Revolutionizing online education

Professor creates courses tailored to cultural differences

May 31,2014
Professor Auh Yoon-il of Kyung Hee Cyber University explains the upcoming Kyung Hee MOOC 2.0 in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily at Kyung Hee University on Wednesday. By Park Sang-moon
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, have been a worldwide trend since 2011, changing the future of higher education.

Educational technology companies such as Coursera and edX have provided MOOC lectures called xMOOC to 190 countries, including domestic universities such as Seoul National University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kaist).

Now, Kyung Hee University and Kyung Hee Cyber University are jointly launching their own MOOC platform called Kyung Hee MOOC 2.0 as an alternative to commercialized and investor-driven MOOCs.

At the center of the project is Auh Yoon-il, a professor at Kyung Hee Cyber University. Auh attended Juilliard and was once a world-class violinist, but he later changed direction when he became interested in education and computer software development.

Sitting down with the Korea JoongAng Daily on Wednesday at Kyung Hee University, Auh said that his goal with MOOC 2.0 is to deviate from existing MOOCs, which he says only focus on technological aspects and not on humanitarianism.

Q. What is the Kyung Hee MOOC 2.0?

A. The launch of MOOC 2.0 is a response to design new education platforms in a changing world where we seek innovative solutions to learning opportunities in the 21st century. From this project, we hope to provide and improve education experiences both on and off campus and continue to thrive on critical pedagogical research throughout the coming decade.

Our goal is to provide access to education that promotes communal learning experiences worldwide, when conventional MOOCs are focusing only on technology and unidirectional lectures. MOOC 2.0 is not simply about technology alone. It is about collaborative movement between technology and humans to make a positive social transformation in our society.

This project is a part of Kyung Hee’s Global Campus Initiative and education development plan responding to the paradigm shift in higher education from the explorations in the context of sustainability. The launch of MOOC 2.0 inaugurates the first self-developed MOOC-based learning system offered by the university in Korea and to my knowledge, as of today, I believe the concept of MOOC 2.0 may be the first and only in the world.

What is the concept of ocMOOCs?

Currently, MOOC courses that are being offered by Coursera, edX and universities are targeted to reach learners from all parts of the world. Our goal in launching ocMOOCs is to study how people who share the same cultural background interact, access and share information among each other. In other words, we are interested in studying the learning behavior of how people of one culture exchange and share information among their own community but geographically dispersed.

The classes provided by conventional MOOCs are all in English and from the West, which means that all those people from 190 countries are learning content from the West. Roughly 60 percent of the world’s population is from the East, and Caucasians account for only 25 percent. I have to ask: Isn’t it neo-colonialism?

Based on my understanding, this type of research has not been done in the past and using MOOC technology makes such study possible today. Furthermore, this type of study cannot be done in a commonly spoken language such as English in order to observe the pattern of information exchange among the people with the same cultural background. Therefore, we named our pilot MOOC “One Culture MOOC.” We call ocMOOC the pilot project because we would like to expand this concept of studying to other cultures in the future.

What about hMOOC?

Only 12 percent of the world’s population can use the Internet. It is a great idea to teach people all over the world, but teaching only 12 percent is a limitation, especially when only people in higher classes enjoy the technology in developing countries in Africa or Latin America for instance.

For those who cannot learn from the MOOC because of lack of equipment, hMOOC aims to educate local teachers first through the Internet, and they can subsequently convey the learning to locals.

And learning behaviors of the locals will be recorded and sent back to the MOOC operator so that they can analyze it and come up with a better way of teaching.

We call this “Glocalized Education” [GE]. GE simply means to denote the adaptation of instruction, content or instructional service that was received or downloaded from the main content repository to customize and meet each locality or culture in which it is being used. The strength of this type of instructional delivery is that the teaching and learning takes place in a local context, reciprocated or communal, not as a one directional instructional delivery from one side of the world to another. Therefore, the learning at the local level complements the needs of the community and respects to their cultural values.

How do MOOCs affect the future of education?

First, as we already know, MOOCs make great intellectual content available to literally millions of people who would not have access to it anywhere else. Most importantly, not only can the content provide traditional curriculums that are offered in schools but also curriculums and lectures that were not possible to deliver in a traditional classroom environment.

Second, we hope this pilot ocMOOC research will encourage and open other schools in Korea to collaborate to promote and prepare Korean students for the future that offers both opportunistic and challenging times ahead. We are confident that this can improve our classroom learning experience on many levels that can only be imagined. MOOCs can potentially, if not abused, make the education experience better on all levels.

You have an interesting personal background. How did you change your career path?

I began playing violin when I was 4 and was quite famous for playing well. I once had a chance to show my performance to Isaac Stern, the famous violinist, and he proposed that I go to the United States for better education.

I learned violin at Juilliard from when I was 11 and made my debut in New York at Carnegie Hall at 16, and at the Lincoln Center at 18 as a professional.

But I suddenly suffered a shoulder injury when I was 22 and had to give up the career at the top. At that time, all I had learned was violin and did not even have American friends. I couldn’t even speak Korean and knew nothing about my own country.

To look for what I have to do in the future, I decided to stay at a Korean temple in New York for a couple of months. But in the end, I stayed there for three years and learned about my home country.

I was still not sure about how I should move on after coming back from the temple. I made up my mind to study, but I had to start from scratch. After starting over a few times, I managed to get into Columbia University.

When I applied for the university, a professor of the university came to me and asked me why a person with a master’s degree in music wants to study computers. When I told him my story, he said he was also a football player turned scholar after being injured in a match. He was my adviser until I earned my doctorate at the university.

He used to say, “Don’t regard technology just as technology but as an extension of our senses. Because of our wrong education, people consider technology as a product and they are sold to technology.”

The saying also helped me a lot when setting up goals for the MOOC 2.0 project.

How do you feel about leading change in the educational field?

It is not my idea or people who work here that make such a change. The change will occur only when all people use [MOOC 2.0], and that way we will learn to coexist and everybody wins.

The most wonderful thing about [MOOC 2.0] is that no one will try to steal or plagiarize it because it will not be economically beneficial. We don’t need to worry about competitors, too. Therefore, in a way, we can say it is a perfect educational model.

If the change happens, everybody wins. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장