• Updated : 2018.9.18 화 17:33
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K-MOOC: the Changing Landscape of Higher Education
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승인 2017.11.10  18:09:16
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▲ A student listening to K-MOOC lecture in a coffee shop

    Haven’t you ever thought that your education is limited to your major so you are not getting enough opportunities to expand your knowledge in other fields? Bringing energy to your same everyday life by learning new things will fulfill your intellectual desire and make your life delightful. The evolution of technology has made it possible to learn anything you want online. Society as a whole can have access to high-quality lectures wherever and whenever. The Chonnam Tribune will give you an insight into this new educational evolution.

From Classroom Lectures to E-learning
    From the whole history of human education, all kinds of education have been done face-to-face. College education is not an exception. We take classes at a certain lecture room, at a fixed time. That is, if we miss a class, there is no way to make up for it since the class has a fixed time and place. Besides, the limited lecture time is making it hard for students to satisfy their curiosities and eventually makes the class one-way lecturing. As the use of technology in teaching and learning is becoming wider and more diversified, however, we are now taking advantages of advanced educational environment on the Internet.
    The Institute of Liberal Education at Chonnam National University (CNU) is providing various e-learning services for students. The institute has developed a Smart Learning system that enables students and professors to communicate, teach and learn without the limitation of location and time. Moreover, it is expanding the number of e-learning lectures for summer and winter break sessions. Kim Duk-hoon, a staff member of the Center for e-Learning at the institute, said, “2212 students took e-learning courses in the 2017 summer session. The new e-learning system has made it possible to receive academic credits even for those students who already got employed before graduation.” Kim Chae-lin (Sophomore, Dept. of Japanese Language and Literature) who took “Understanding of History of Science” said, “It was nice that, unlike typical online lectures, the lecture used a storytelling method and subtitles. I also liked that I could repeatedly take the course as much as I want to until I understood it. The e-learning style suited me well so I took two more e-learning lectures the following semester.”
    Furthermore, CNU opened CELL (CNU Excellent e-Learning Lectures) not only to CNU students but it is also available to the general public. By making it accessible from all kinds of smart devices, leading students to be able to take lectures while moving around, CNU opened another door to help students to enhance their academic achievement. “If there is no difference between classroom lectures and online courses, it is reasonable to take e-learning classes. E-learning courses have no limitations in time and space unlike classroom lectures at universities,” said Ryu Jee-heon (Professor, Dept. of Education).

   
▲ Students listening to K-MOOC lectures in a classroom

CNU Launched K-MOOC Lectures
    Now, as we enter the fourth industrial revolution, new ways of teaching and learning have emerged. One of them is Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) as a new platform of higher education. They provide lectures to an unlimited number of learners mostly by videos on MOOC platforms. Anyone can use these courses for free or at a low-cost and can interact with other learners from all over the world. With the current trend, Korean MOOC (K-MOOC) opened in October, 2015 with 27 courses from 10 domestic leading universities and provides 490 courses as of October 31, 2017. K-MOOC aims to open courses of universities so as to provide equal opportunities of higher education to all the people in Korea. Its goal is to promote innovation in higher education in order to raise competitiveness of Korean universities in a global education sector. Lee Yu-jin (Junior, Dept. of Education) said, “As MOOCs have no restrictions in place for taking the courses, I enrolled on a MOOC that I wanted to learn. Many materials, including video clips and pictures, made the course interesting.”
    Many universities have applied for the K-MOOC project and this year CNU was selected to get support from the government to offer the K-MOOC services. The university opened its K-MOOC lectures on October 30; “Finding the Lost Three Billion Years” by Huh Min (Professor, Dept. of Earth Environmental Science) is a lecture about the Earth’s history, biology, ecology, and environmentology using real dinosaur fossils. To increase understanding of the Earth and make learners become absorbed in the lecture, it uses digital 3D images of the dinosaur’s restoration to maximize visual effects. Another course is ”Service Robots" by Park Jong-oh (Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering). It integrates artificial intelligence and robots into everyday life for the public’s better understanding of technologies. Distinguishing robots by some elements such as their types and characteristics, it made the mechanical engineering lecture friendlier. CNU provides special offline lectures and conducts on-site surveys to supplement the weakness of online lectures. Moreover, CNU plans to add English subtitles to videos so that international students can have opportunities to take the K-MOOCs. Huh Min said, “To make the courses high quality, we decided to add English subtitles. With these subtitles, CNU’s K-MOOC service can go beyond the borders and reach to people from all around the world for spreading CNU’s excellence.”

   
▲ Two students having a discussion about a K-MOOC lecture on a laptop

Emerging Challenges to K-MOOC
    Although K-MOOC has no time and place limitation and many other strengths, they are facing many challenges to overcome. One of the main problems with MOOCs is a very low pass rate. Most learners, mostly studying alone, do not have enough will to actually finish courses. In addition, since it is a free online service without any penalty for the quitters, they just listen to the parts that they are curious to see. Another problem is that there is no reasonable evaluation basis. Because of this, maintaining a good balance between course content is difficult. Especially in Korea, since K-MOOC is a business lead by the government, there is a high probability that participanting universities make contents to barely fit the government’s requirements to get additional points when assessed from the governmental authority. This phenomenon has led them to prefer to develop courses in the field of humanities which requires a relatively low budget. In addition, the closed system, which allows only selected universities to participate in the program, lowers the supplier’s motivation to develop high-quality lectures.
    The low pass rate problem can be solved by communication between learners. Learners taking the same lecture can form study groups. Using video telephone programmes will help learners who study alone to get motivated to study. To induce active participation in the course development of suppliers, proper compensation can be a good option. Earned profits from advertising, selling textbooks will encourage the developers of K-MOOC lectures. Bae Choon-sik, Executive Director of the Center for e-Learning, said, “To vitalize e-Learning and K-MOOC, the most important things are headquarters’ attention and support. The president of CNU is expanding the budget on K-MOOC to strengthen international exchanges. CNU aims to reconsider our university’s image and accomplish the duty as a higher educational institution by developing characterized contents.”

K-MOOC for Self-paced Learning
    Despite the many challenges K-MOOC is facing, the online education platform is worth the expectation since it has many advantages. As time goes by, many problems will be solved and it will be developed more in a positive way. People adopt things that are useful to them. In a busy society like these days, MOOCs can be competitive because they have no restrictions on time and place. So why don’t we start learning through our own self-paced MOOCs and get advantages from it?
 

By Lee Eun-ji, Student Editor

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