Many of you may have seen this commercial for Kaplan University. It made the rounds in the edublogosphere because of its message about change, talent, and learner-centered instruction. I’ve used it myself in several presentations to higher education folks.
Now Dr. Punya Mishra, of Michigan State University and TPACK fame, offers his take on the commercial as he reflects on his own new graduate program. I think you’ll enjoy his 2-minute video. Happy viewing!
As inspirational and revolutionary as the Kaplan ad seems at first, with multiple viewings, the hypocrisy pointed out by Dr. Mishra in his excellent rebuttal becomes apparent. Too much of what is being sold as online learning simply re-purposes the same curriculum materials using standard teacher-directed instructional methods.
Thanks for posting the video. I think I may have a group to show it to later this month.
I think these two put together make a more powerful statement than many I’ve seen.
I admit to being a little confused….
Obviously the TPACK spot is about more than just Kaplan (and I “get” that). The main point in the beginning is that, “A lecture is just a lecture” and that porting a lecture to technology makes it little different. (of which most of us probably agree).
But, they end with, “technology changes everything” and goes on to say, it changes how we teach, …
My confusion lies in the disparity between those messages. Perhaps technology changes nothing (a lecture is a lecture) or perhaps it changes everything (as the statement says).
Perhaps people change everything (or not) (and maybe they use technology)…?
What if…. online learning looks a lot like regular classroom learning?
One thing I do think this points out though… is that all of us need to be willing to scratch beneath the surface of any bit of hype that people are willing to push forward – whether in commercials, blog posts, … Being media savvy is a skill we hope to build in our students, but all of us could use a good dose of critical analysis when presented with a message.
The parody video is cute, but offers nothing more than the obvious critique that lectures are not the richest form of educational experience. That said, Scott – are you really promoting Kaplan University as a sound educational model? Kaplan? Really? The test-prep people?
A few points:
1) I’ve been an academic for nearly twenty years. I don’t lecture and have never given a test or quiz.
2) I’ve written and spoken about the approach I take to teaching online (based on 15 years of experience)
Learning Adventures: A new approach for transforming real and virtual classroom environments – http://stager.org/articles/72_Stager.pdf
and the good folks at ISTE recorded my talk about teaching online in a constructionist fashion – http://stager.tv/blog/?p=531
3) Some of the most diverse practice in progressive education exists in American higher-education. Why not start sharing such examples instead of perpetuating stereotypes? Better yet, why don’t dissatisfied academics DO SOMETHING differently?
Should we trust a company who has demonized public education and profited from its destruction via an enormous test-prep business with “rescuing” higher-education?
Thanks for the comment (and the GREAT question in #3!). No, I don’t promote Kaplan U. I’ve used the video, however, just to catch people’s attention about the deficiencies of current practice.
Re: the Kaplan angle:
“If our goal is to turn out good test takers who can learn and play the test question game it only makes sense that we turn the entire educational system over to a business such as Kaplan, who makes wonderful profits teaching students how to take tests.
What does such an approach to education do to the teaching professional? What does it do to the profession?” http://is.gd/7GRzW
It is nice to see someone take a good public swipe at them.
While I agree that a lecture is still a lecture no matter the form, I think there are still some uses for one and there are some benefits to delivery via new media. Students can watch a lecture if missed or multiple times if needed. A lecture in this format can be annotated and shared. Or, as was the case above, the lecture can become something else altogether and generate a discussion similar to the mash-up created from the original video. And to Gary, I hope your thoughts for question #3 begin to trickle down to secondary education.
Joel, good point regarding tech can (or not) change everything. It does have the potential though. Here are two posts I had written a while ago that touch on some of these issues
1. A TPACK video mashup! http://bit.ly/m8yBP
2. Translation, Technology & TPACK: Reflections on French Lieutenant’s Woman http://bit.ly/agXDQw
Tom, you make a good point about the value that tech can bring to the traditional lecture. I had a similar comment on the youtube page, to which I responded thus: Is a lecture just a lecture http://bit.ly/m8Jro
I have tried to make a similar point with our “Technology Steering Committee” here in Mason City, IA:
Too many of our teachers have been asking for “stuff” like projectors, doc cams, and IWBs, but don’t really know how they will use them. I don’t mean they/we don’t know HOW to use them but we don’t really understand WHY.
I have urged our District to offer more (some) professional development on using these new (well, kind of new) technologies so that teachers can intelligently ask for appropriate tools that will enhance teaching and learning. Unfortunately, what I see most often is a computer/ projector used as an overhead projector – a projected message that says, “Get out a piece of paper and pencil, put your name on the top, and number 1-20 for today’s spelling test”.
My point: We shouldn’t be asking for or using technology “stuff” unless it is the best way to teach and there isn’t another way to do it (like simply telling or writing it on the whiteboard). After all, a math problem is still just a math problem, whether it’s written on the board or projected.
Loved the video by Punya Mishra…and love the discussion occurring here in this blog! The unfortunate thing is that the vast majority of faculty (who will never see this blog post or the video) still are under the false perception that content is king and placing content online makes for a great learning experience. T-PACK points to the correct content being used in appropriate pedagogical ways with appropriate technology for the specific discipline in question, which makes much more sense to me.
Joel, I agree with much of what you stated, especially the third paragraph, and, as a student, kudos to you, Gary, for calling on your students to be innovative with technology and teaching with the Socratic Method. My response to the videos was prior to reading everyone’s posts. Please pardon any redundant thoughts:
Just as lecturing in a traditional setting to students does not ensure learning, teachers using technology as a platform for delivery does not ensure learning. In Kaplan’s commercial, I would like to hear more about the innovative ways in which they are using technology to provide a better education for students. If it is simply using the internet for delivery of online classes, this is not innovation, and, it certainly does not reach the generative level, which TPACK promotes. I would definitely welcome Kaplan to share more on how they are delivering quality education through the blending of pedagogy, content, and technology.
I am currently enrolled in the masters program at my state’s university. The university stands on tradition and embraces the continual advancement technology will forever make. Socratic Method, practiced by the professors at the teaching college can be witnessed in classroom settings which vary from traditional, hybrid, and online classes. What does not vary is how we are assessed-it is not through standard tests. Does Kaplan really only test students? At my university we fail ourselves if we do not read or decide not to come to class prepared. We are assessed on classroom preparedness for group discussion and activities. We are held accountable for assigned and supplemental sources by turning in projects and papers throughout the semester. We are encouraged to be active participants in our local and global communities. We are challenged to analyze and synthesize going beyond basic knowledge- just remembering. Technology is used as examples and for exploration on how to further develop and implement technology in order to successfully reach and teach all children. I’ve not sat in one class where a PowerPoint has been launched by a professor.
Feedback from Kaplan students regarding ways in which technology is being implemented is definitely welcomed. As Don Tapscott defines one of the eight norms of Net Gen being scrutinizers, I trust (fingers crossed) they will demand to know what technology Kaplan is delivering.