Scaling up 21st Century General Education through Technology


General education is “that part of a liberal education curriculum that is shared by all students ... it provides broad exposure to multiple disciplines and forms the basis for developing essential intellectual, civic, and practical capacities” (AAC&U, “What is a Liberal Education?”). One of the challenges in the provision of general education lies in the sheer scale of the provision required. The surge in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in recent years has shown that technology can be used to provide access to high-quality education at scale. The question for institutions has been whether such technological solutions could also be used for their their own students. An early example of this was Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs). These were essentially MOOCs restricted to the institution’s students. Many of these SPOCs were provided in a Blended Learning format that included face-to-face learning activities. However, the major success of MOOCs was the scale of provision, with a number of MOOCs reaching registration in access of 100,000. Could SPOCs using a blended learning approach be used to provide access to courses that are seen as being critical to the general education of our students? A number of institutions have now used this approach to provide general education at scale. This breakout session will share practice from some of these institutions and discuss the successes as well as limitations that have so far been identified.

“What is a Liberal Education?” Association of American Colleges & Universities.