Don Margulis

New Educational Model

Our colleague, Don Margulis, attended the World Future Society's 2010 conference in Boston this summer and highlighted a presentation by Maria Anderson, a math faculty member at Muskegon Community College in Michigan. Don's summary is below:

Maria sees us moving from what she describes as an "Airplane" model of education to a "Subway" model.  With our current Airplane model, students essentially pay for each course, the course "takes off" at a certain time and everyone must complete the journey at the same time.  Empty seats go unused.  Students cannot choose to disembark for a period of time and return later.  If there are not enough seats filled, the flight (course) may be cancelled. Teachers are essentially still in the business of preparing and delivering content.  Although online classes bring some degree of increased access, they still operate under this model.  She sees the model as expensive, relatively inflexible and not a good fit for for many students as we move further into the 21st Century. She did mention, as a humorous aside, that if we were going to continue to use this model we might want to copy the airlines and offer discounts to students who fill the empty seats just before the class begins, and to offer "frequent learner discounts" to students that persist over time.  In contrast, the Subway model is less expensive, more flexible and moves faculty into the position of guide and mentor.  It makes extensive use of technology and the online environment.  Payment is usually a subscription based model, like a subway, where you pay your basic fee and can use the subway system however you need to, getting on and off, taking different trains, etc.  The trains run regardless of the number of passengers. What's interesting about this model is that it's not just theoretical.  There are a number of schools, learning organizations and web sites that are already using elements of this model.  One can get credit for courses, earn degrees or simply gain the equivalent of a college education for one's own purposes for free or relatively inexpensively with some of the resources currently available.  These resources are only going to increase and may offer some serious competition to our current model. The challenge for us is whether we want to compete with these offerings as they become more robust and available or begin to incorporate them in our own offerings.  Of course, we're also faced with deciding what the strengths and weaknesses of this emerging model might be.

Maria Anderson has made the presentation available using a tool called Prezi and also provided a link to the video of her presentation:

The Development of a Motivation Based College Course

The goal of this project was to develop a course using the principles of student engagement and intrinsic motivation that were gleaned from a year long study of the topic in our Carnegie Group. There were several key factors in this process including the provision of multiple opportunities for student choice as well as the creation of an environment designed to foster student-to-student and faculty-student relationships. The selected course was "Educational Psychology" which has utilized this format for two semesters in the classroom and one semester online.

Click here for the PDF version of the article.


Last Modified: 12/18/12