom, but education cannot rest alone or even mostly on such a nascent theory. More must be done to undergird the rapidly changing educational environment across the spectrum of education.
In his article analyzing three models to reshape educational practice, Sam Roberson discusses how to improve teaching and learning based on a look into the future of education. “The work of schools is teaching and learning. However, the current educational culture is dominated by three characteristics: (1) the mechanistic view of organization and its practice based on the assembly line model where students progress along a value added conveyor; (2) the predominance of the Essentialist philosophy of education, in which the teacher-centered classroom transfers bits of “essential” knowledge to students; and (3) the high stakes testing mentality, which believes in the rigid and frequent testing of students to ensure learning and enforce accountability” (Roberson, 2013, p. 340). As an alternative, Roberson presents three models that highlight other options for creating deep, complex, generative learning. “Three models for reshaping the current educational practice are presented and discussed briefly. These include (1) a comparison of testing driven environments with other view-points for possible educational environments: The Goals of Learning Model; (2) a comparison of a testing-driven curriculum with what could be offered to students: The Limitation of TAKS Model; and (3) a model that summarizes the shift needed to refocus student achievement towards higher, more complex learning: The Trajectories of Learning Model” (Roberson, 2013, p. 349). Behind all of these strategies rests the purpose of using education to move toward application and creation rather than merely seeking to fill the boxes. By setting a path and looking for ways to reach the end of that educational path, teachers and students can move more readily toward achieving the goals set out. “Were the culture of schools configured in any other way, in a culture of possibility (Roberson, 2011a) for example, in which students were encouraged and challenged to pursue the type of learning presented by the three models above—an education not limited by simple, shallow, novice level learning characterized by passively memorizing massive bits of inert knowledge, but an education that is wide open, one characterized by deep, complex, expert level learning in a wide range of subjects or disciplines presented in an interdisciplinary, real world based way” (Roberson, 2013, p. 357).
Massive open online Courses (MOOCs) are becoming more widespread in education by way of innovation and exploration in technology and the future of education. MOOCs were initially developed to help those who were disadvantaged to have more open access to education for career and personal development. “The first MOOCs to catch the media and public attention in the autumn of 2011, so called xMOOCs, were in very technical subjects (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Databases)” (Macleod, Haywood, Woodgate, & Alkhatnai, 2015, p. 58). Through the open delivery of technical education, many individuals were able to increase the KSAs in this area in particular. Of course, the initial success of these offerings opened up the educational opportunities to many more. “One feature of our MOOC learners that changed dramatically from the first to second offerings was our learners’ prior experience of study on MOOCs, where we noted a rise from 22% to 58% in learners who had previously taken a MOOC” (Macleod, Haywood, Woodgate, & Alkhatnai, 2015, p. 59). Thus, the growth of the programs mirrored the success of the material and opportunities within the MOOCs. “How do these data help us decide on a MOOC strategy to help us plan for the future? In many respects the MOOC learners are quite like those who come to our campus for our open studies (continuing education) short courses. Our 17,000 registered open studies learners tend to be older and well educated, mostly study for interest, pay very low fees and do not seek formal university credits” (Macleod, Haywood, Woodgate, & Alkhatnai, 2015, p. 62). The MOOCs concept, then, is not only a success as far as education delivery to those who would not have opportunity otherwise, but a boon for the university that uses them. Through using MOOCs, the reputation of the school is bolstered and advertised as a veritable phalanx in the arena of education. Through the use of MOOCs, AU can position itself on the leading edge of education, not just of the Airman, but the world.
Ku, O., Chen, S.-Y., Wu, D.-H., Lao, A.-C.-C., & Chan, T.-W. (2014). The Effects of Game-Based Learning on Mathematical Confidence and Performance: High Ability vs. Low Ability. Educational Technology & Society, 17 (3), 65–78.
Macleod, H., Haywood, J., Woodgate, A., & Alkhatnai, M. (2015). Emerging patterns in MOOCs: Learners, course designs and directions. Association for Educational Communications and Technology, 59 (1), 56-63.
Roberson, S. (2013). Improving teaching and learning: Three models to reshape educational practice. Education, 134 (3), 340-358.