Not long ago a friend asked me, in the context of the current debate about MOOCs and other forms of supposedly transformational educational innovations, who was awarding prizes to recognize excellence in the transformation of learning, especially in the large class environment?
My response was, “Well…hm…uh…there’s…no. I guess I can’t really think of anyone.”
I did manage to come up with the CASE-Carnegie US Professor of the year awards [I am an off and on judge for these], but these awards are not specifically targeted at innovation in large courses. Some of the past winners, such as Dennis Jacobs (2002) or Michael Wesch (2008), have done some very amazing things in their large classes, but that’s not the specific purpose of these awards. Finding “excellence in undergraduate education” is the brief of the panels reading the final application dossiers.
Because I couldn’t think of anything else relevant, I started scanning around the web looking for that national award for excellence in the use of technology in teaching large courses (or even for using technology in teaching college level courses). I found nothing.
Normally, I’d put that down to my inability to find what I’m looking for online (despite having pretty reasonable skills in that area), but it seems I’m not the only person looking in vain. In a comment on an earlier post on MOOCs, Dominik Lukes wrote:
“I’ve been searching in vain for an educational reform aimed at content or pedagogy that made a transformation of the education system in accordance with its goals. And I could not find one.”
If you know of something that Dominik and I are missing, please let me know and I’ll publicize it here. Rather than seeing lots of time and money thrown at MOOCs, which are largely (but certainly not entirely) using existing technology to push content at students in an efficient manner, I’d love to see some sort of X-Prize competition for academics who want to create new learning opportunities for students that take full advantage of the creative potential of digital media.