MOOCs in the Education of the Future : Digitizing Training
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Everybody agrees that education is the foundation of a developed society. Parents make it abundantly clear to their children from a tender age: education will open doors for you; it will allow you to grow both personally and socially, to make money.... too many responsibilities for a single word. Improving education has become a magical mantra that is repeated over and over in both families and institutions. It is therefore quite striking to witness how the procedures and structure of the educational system in developed countries have remained fairly stable almost since its creation as a public service and its subsequent universalization. The reason for this is that education has been very successful in its main goal: spreading general knowledge among the population to allow citizens to get by in their everyday lives, and providing a more specialized knowledge so they can perform a specific job. Thus, the university education system teaches students to be, for instance, doctors, so they can replace other doctors who are retiring in any part of the country or they can work in newly opened health centers. The traditional view of higher education is to create somewhat interchangeable pieces that try to fit into a stable society. However, times are changing. Organizations need to adapt faster; knowledge is more specialized; and technology constantly modifies jobs. The traditional educational system therefore faces increased difficulties to remain a fundamental reference for training. Technology is behind many of the changes that seem to challenge society, and with it, the educational system. This monograph provides compelling arguments about how it can also be the solution. Although online training, and MOOCs in particular, have so far only been a reflection of in-class teaching, and a virtual reflection where many of the most important qualities are lost, there are currently enough elements to suggest that things will be different in the future. Speaking of technology as the element that prompts change does not include merely the Internet or improved interfaces. It also refers to new concepts such as big data, which will allow a staggering amount of data to be collected about users and behaviors to provide to adapt education in real-time; it refers to immersive technologies such as those developed for virtual reality environments, which will allow laboratory environments to be recreated for the users (the so-called remote laboratories); it refers to technologies that support the Open Content movement in the educational world. It therefore refers to the convergence of a large number of technologies that are much more powerful when combined than applied separately. Furthermore, the disruptive capabilities of these educational models do not lie simply in the adaptation of traditional methods to new technologies, but on the possibility of applying new pedagogical practices. Students will be able to explore, either through the use of simulators or of other technologies such as 3D printers. Additionally, peer-to-peer collaboration models could be used, whereby the core of the learning process is transferred from the teacher to the community itself, which uses teamwork and interaction to make its own deductions.